MX23RW : Tuesday, July 27 09:34:03| >> :120:4437:4437:
Jan 8, 2016 at 7.55pm UK at St James Park
ExeterExeter City
Nichols (9'), Holmes (45')
FT(HT: 2-1)
Sinclair (12'), Smith (73')

Live Commentary: Exeter City 2-2 Liverpool - as it happened

Relive Sports Mole's live text coverage of the FA Cup third-round tie between Exeter City and Liverpool at St James Park.

League Two Exeter City have earned an FA Cup third-round replay at Anfield after sealing a 2-2 draw against Liverpool at St James Park this evening.

Tom Nichols struck inside the first 10 minutes to give Exeter a surprise lead, but Jerome Sinclair, who was one of 11 changes to the Liverpool side, equalised three minutes later.

Lee Holmes scored directly from a corner on the stroke of half-time, but the Reds got back into the game once again when Brad Smith hammered home in the 73rd minute.

Discover how the game unfolded in Sports Mole's minute-by-minute coverage below.

Evening everyone! The Premier League and Championship are off on a break this weekend to make way for the third round of the FA Cup. The competition began in November, but now is the time when the big boys come to play. Tonight, Liverpool's trip to Exeter kicks off the weekend's action and you can follow every minute of it with us right here!

So, on paper this should be a fairly straightforward task for Liverpool, but history has shown us that the lower league teams can surprise us. Not to mention, Liverpool have a long list of players on the treatment table, which has raised questions that Jurgen Klopp's high-pressing game is taking its toll on the squad. The Merseyside outfit have won this competition seven times and as they are three leagues above this evening's opponents, it would be a disaster for the Reds to be knocked out this early.

For League Two Exeter, it is a dream tie. They may be huge underdogs, but they have the boost of hosting Liverpool and welcoming TV cameras to St James Park. From the club's perspective, they are having a decent FA Cup campaign already by reaching the third round as they were knocked out in the first round for the last five years. Right, before we go any further, let's bring you the team news for tonight's match...

EXETER XI: Oleynik; Woodman, Noble, Ribeiro, Holmes; Nicholls, Moore-Taylor, Reid, Nichols; Tillson, Brown
Subs: McAllister, Oakley, Davies, Morrison, Hoskins, Hamon, Grant

LIVERPOOL XI: Bogdan; Randall, Enrique, Smith, Ilori; Brannagan, Stewart, Kent, Teixeira; Sinclair, Benteke
Subs: Fulton, Lallana, Lucas, Ojo, Maguire, Chirivella, Masterson

Well, we all knew that Jurgen Klopp was going to make changes to his team this evening, and he certainly has! The German coach has an entirely different XI to the side that played Stoke City in midweek. Christian Benteke is the only first-team regular to start and has also been given the captaincy for the first time.

Three players have been given their debuts - Tiago Ilori, who returned to the club this week after his loan spell at Aston Villa was cut short, Kevin Stewart and Ryan Kent. Adam Bogdan has replaced Simon Mignolet in goal, while Ilori and Jose Enrique will form a centre-back partnership due to Liverpool's defensive injury crisis. Young guns Connor Randall and Brad Smith will play as full-backs.

Stewart, Kent, Cameron Brannagan and Joao Carlos Teixeira will line a new-look midfield for Liverpool, while Jerome Sinclair plays up front alongside Benteke. The bench is also full of youngsters, but Adam Lallana and Lucas Leiva are included. So there we go, a whopping 11 changes for Liverpool!

As for Exeter, Christian Ribiero and David Noble have returned to the starting lineup after recovering from injuries, but there is no place for Clinton Morrison in the starting XI. Jamie Reid and Jordan Moore-Taylor have slotted into midfield, but club captain Matt Oakley has to settle for a spot on the bench.

We can't really continue without mentioning Liverpool's vast injury list. They currently have 11 players on the treatment table. Let's list them, shall we? Philippe Coutinho, Dejan Lovren, Mamadou Sakho, Jordan Henderson, Divock Origi, Martin Skrtel, Daniel Sturridge, Jordan Rossiter, Danny Ings, Joe Gomez, and the latest one to suffer is Jordon Ibe. Things couldn't be much worse on the injury-front for Jurgen Klopp.

