Spoils shared after lengthy stoppageLine-Ups
Exeter City: Olejnik, Woodman, Ribeiro, Harley, Oakley, Holmes, Moore-Taylor (capt), Wheeler, Watkins, Stockley, Brown.
Subs: Noble, McAllister, Morrison, Tillson, Pym, Grant, Taylor.
Goals: Stockley 7’, Wheeler 79’
Carlisle United: Gillespie, Miller, Atkinson (Raynes 74’), Ellis, Gillesphey, Hope, Joyce, Kennedy, Grainger (capt), Wyke, Rigg (Gilliead 60’).
Subs: Hanford, Hery, Brough, Asamoah, McQueen.
Goals: Wyke 32’, Hope 84’
Referee: Lee Swabey
EXETER CITY were pegged-back twice by Carlisle United during an eventful 2-2 draw at St James Park.
Loanee striker Jayden Stockley had given City an early lead in the seventh minute, before the Grecians’ early momentum was disrupted as a fire-scare in the Stagecoach Stand saw the game suspended for just over an hour. Charlie Wyke then levelled for the Cumbrians just after the half-hour mark, before David Wheeler’s goal with eleven minutes remaining was cancelled out by Hallam Hope.
City were unchanged from the side that beat Cambridge United at the Abbey Stadium last weekend, with academy product Ollie Watkins selected to continue on the left-flank as he looked to build on his rich vein of form. For the visitors, fifteen-goal top-scorer Jabo Ibehre was ruled out with injury, meaning that Charlie Wyke and Hallam Hope were partnered to lead the line for the Cumbrians.
Kicking towards the Big Bank it was the hosts who dominated the opening stages of the game, and their efforts were rewarded in the seventh minute. After a long pump upfield was flicked on by David Wheeler, Jayden Stockley was quick to latch on to the loose ball before firing home via a deflection off Carlisle keeper Mark Gillespie.
City’s early momentum was disrupted, though, as a fire-scare in the Stagecoach Stand resulted in fans being evacuated onto the pitch at St James Park just moments after Stockley’s opener. An hour of inspections ensued before the authorities deemed the stand safe for spectators to return to, and the referee got things back under-way.
With the pitch cleared of spectators, the Grecians continued to look lively after play had resumed. Lee Holmes was looking the most likely to make something happen, with the City winger coming close with two chances in quick succession mid-way through the half. First he curled a free-kick just wide of the left-post in the twenty-third minute, before his dinked cross from the left-hand side a minute later only narrowly alluded Stockley at the back-post.
The Grecians were looking good value for their lead, but found themselves pegged back in the thirty-second minute. A defensive mix-up relinquished possession to Wyke on the right-hand side, before the young striker brushed off a couple of challenges and prodded past Bobby Olejnik from close-range.
City didn’t let their heads drop, and they could have re-taken the lead five minutes after Wyke had levelled the scoring. A through-ball sent Wheeler clean through on goal, but Gillespie did well to spread himself and deny the winger an eighth goal of the season.
The final minutes of the half passed by without any serious chances at either end, and the two teams went in for the interval one-hour-and-fifty-five minutes after the three o’clock kick-off.
HALF-TIME: EXETER CITY 1–1 CARLISLE UNITED
Stockley had come out best in most of his aerial duels during the first-half, and it was the loanee striker’s prowess that resulted in the first chance after the break as he headed over from Holmes’ whipped free-kick from the left-hand side.
A spree of chances ensued ten minutes after the re-start as the game entered a frantic spell. First Olejnik tipped a close-range effort onto the cross-bar in the fifty-fourth minute, before there was goalmouth action at the other end four minutes later as Holmes saw his driven effort from just inside the Carlisle area blocked by a defender. Substitute Steven Rigg was presented with the chance to make an instant impact just before the hour mark, but steered his header wide of Olejnik’s left-hand post.
Stockley did well to work an opening in the sixty-eighth minute, but his long-range strike never had the pace behind it to cause Gillespie any real problems. Neither side looked content with a point as the game entered its final quarter, and it was City who re-took the lead in the seventy-ninth minute. David Wheeler did well to get across his marker in the Carlisle area, before firing in Holmes’ cross from the left at the first time of asking.
Just moments after the Cumbrians had cleared one off the line to prevent City from extending their lead, the scores were level again. A long-range effort from Luke Joyce struck the crossbar, and it was Hallam Hope who was first to the rebound as he bundled home with Olejnik left stranded.
Both sides continued to press for a winner in the dying stages, but neither team could find the winning goal as an eventful game at St James Park ended on level terms terms. Credit must go to both sides for putting on a good show despite the difficulties posed by the first-half delay.
FULL-TIME: EXETER CITY 2 –2 CARLISLE UNITED
Attendance: 3,375 (172 away)
Man of the Match: Ollie Watkins