Grecians' FA Cup run ends at AnfieldLine-Ups
Liverpool: Mignolet, Enrique, Benteke, Allen (Ojo 65’), Ilori, Brannagan, Ibe (Chirivella 79’), Stewart, Smith, Teixeira, Randall (Flanagan 51’).
Subs: Bogdan, Kent, Sinclair, Maguire.
Goals: Allen 10’, Ojo 74’, Teixeira 82’
Exeter City: Olejnik, Butterfield (Nichols 46’), Woodman, Ribeiro, Oakley (Wheeler 64’), Holmes, Davies, Morrison (Hoskins 46’), Moore-Taylor, Nicholls, Brown.
Subs: McAllister, Hamon, Tillson, Grant.
Referee: Neil Swarbrick
A GOAL within the opening ten minutes sent Liverpool on their way as they ended Exeter City’s Emirates FA Cup adventure at Anfield.
The home side looked determined to take the game to City, and they took the lead through a controlled Joe Allen finish within the opening ten minutes. Some resolute defending from the Grecians kept them in the game until the latter stages of the second half, but in the end Liverpool’s attacking prowess proved too much for the battling away side, as Sheyi Ojo and Joao Teixeira sealed Liverpool’s place in the fourth round.
As the famous Kop end began to fill, songs for Stanno echoed around Anfield as the Grecian army in the Anfield Road End sought to make their presence known. Over six thousand away fans had made the five-hundred mile-round trip to Merseyside, each one of them hoping to witness a Third Round upset at the expense of the seven-time winners. FA Cup action under the floodlights at Anfield - these are the nights that Exeter City fans dream of.
The Grecians made four changes to the side that came away from the Matchroom stadium victorious last Saturday. With in-form striker Jayden Stockley unavailable for selection, City boss Paul Tisdale decided to go with experience, presenting Clinton Morrison with the opportunity to lead the line in a 4-5-1 formation. In terms of the hosts, Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp once again decided to name a youthful starting eleven for City’s first visit to Anfield in over thirty-five years. The charismatic German did opt for some experience, granting starting berths to Jose Enrique, Joe Allen and Belgian internationals Simon Mignolet and Christian Benteke. Jerome Sinclair, who scored Liverpool’s first equaliser at St James Park, had to make do with a place on the bench.
The home side dominated the ball in the early stages, and carved out the game’s first chance in the fifth minute. After the ball fell to Benteke in the City area the towering striker tried one on the turn, but it was an easy gather for Bobby Olejnik in the City goal.
Liverpool continued to put the Grecians on the back-foot as they hunted an early goal. The home side were rewarded for their early dominance in the tenth minute, as after Benteke slid the ball into Brad Smith on the left-hand side of the City area, the young left-back centred for Welsh international Joe Allen for the easiest of finishes.
Liverpool should have doubled their lead nine minutes later as Benteke headed narrowly over having connected with Joao Teixeria’s well-weighted ball from the left-hand side. Benteke was proving a handful for the City defence as he came close again in the twenty-second minute, heading into the side-netting having been found lurking at the back-post with an in-swinging corner.
Liverpool’s attacks were relentless as they continued to pile pressure on the City back four. Shortly after Benteke’s chance, Brad Smith, a constant threat down the left-hand side, laid the ball to attacking-midfielder Cameron Brannagan on the edge of the City area, but the youngster fired narrowly over from twenty yards out.
Next it was Jordon Ibe’s turn to get in amongst the action as the winger came close with two chances in as many minutes. First his arrowed shot from the right-hand side was saved at full-stretch by Olejnik, before he glided over to the opposite side of the box to unleash another pile-driver that flew just over the City crossbar.
There was still time for Benteke to threaten again shortly before the half-time interval, but his effort was blocked. City may have been under the cosh throughout the first half, but some backs-to-the-wall defending meant that the game was still within their grasp after the break.
HALF-TIME: LIVERPOOL 1-0 EXETER CITY
Clinton Morrison had cut an isolated figure during a first-half of little rest-bite for the away side. City boss Paul Tisdale addressed this problem after the interval, introducing strikers Tom Nichols and Will Hoskins as City sought to take the game to Liverpool in the second half.
Roared on by the contingent of away fans that they were now shooting towards, Exeter created their first chance of the game within a minute of the restart. After Alex Nicholls worked some space on the right-hand side, the City winger attempted a speculative shot from long-range, but his effort sailed high over Mignolet’s goal.
Liverpool were inches away from doubling their lead in the fifty-fourth minute, as Ibe rattled the crossbar with a shot towards Olejnik’s near-post. City’s half-time substitutions were making an impact as they began to gain a foothold in the game. Shortly after the hour mark, Jordan Moore-Taylor rose to meet Hoskins’ cross from the left-hand side, but his effort didn’t have the power to pose any real problems for Mignolet. The home-side responded immediately with a swift, counter-attacking move. After Ibe exchanged passes with Teixeira, the winger fired narrowly wide of Olejnik’s right-hand post.
Jurgen Klopp’s decision to introduce Sheyi Ojo from the Liverpool bench was rewarded in the seventy-fourth minute. Cutting in from the right-hand side, the winger, who spent the first-half of the season on-loan at Wolves, expertly curled past Olejnik into the top left-corner.
Liverpool made it three in the eighty-second minute. After Benteke was given time to look up and slide the ball into the path of Teixeira, the Portuguese youth international did the rest, beating the offside trap to knock the ball past the on-rushing Olejnik.
Liverpool threatened once more in the dying stages, but Benteke overran having rounded Olejnik, and the game ended 3-0 to the home side. City let nobody down, and this experience of a trip to a club at the very highest level will be one that lives in the memory for a long, long time.
FULL-TIME: LIVERPOOL 3-0 EXETER CITY
Man of the Match: The Exeter City supporters