Seven of those players have hamstring injuries, which has raised numerous questions. Is it down to Klopp's intense training methods? Is it because players are working too hard due to the lack of a winter break? Maybe both? Klopp has rejected suggestions from Sunderland boss Sam Allardyce that he underestimated the "ferocity" of the Premier League, but considering how many of his players are injured, perhaps something needs to be looked at.

Despite the injury concerns, Liverpool have won three of their last four games, the most recent of which was a 1-0 win over Stoke City, which has given them the edge heading into the second leg of their Capital One Cup semi-final. Goals have been hard to come by though, as they have only found the back of the net three times in their previous four matches. Although, let's get some perspective - the majority of these players tonight did not feature in those games!

For Exeter, they have had a miserable run in League Two as they have failed to pick up a win in their last five outings. They suffered defeat in their last four and had 10 goals shipped past them in that time. It does not bode too well for tonight's underdogs, but they have been positive in the FA Cup having beaten Didcot Town and Port Vale without conceding a goal.

These two sides have met before, and it wasn't that long ago either. Liverpool eased to a 3-1 victory at St James Park, with Luis Suarez, Maxi Rodriguez and Andy Carroll - all of whom have left the club - scoring the goals for the Reds.

PREDICTION: Right, there's only five minutes to go until kickoff so it's prediction time! Given Liverpool are playing second and third string players, this could be a great chance for Exeter to cause an upset. They have the roar of the crowd behind them and this Liverpool team have limited experience playing together. However, this game also gives Benteke a chance to prove his ability to Klopp so he will be desperate for goals. This could be a nervy match for the inexperienced Liverpool team, but I expect them to just do enough to progress into the fourth round.

KICKOFF! Liverpool wearing all white get us underway against Exeter, who are in red, white and black.

From the early moments of this game, it's clear that Liverpool's young players are going to be under pressure. The crowd's roar fills the ground every time one of their players get the ball.

An early opportunity for both sides as Liverpool's Texeira storms down the left before sending in a cross looking for Benteke, but it's easily cleared. At the other end, Holmes breaks away from his marker and crosses into the box, but Bogdan is able to collect with little pressure around him.

The pitch is not in the best state due to the recent bad weather, and as Liverpool are likely to have trained on pitches in top condition, it'll be interesting to see how they cope with it.

Read comes close to latching onto the ball as it's fed through to him in the final third, but Ilori reads the move well and gets across his man to get to the ball first.

Sinclair sends the ball forward to Benteke, who links up well with the youngster. The Belgian continues his run into the box and Brown goes down to tackle - he gets a touch on the ball, but he doesn't quite clear it. Although, his touch was just enough to make it bobble ahead of Benteke and give the goalkeeper time to collect.


What a start for Exeter! The home side have stunned the Premier League heavyweights by going a goal in front thanks to Nichols. Read made the goal as he managed to muscle away from Enrique to send a low cross into the box. He finds his teammate, who slots home as he's falling to the ground. The League Two side are in dreamland!

At the other end, Smith tries to respond instantly for Liverpool by unleashing a long-range shot, but bodies are filling the box and his attempt gets blocked.


Well, that didn't take long! Liverpool have equalised through Sinclair, and it came with a bit of luck. The ball comes into the box to Benteke's feet, but the striker gets fouled from behind in the penalty area. Exeter's defence try to scramble the ball away, but Sinclair manages to nick it and send it into the back of the net. Game on!

Since going a goal down, Liverpool have been on the frontfoot. The visitors get a corner and Smith swings it in to find Stewart, but he struggles to bring it down. The ball is still alive, but Exeter do well to stay solid and prevent Liverpool from getting a shot at goal.

Teixeira has shown some decent skill in this first half and he goes one step further with a shot at goal, but it's deflected behind for a corner. The ball comes in, but it's overhit and the threat disappears.

Exeter haven't really threatened since they scored inside the first 10 minutes. At the moment they are trying to prevent Liverpool from getting a second goal, and they've managed to do that so far, but they need to focus on the left-hand side because at the moment, the visitors are getting plenty of joy.

Moore-Taylor launches a long ball up top, but Ilori is able to get there first. At the moment, when Exeter have the ball, they are struggling to keep hold of it.

