Match report: Warrington 1 Exeter City 0Exeter City finished on the wrong side of a famous FA Cup upset as Warrington Town earned a place in the second round of the FA Cup at Cantilever Park with a 1-0 win.
It was a header from a corner by Craig Robinson that was inadvertently turned in by Graham Cummins which was the difference on the scoreboard at the final whistle, and gave the Evo-Stik NPL Division One North team a place in the hat.
Liam Sercombe and David Noble came in for Jimmy Keohane and Arron Davies in the two changes Paul Tisdale made to the line-up which started the 1-1 St James Park draw with Luton Town the previous weekend. The Grecians arrived looking to avoid a repeat of their 2008 cup exit to Curzon Ashton, a side who were in the same division as Warrington.
The home side, who had never reached the first round of the competition before in their 65-year history and were already in their eighth FA Cup match of the season, enjoyed the first chance of the game three minutes in, as left-winger Scott Metcalfe found the side-netting. Christy Pym made a perfectly-timed collection to deny Metcalfe an effort a minute later.
But Cantilever Park was sent into raptures after six minutes, as the home side took the lead. Captain Dave Mannix delivered a left-sided corner which Craig Robinson, brother of MK Dons manager Karl, headed at the near post to hand the hosts the advantage.
Striker Ben Wharton had to deal with the attention of Matt Oakley when he fired wide after 14 minutes, before Scot Bennett worked some space for himself to shoot off-target a minute later. Warrington goalkeeper Karl Wills was sharp off his line to deny Graham Cummins a one-on-one opportunity soon after.
Right-back Lewis Field forced a corner after 19 minutes, which came to nothing, but Warrington’s influence over the game continued toward the half-hour mark. Wharton headed one wide before Cummins wasn’t far off reaching a dangerous-looking Craig Woodman cross.
A free-kick won by Matt Grimes after a foul from goalscorer Robinson was drilled against the wall by the England Under-20 international, a few minutes before Liam Sercombe carved out City’s best chance of the game so far, beating left-back Matt Doughty before squaring for David Noble, who saw his effort smack the bar with goalkeeper Wills beaten.
The combined efforts of Grimes and Bennett almost created another opportunity, but Robinson was well-positioned to deal with the danger, and Robinson, who had previously played alongside the likes of Rickie Lambert and Neil Mellor in the Liverpool youth ranks, made a top defensive intervention again moments later when he blocked David Wheeler’s strike at point-blank range.
The final chance of the half fell to Grecians captain Bennett, whose shot was snuffed out before it could become a problem to Wills in the Warrington goal.
Half-time: Warrington Town 1 Exeter City 0
Exeter City came out for the second half with seemingly bags more energy, and forced a corner with Cummins attacking Christian Ribeiro’s cross. An overzealous challenge from Lewis Field on David Noble, which BBC commentator Robbie Savage thought might have been worthy of a red card, wasn’t even punished with a yellow by referee David Coote. Liam Sercombe hit the resulting free-kick over the bar.
Matt Grimes couldn’t find the target on the break on 52 minutes, with the Grecians’ midfielder making the most of the space vacated by 22-year-old Conor Roberts, who was at the side of the field changing his boots. Liam Sercombe’s powerful shot was tipped over for a corner.
Matt Grimes had another chance to test Wills on the half-turn with his left foot, before Nathan Burke took the wrong option in shooting at Christy Pym when he had Scott Metcalfe and Ben Wharton available either side of him. Phil Davies, a product of Wrexham’s academy, replaced Matt Doughty in Wire manager Shaun Reid’s first change, 12 minutes into the second half, while namesake Arron Davies came on for David Noble in the same break in play.
Liam Sercombe unleashed an effort just wide and into the stands when played in by Grimes on 66 minutes. Jimmy Keohane replaced Christian Ribeiro as Paul Tisdale made a positive-looking tactical change. City’s two substitutes linked as Keohane came around the back of the full-back, before playing an inadvertent one-two with Arron Davies only to be caught offside.
Tom Nichols, who had two goals in his last two games for Exeter, was his side’s final substitution, replacing Cummins. Grimes, wriggling through the Warrington defence, fell agonisingly short of grabbing an equaliser as his low shot was clawed off the line by the combined efforts of Wills and Phil Davies.
Wills saved Nichols’ header comfortably, before Grimes’ effort was closed down by Robinson. Arron Davies found himself in heaps of space before curling one wide, before Scot Bennett became the latest City player to have an effort blocked. Metcalfe put an effort wide from a long way out at the other end.
James McCarten made a crucial clearance to deny Jimmy Keohane off the line before Warrington sent on defender Louis Corrigan for Conor Roberts in an attempt to get fresh legs onto the field for the final few minutes. Unbelievably, Bennett powered a header at Wills on the line, and Davies couldn’t get the flick that would have taken the ball out of the reach of the Wire keeper. Warrington’s final substitution saw experienced non-league campaigner Steve Foster come on for Ben Wharton.
Exeter City’s equaliser was not to come: they were the unfortunate victims of a famous FA Cup giant-killing.
Full-time: Warrington Town 1 Exeter City 0
Warrington Town: Wills, Field, Hardwick, Mannix, McCarten, Robinson, Roberts (Corrigan 88), Burke, Wharton (Foster 90), Doughty (Davies 58), Metcalfe.
Unused subs: Gaghan, Booth, Ruane, Collins.
Exeter City: Pym; Ribeiro (Keohane 67), Butterfield, Oakley, Woodman; Sercombe, Grimes, Noble (Davies 59); Wheeler, Bennett, Cummins (Nichols 74).
Unused subs: Hamon, Tillson, Riley-Lowe, Jay.
Referee: David Coote