DEREK Adams was left bemoaning a familiar tale for City this afternoon, as he saw his side dominate but fail to hold on to a lead in their 1-1 FA Cup first round draw at home to Exeter.

Theo Robinson gave City a deserved advantage, neatly slotting home from Charles Vernam's superb through ball after half-an-hour.

But with Levi Sutton's stunning volley hitting the post, and Exeter stopper Cameron Dawson making fine saves from Vernam, Oscar Threlkeld and Elliot Watt, the Bantams failed to add that vital second.

And some shoddy defending allowed substitute Josh Key to burst through two challenges down the right and knock the ball back for Sam Nombe to bundle it home from close range.

Not only have City now got a less-than-ideal midweek replay down in Devon on Tuesday, November 16, but they have also lost top scorer Andy Cook to a hamstring injury picked up in training.

A frustrated Adams said: "We've been the better side against three of the teams right at the top of League Two in Swindon, Forest Green and Exeter.

"We created more opportunities in all of those games than the opposition, but unfortunately, against the latter two, we haven't scored enough goals to see ourselves past them, and that's the frustrating thing."

On conceding that sloppy late equaliser, Adams said: "We have to defend that situation better.

"But they were always going to get an opportunity at some point in the game. They got it and took it."

Charles Vernam sparkled on his return to the starting XI, producing that assist for Robinson and proving a constant threat to the Exeter backline.

Adams said: "I thought he played a great ball through for Theo's goal and the two of them linked up well.

"We worked on how Exeter would play and how we could get the better of them, and we got into some really good goalscoring situations today."

To many people's surprise, Vernam was the first City player to be substituted off, with over 20 minutes left to play.

Asked if that was a mistake in hindsight, Adams said: "Key was causing a problem defensively on that right hand side coming forward.

"We had to take Vernam off to put Alex Gilliead across, who is better defensively."

Young left-back Matty Foulds linked up well with Vernam down the flank in the first half in particular.

Regular starter Liam Ridehalgh is expected to return from injury in the next week or so, but Adams now potentially has a dilemma over whether to start the in-form youngster or the former Tranmere man.

The boss mused: "It's great for us to have that competition, it's what we need as a club.

"Liam Ridehalgh now has competition for his place with the way Foulds has been playing."

Ridehalgh's return is imminent, but top scorer Cook is set for a spell on the sidelines, another City first-teamer to fall victim to a hamstring problem.

Adams confirmed: "He's picked up a hamstring injury, so that was the reason he missed out today.

"We don't know how long he'll be out yet, we'll have to wait for the results of his scan, which he's having on Monday."

On the bright side, Cook's fellow striker, Lee Angol did make a surprise return, and looked bright when he came on for Robinson in the final 15 minutes.

Adams said: "He's been out for three months, so it was great to have him back.

"You saw in the 15 minutes he was on, the ability he has, so we're delighted to have him in the squad."