IN his country garb, visiting Exeter boss Paul Tisdale looked more in the mood for an afternoon of game shooting rather than 90 minutes of League Two football at Bootham Crescent.

But it was York City who fired the blanks again during a 0-0 draw, which means Russ Wilcox’s men have now failed to net in 70 per cent of their ten fixtures during 2015.

The Minstermen chief correctly commended his players’ endeavour at the final whistle but, rarely, can a team have exerted so much energy to produce so little.

City slogged through a contest in which Exeter, meandering along in mid-table and now without a win in seven matches, pretty much failed to put a single foot in the home penalty box during the second half.

At the other end, though, despite their territorial advantage, the hosts only tested Grecians keeper James Hamon once after the break – a hopeful 48th-minute 20-yard effort from Russell Penn that proved to be the final on-target attempt of a dour clash.

An awful playing surface did not assist City in their attacking forays, but the pitch was not discernibly worse than it had been a fortnight earlier when Tranmere were played off the park.

Diego De Girolamo’s role in the hole, meanwhile, was countered smartly by Tisdale’s employment of Danny Butterfield as a screen for a defence that had not managed a clean sheet during their previous ten games and the Italian under-20 international was effectively shadow marked prior to his 68th-minute withdrawal.

As the Minstermen laboured in open play, they also failed to make the most of another healthy haul of corners that were won.

Having deservedly lost 2-0 against Dagenham earlier in February despite winning the flag kick count 13-1, City could not capitalise on another succession of set-piece situations.

Centre-back Keith Lowe could have had a hat-trick of headers during the corresponding fixture at Exeter in August but, even though the home side forced 11 corners to the visitors’ one, the Devon side never looked vulnerable this time around with the Minstermen perhaps missing the deliveries of injured midfielder Luke Summerfield.

City also made an inhibited start to the match, waiting until the 21st minute before threatening Hamon’s goal.

Moments before, the first chances of the game had seen Bobby Olejnik make a fine double save to deny Liam Sercombe and ex-Crystal Palace striker Clinton Morrison before Stephane Zubar kicked Alex Nicholls’ firm 12-yard drive off the line.

The Minstermen responded with De Girolamo sidefooting wide from the edge of the box after Josh Carson’s positive forward burst and square pass.

Carson also forced a save from Hamon at his near post from an unfavourable angle before De Girolamo slid a pass through the right channel to released Fletcher.

The City six-goal joint-top scorer’s low drive was pushed around his near post, however, by Hamon.

Zubar went on to head wide from Carson’s corner to the far post before Ryan Harley drilled a 25-yard shot straight into Olejnik’s stomach.

After De Girolamo blazed well over from a shortly-taken Carson free-kick, Olejnik’s poor goal kick then went unpunished as Sercombe’s opportunistic 40-yard lob drifted just over a vacated net.

Following the restart, Penn tried his luck early on but Fletcher had a better chance just past the hour when he headed over from an accurate Marvin McCoy cross.

Carson also flashed a well-struck effort over after cutting in from the left flank before Sercombe drove wide from 25 yards with Exeter’s first and final attempt of the second period.

In stoppage time, McCoy fired over from 30 yards and Michael Coulson’s free-kick was deflected off target and, since City last scored more than two goals on their own soil during a 3-1 triumph against Dagenham on January 4, 2014, the club have now failed to net in more than 50 per cent of their 31 home fixtures, hitting the target only 21 times during those matches.

Match stats

York City

Bobby Olejnik 7 – kicking was erratic but double save kept Exeter off the scoresheet.

STAR MAN Marvin McCoy 8 – swept up at the back and team’s biggest threat from the flanks.

Keith Lowe 7 – rarely caught out of position and cleared his lines when needed.

Stephane Zubar 7 – excellent goal-line clearance and battled with determination throughout.

Malvind Benning 6 – lost his winger occasionally and provided few crosses from left.

Russell Penn 7 – held midfield together and probed forward when it was prudent.

Brad Halliday 6 – defeated by the pitch on occasions when he tried to carry game to Exeter.

Michael Coulson 6 – industrious but found it hard to create chances for the team.

Diego De Girolamo 6 – found it hard to shrug off attentions of man-marker Butterfield.

Josh Carson 7 – kept plugging away and willing to have a shot from distance.

Wes Fletcher 6 – had team’s best two chances but could not convert either.

Subs: Emile Sinclair 6 - shackled (for De Girolamo, 68), Lindon Meikle (for Carson, 84). Not used: Femi Ilesanmi, John McCombe, Tom Platt, Marvin McCoy, Michael Ingham.

Exeter City

James Hamon, Arron Davies, Christian Riberio, Jordan Moore-Taylor, Jamie McAllister, Liam Sercombe, Danny Butterfield, Ryan Harley, Alex Nicholls (Jimmy Keohane, 72), Tom Nichols, Clinton Morrison (David Wheeler, 72). Subs not used: Scot Bennett, Jordan Tillson, Christy Pym, Graham Cummins, Tom McCready.

Star man: Butterfield – kept a tight rein on De Girolamo.

Referee: Seb Stockbridge (Gateshead) rating: 7/10 – on top of most things.

Booked: Harley 41, Carson 56.

Attendance: 3,209 (227 from Exeter).

Shots on target: City 3, Exeter 4.

Shots off target: City 7, Exeter 3.

Corners: City 11, Exeter 1.

Fouls conceded: City 9, Exeter 9.

Offsides: City 0, Exeter 7.