THE cup is half full for Dons – and not just because of the driving rain that plunged Kingsmeadow back into winter.
However, a superb brace from Luke Moore means AFC’s fate is still in their hands – just.
A few favours from teams facing Aldershot, Torquay, and York, to name but three, would be very welcome all the same.
A point against a side vying for promotion is nothing to sneeze at although there might be a few in the season’s best 4,749 that might catch a cold as the temperature plunged despite a riveting match.
The action took a while to get going, but when Jamie Cureton made space for himself thanks to a deft touch he brought a full length save out of John Sullivan on 12 minutes.
But in a heartbeat, the action switched to the other end when Luke Moore chased a lost cause and fed his namesake.
Sammy Moore’s pea-roller from the edge of the box should have been a routine save, but it took a bobble on the poor surface and needed shovelling around the post by a rattled keeper.
City hit back when Aaron Davies took aim from exactly the same spot as Cureton, and brought exactly the same fine save from the keeper.
End to end it went. Luke Moore cut in from the left to be half denied by Artur Krysiak with Kevin Sainte-Luce an inch short of following in the loose ball.
The dreadful surface was as much to blame as Sullivan when Jamie Reid opened the scoring on 36 minutes.
Sure, any mid-pace shot along the ground from 20 yards should expect a stop, but the extra divot did the keeper all hands down.
Sullivan did better less than 30 seconds into the second half from Lawson D’Ath’s piledriver that moved this way and that before it was beaten out.
Pim Balkestein was next hero in defence when Aaron Davies rounded the keeper, only to be denied on the line by the defender’s outstretched boot.
And then came four frantic minutes.
Jack Midson’s header brought an outstanding tip over from Krysiak, and then Moore of the Luke kind hit in hope from 15 yards only to get the rub of the dodgy green and see the ball bounce twice through a crowd and in.
No sooner had he stopped celebrating, but Reid cut in from the right hand on 61 minutes to send a diagonal ball beyond Sullivan for 1-2, who will not want to see the replay.
Just two minutes later that man Luke Moore let fly from 25 yards and smashed the back of the Exeter net.
It could have been better.
Sub Charlie Strutton ran on past the last defender and with all the time in the world but this time Krysiak denied the defender as he cut down the angle.
Cureton then was also denied for Exeter. First, when his header was fisted over the bar by Sullivan, and again when the prolific striker netted only to see the offside flag raised.
How Alan Bennett missed the frame from six yards with a header on 85 minutes only he will know.
And when Jesse Darko missed a cross in the game’s last second, his team-mates will hope the fighting spirit holds strong over the last two nervy games.
Dons: Sullivan; Mitchel-King (Strutton 56), Balkestein, Bennett, Hussey; Sainte-Luce (Darko 56), Meades, Pell, Sammy Moore; Luke Moore, Midson.
Subs (not used): Antwi, Jaimez-Ruiz, Youga, Long, Yussuff.