So similar injury problems plaguing both the Grecians and the Cumbrian's with one major defender for each team being ruled out by injury after coming off on Saturday. Lubo Michalik was out injured and Richard Duffy went off in the 3 - 1 win over Charlton. The hosts Carlisle lined up with Collin, Simek, Livesey, Murphy, Robson, Taiwo, Noble, Berrett, Zoko, Marshall, Curran whilst the Grecian lined up Hamer, Tully, Archibald-Henville, Taylor, Jones, Goldbourne, Noble, Harley, Dunne, Cureton, O'Flynn.
Early on it was obvious there wasn't going to be a big attendance. Well done to all the Exeter fans that racked up hundreds of miles to get to the game, if only the locals could have been bothered as well. It was so quiet it was untrue and you could hear individual players shouting instructions to each other even at great distance.
On two minutes Ryan Harley had a shot but it was too late really, O'Flynn had put the ball through, too many touches from Ryan, if he'd put the ball through in on his first touch he would certainly have been in to have a good shot on goal but he decided to cut back inside and gave the defence a chance to catch up and the shot was tame in comparison.
A bit later O'Flynn mis-controlled it after some silky one twos through the midfield from David Noble and it was fair to say that the first six or seven minutes were pretty uneventful and set up the game as being a bland affair with not much to talk about but it all changed on nine minutes with a goal for the hosts Zoko pulling the ball back from the by-line to Curran who picked his spot from 7 yards and it was a very early lesson for the Grecians back three in how not to defend a nice open move.
No stars for City so far but no villains either and it was time for a comeback, it only took a few minutes and on twelve minutes a goal for the Grecians from Ryan Harley. Hamer dropped kicked it out to the left back position, a sort of deft little chip if you will, Golbourne played it forward, got a nod back from Noble and decided to play it straight through to Cureton who nodded it on to Harley who had charged up the pitch and decided to shoot quite early with his left foot and it went just inside the left post putting it low to the right of the keeper, making it one all and the Grecians were very much back in contention.
A few minutes later and Hamer had to make a save from Marshall, Troy had got a boot in the face in the lead up to the move and was on the floor injured but the referee wasn't having any of it and they played on, Hamer having to make the eventual save.
On twenty minutes Tully forced a corner and Billy Jones swung in a corner which was easily caught by Collin. Three minutes later Tully conceded a corner but this was easily cleared by Matt Taylor and that was the story of Matt's game. Twenty six minutes Cureton nodded on to Ryan who played it forward to Golbourne who played it out wide to O'Flynn but he couldn't quite get there with his head, a nice close opportunity and one of many that we had in the first half.
A minute later on 27, Golbourne conceded a corner, Ryan Harley clearing off the line from a Curran header. It was then sent out to Noble by Cureton with a very good long ball to the edge of the box. Noble initially received the ball well but slipped on the edge of the box. He managed to scamper back to his feet and put the ball out wide to Tully who put in a nice cross which Cureton completely mis-cued and slice the ball which landed at the feet of Ryan Harley. Harley shot low and to the right of the keeper to give City a second goal and a well deserved lead at that stage.
Curran was then denied by Golbourne and a corner again cleared easily by Matt Taylor. For the next four minutes we were greeted with a chant of 'Paul Tisdale's Red and White Army, we hate Plymouth Argyle" which was by far the most atmosphere generating period of the half. On 36 minutes Billy Jones tried to get in on the fun by having a shot of his own. The ball landed at him some 30 yards out and unleashed a stinging shot which had to be tipped over the ball by a fully stretched Collin. Near the end of the half City changed shaped for reasons unknown.
Billy Jones moved to a holding role with Ryan moving out left and Golbourne dropped back, a kind of 4-4-2 formation with a diamond midfield. On forty two minutes Troy mounted a counter attack, picking the ball up in the centre circle and driving forward but couldn't find John O'Flynn out wide right. Just as the half time whistle was due to go, with everything going well for the Grecians, the equaliser for the hosts. This time it was Curran who pulled the ball back and, after Troy fluffed a chance to clear the ball, it was Zoko who scored from a similar position to Carlisle's first goal.
So at half time the teams are drawn at two all.
Feeling amongst the City fans at half time were that there were more goals in this game but they were wrong as two all is how the game would end. Five minutes into the half John O'Flynn was injured after a nasty tackle but managed to carry on after treatment from the phsyio. A couple of minutes later Liam Sercombe fired over from 25 yards, followed by another dangerous attack from the Cumbrian's by Zoko. In a move similar to both their goals, Zoko cut the ball back but this time it was cut out before the danger developed.
On fourteen minutes Billy Jones was replaced by Danial Nardiello to make the Grecians more attacking although we seemed to spend the new few minutes defending in our own half entirely.
The home crowd were getting a bit livelier at this stage, realising that their team were picking up the pace and were looking a lot better than they had done previously and perhaps at times looking the more dangerous of the two sides. On twenty two minutes a nice one two between Cureton and O'Flynn led to a John O'Flynn cross which was hit just too far for anyone to get on the end of and the Cumbrian's launched another counter attack. This seemed to be the story of the second half and you felt there was going to be another goal but you didn't know who was going to score it.
John O'Flynn went off a few minutes later with James Dunne coming on in his place and another change in formation, this time slightly more defensive you'd have to argue. Twenty five minutes into the second half there was a good penalty shout for the Grecians. Jamie Cureton was through on goal when a defender slid in to tackle him. Cureton was furious not to be awarded a penalty, but the referee wasn't swayed, nor did he penalise Jamie for a dive but elected to let play carry on. Carlisle's Noble got booked on twenty eight minutes for a late challenge on Golbourne. With less than ten minutes left to go on the clock, James Dunne gave the ball away at the by-line, very unlike him, with Troy and Matt both claiming off side when none was forthcoming.
Carlisle got a shot away which Troy eventually blocked. With less than five minutes left Cozic came on for David Noble and then with one minute to go Sercombe was through on goal. He'd received the ball facing his own goal in his own half. He did a little flick to put the ball around his marker and he went around him the other way, reminiscent of Pele in the 70s. He then managed to get to the ball first from another defender who was bearing down on him and was then felled by Livesy who only received a yellow card for his offence.
Four minutes of stopping time saw us continuing to attack but not really getting the ball in the danger areas so it ended - Carlisle United 2 Exeter City 2. 3962 saw this encounter with 186 hardy Grecians making the long trip up north.
- Meanwhile the City youngsters beat Ilfracombe 4-2 last night in the Devon Bowl thanks to an own goal and strikes from Dan Western, Chris Shephard and James Norwood. Ivybridge or Tiverton await in the next round.