PAUL Tisdale praised the performance of his Exeter City defenders as they put in a resolute display in the 0-0 draw with Aldershot.
The result on Saturday was ultimately another frustrating scoreline for the home fans to endure as they watched their side fail to pick up three points at home for the seventh time in eight games.
However, taking the positives from the match, Tisdale said he felt the conditions played their part and the side had performed well against a physical Aldershot team who came looking to frustrate City and gain a valuable point in their battle for survival.
"I think we are improving as a team," said Tisdale. "You draw 0-0 at home and it is frustrating, but the opposition wanted to stand firm.
"Again, you look at their away form the last few months they have been very, very hard to beat. It was a hard game the ball was played around the earlobes and it was not easy.
"I would have liked to have won the game, but I felt we defended extremely well.
"We have conceded only one goal from open play since the turn of the year, which is a good sign and it is a point gained, so I'm satisfied, I'm not delighted with things but I am satisfied."
Pat Baldwin and Kevin Amankwaah came in for special praise from the manager as they dealt with numerous long balls into the City box.
However, City were second best for the majority of the first half as they struggled to cope playing directly into the sun on a bumpy St James's Park pitch.
Aldershot came close to taking a deserved lead in the 25th minute when free-kick from the right was glanced goalwards by Danny Hylton. Artur Krysiak saved the shot, but Hylton was allowed to chip the ball back into the six yard box where Asa Hall crashed a header against the crossbar.
However, despite all their territory and possession the visitors failed to create any other meaningful chances in the first half and City could have found themselves in front if Jamie Cureton had showed more composure when being put through on goal by Alan Gow after 31 minutes, but his curling shot was too close to Jamie Young who saved with ease.
The Shots' physical approach to the game continued in the second half as Cureton was floored by a flailing arm from Sonny Bradley.
Gow then tried to add a touch of class to proceedings with a Rabona flick pass through to Cureton, but with the visitors setting up with two banks of four there was little chance of the ball finding its way through to his teammate. The closest City came to a winner was when Guillem Bauza flicked the ball over Young and into the back of the net, but his goal was ruled out for offside.
At the other end Oliver Risser hit a volley from outside the box that stung the gloves of Krysiak, but other than that the Polish keeper was not troubled.
In the end, just as in the Johnstone's Paint Trophy match between the two sides at the Park earlier the season, it ended in a stalemate, with Tisdale insisting conditions played their part.
"It was difficult game," said Tisdale. "The pitch was lifeless and it was bumpy.
"It meant that the game was all about one or two passes and hitting it forward.
"They put the ball in the air with the long throws and the long free-kicks, which they were good at and we defended those situations extremely well, but to try and get the ball back on the deck when the ball is moving slowly and not crisply, is very difficult."
The win keeps City just inside the play-off places, a point ahead of eighth-placed Northampton. Town. And with it being so close at the top, Tisdale viewed the draw as a point gained rather than two dropped.
"It is a point gained that is the way we will look at it," he said. "If, one the whole ,we are very hard to beat then we won't be far away for it (promotion).
"We just have to trust ourselves and the players have to trust each other and the supporters need to trust in what we are doing."