Exeter City 2-2 LiverpoolLine-Ups
Exeter City: Olejnik, Woodman, Noble (Oakley 61'), Ribeiro (Davies 75'), Holmes (Grant 84'), Nicholls, Moore-Taylor (capt), Reid, Nichols, Tillson, Brown.
Subs: Hamon, McAllister, Morrison, Hoskins.
Goals: Nichols 11', Holmes 45+1'
Liverpool: Bogdan, Enrique, Benteke (capt), Ilori (Maguire 77'), Brannagan, Stewart, Kent (Chirivella 57'), Smith, Sinclair (Ojo 71'), Teixeira, Randall.
Subs: Fulton, Lallana, Lucas, Masterson.
Goals: Sinclair 14', Smith 73'
Referee: Stuart Attwell
EXETER CITY are heading to Anfield after holding Premier League Liverpool to a thrilling 2-2 draw at St James Park.
With the anticipation having been building for nigh-on six weeks since the Third Round draw was made on December 7th, a capacity crowd was in attendance at St James Park for the visit of Liverpool.
The Match of the Day studio was set up and ready to go. The assembled hordes of press (over sixty-five of them, the majority nationals) were taking their places. The special ninety-six-page edition of The Grecian had been selling like hot cakes around the ground since the early hours of the morning.
David Noble and Christian Ribeiro returned to the starting line-up for Exeter City to take on Liverpool in the most eagerly-anticipated match of the season. Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp named a very youthful eleven, but did have Belgian international Christian Benteke up front as captain.
It was a first FA Cup experience for the German visiting manager, and the magic of the Cup was in full swing when his pre-match interviews were carried out in the club's tea room. City boss Paul Tisdale provided his counterpart with a gift as the sides made their way out onto the field.
With St James Park full to the rafters and absolutely rocking, the place nearly fell down when Jamie Reid centred for Tom Nichols to fire City in front just over ten minutes in. Songs for Stanno rang out as the stadium bounced, but unfortunately it was a lead that was only to last for a few minutes, as Jerome Sinclair took advantage of a mistake in the City backline to fire past Bobby Olejnik.
David Noble had a wonderful chance to put City in front once again, but could only fire over from Christian Ribeiro's cross. But City would end the half with the advantage after a classic moment in front of the cameras, as Lee Holmes whipped a beautiful corner straight in past Adam Bodgan.
HALF-TIME: EXETER CITY 2-1 LIVERPOOL
Both sides returned to the pitch for the second half to a loud reception, but it was clearly the home side that enjoyed the more positive one. Bobby Olejnik was crucial in keeping City in front, saving from Christian Benteke's header. but could do nothing to stop Brad Smith from rifling in an equaliser with just over fifteen minutes to go. City picked it up from there; the introductions of Joel Grant and Matt Oakley helping to retain some possession, and they did well to limit their visitors to half-chances.
Liverpool, without a large number of first-team players thanks to a succession of hamstring injuries, were reminded of that fact when Brad Smith went down. "Is it your hamstring?" came the call from the Big Bank. Back up he got. But besides the header from Benteke early in the second period, City were not tested often enough by the Premier League side for the visitors to overcome their plucky, relentless hosts.
Despite some hairy moments, City are still in the hat for the Fourth Round, and will head to Anfield to settle the tie. For the first time in their history, Exeter City avoid defeat against Liverpool, and it could well be the first of a couple in the space of a few weeks.
FULL-TIME: EXETER CITY 2-2 LIVERPOOL
Attendance: 8,298 (1,297 away)
Man of the Match: Tom Nichols