A late Sam Nombe goal earned Exeter City a replay in a tough Emirates FA Cup First Round encounter with Bradford City.
Nombe slid home with four minutes to play to cancel out Theo Robinson’s first half strike, in a tough afternoon for the Grecians.
Cameron Dawson made a host of heroic saves to keep City in the tie before the Grecians found the late equaliser, meaning City are in the hat for the Second Round and extend their unbeaten run to sixteen.
With a place in Round Two up for grabs, Matt Taylor made two switches from last week’s dramatic victory over Salford City. Colin Daniel and Nigel Atangana were reinstated to the side.
The Bantams looked the livelier in the opening minutes, winning a couple of corners. Cam Dawson had his first involvement punching precariously from underneath his crossbar.
Paudie O’Connor wasn’t fooling anyone when the centre-half when he went for goal from range. The corner flag was the only upright threatened. Atangana similarly tried his luck though his effort was only ten yards wide instead.
Jake Caprice, reverted to right-back, had the better of his man before floating a nervous ball into the Bradford box but Richard O’Donnell managed to flap the effort away as City grew in confidence.
Bantams’ dangerman Charles Vernam set his sights from twenty-five yards though only struck the ball wide. Vernam again went close in the 20th minute. His curler though was safely seen past the post the Dawson.
A minute later the home side rattled the woodwork. Tentative defending from City allowed Theo Robinson in behind. The striker’s half volley beat Dawson but bounced off the bar on its way over.
The Bantams’ dominance paid on 28 minutes. Robinson capitalised on a defensive misjudgement and calmly rolled the ball under the keeper to put the home side ahead.
Dawson made a fine stop from Vernam’s rasping effort, as the shot-stopper got down well to palm away the Bradford man’s attempt.
With change needed at the break, Matt Taylor opted for exactly that as Jonathan Grounds came on for George Ray and the Grecians started the Second Half much more settled in possession.
Robinson went for goal seven minutes into the half firing over and soon flashed a ball across the box as the home side looked more threatening.
Sam Nombe had his first real involvement of the game cutting onto his right foot and daisy-cutting a shot through to O’Donnell.
Bradford were unlucky not to double their lead with a beauty. Levi Sutton volleyed from the edge of the box and was unfortunate to see his effort cannon off the foot of the post. Vernam again had the Valley Parade crowd on their feet as he sent in a fizzing effort into the side-netting.
Jevani Brown mustered a tame effort on goal and Dawson was on hand to stop Elliot Watts strike, but in a brighter moment for Exeter, Jack Sparkes returned to playing action in the 73rd minute.
Cam Dawson re-enacted his heroics from Salford as he clambered across the dimensions of the six-yard box to save an almost certain goal. Up the other end Tim Dieng had City’s best chance of the match.
Josh Key worked the ball to the by-line and delivered a low ball across the area. The Frenchman didn’t get enough of a connection on the shot and O’Donnell was equal to it.
Dieng had another minor glimpse at goal when he met Brown’s deep corner, but could only head into the keepers mits.
Dawson yet again kept City in the tie with another brilliant save. Watt’s driven effort was goalbound but for the Yorkshireman to get his gloves to it.
And Dawson’s tenacity was rewarded at the other end as City found themselves level on 86 minutes.
Josh Key’s superb mazy run sat down two Bradford defenders. The wing-backs low ball was met by Nobe in the middle who squeezed the ball into the net and send the excellent City fans into raptures!
As referee Seb Stockbridge added a suspicious five minutes City almost found the winner on the counter. Nombe burst forward into the Bradford half. His square ball found Brown who cut onto his left foot, but his shot was deflected wide.
The ref called an end to the game meaning the two teams have to do it all again at St James Park on November 16.
Bradford City: O’Donnell, Threlkeld, O’Connor, Canavan, Songo’o, Gillead, Foulds, Vernam (Cooke 68'), Watt, Robinson (Angol 77’), Sutton
Subs: Hornby, Kelleher, Evans,, Staunton, Cousin-Dawson, Scales
Exeter City: Dawson, Caprice (Key 56’), Sweeney, Ray (Grounds 46’), Hartridge (Sparkes 73’), Daniel (Edwards 56’), Atangana (Dieng 56’), Collins, Jay, J. Brown, Nombe
Subs: S. Brown, Taylor, Kite
Referee: Sebastian Stockbridge
Attendance: 3,236 (238 away)