Randall tries to whip in a low cross into the box from the right side, but Moore-Taylor kicks it out for a throw-in. The ball comes back in but a rash challenge from Noble on Kent results in a free kick for the visitors. Brannagan plays it short to Randall, who charges into the box and whips in a cross, which comes close to reaching the far post, but it ends up going out for a goal kick.

Exeter get their first corner of the game after Ilori cut out a cross from the right wing, but they are unable to make the most of it and the ball eventually goes back to Liverpool due to an offside call.

The hosts get a free kick in Liverpool's half and the ball is lofted into the box. Both Moore-Taylor and Nichols try to connect with headers, but the power isn't there from Moore-Taylor and he misses the target.

CHANCE! Great movement from Ribeiro as he latches on to a loose ball after his marker slips. He storms down the right-hand side and swings the ball into the box. Liverpool's defence look out of sorts and the ball eventually bounces to Noble, but his shot sky rockets over the crossbar.

At the other end, Brannagan shows some great vision by playing the ball over the top after spotting Randall's run - he sends a low cross into the area, and it's cleared for a corner, but it comes to nothing for the visitors.

Exeter are under pressure as Sinclair chases the ball to the byline, but the home side's defenders do well to nick the ball and calmly get the ball out of danger.

Tillson has a great chance to break, but he gets fouled in the process. The free kick results in Holmes storming down the left before whipping a cross in, which is forced out for a corner. Exeter fail to make the most of the set piece, though, and Benteke heads clear.

Some nervy defending from Ilori as his tries to head clear, but there's no conviction and the ball drops in a dangerous area. Stewart is there to help out and hooks the ball away.

WIDE! Ribeiro is inches close from giving Exeter the lead! A perfect cross from Holmes is whipped into the area after he beat Randall. Liverpool's defenders and keeper get nowhere near it as Ribeiro unleashes a shot, but it just drifts wide of the post.

Exeter have piled the pressure on in these closing stages of the first half. They get a free kick close to the right corner flag, but Liverpool manage to clear the danger once the ball is lifted into the box.


My oh my! Exeter are going to be heading into the half-time break with the lead! The home side get a corner and Holmes swings it in, not just into the box, but straight into the goal! Bogdan makes a mess of it as he lets the ball dip under the bar. Liverpool have work to do.


Wow, what an end to the first half! Exeter have the lead over seven-time winners Liverpool. The League Two outfit struck inside the first 10 minutes through Tom Nichols, but the Reds responded quickly when Jerome Sinclair slotted into the back of the net. The key moment came on the stroke of half-time when Lee Holmes scored from the corner flag!

Liverpool did well to respond after going a goal down and once they equalised, Klopp's young guns had a sustained period of pressure, but Exeter managed to soak up the pressure and made the contest more balanced in the final 15 minutes of the game. The home team ended the half on the frontfoot and now it's up to Liverpool's inexperienced side to bounce back once again.

Before the game, I mentioned that this would be a good opportunity for Benteke to prove to Klopp that he deserves a place in the first team, but so far, the Belgian has not shown too much. He had a relatively quiet 45 minutes, but that could largely be down to the lack of service. Benteke is the type of player who needs high crosses into the box, but he's not received many so far.

Can Exeter hold on to their lead and cause a huge upset or will Liverpool's young team come from behind to earn a victory? Second half coming up!

RESTART! Exeter get the second half underway...

Exeter have started the second half on the frontfoot - they look intent on extending their lead. Smith is under pressure early and he wildly knocks the ball out for a throw-in.

Benteke gets a taste as the ball is played into the box. The Belgian gets a flick on it, but it bobbles out behind the line. It looks as though it came off an Exeter player, but the referee says goal kick.

Ribeiro and the entire Exeter crowd are shouting for a penalty after he goes down in the box after a tackle from Stewart. Replays show that the referee made the right decision not to give it as Ribeiro tripped and slipped after the tackle on him.

SAVE! What a stop from Olejnik! Brannagan sends a great cross into the box, which finds the head of Benteke, who leaps over his marker. The Liverpool striker heads the ball down, but the Exeter keeper reacts well and turns it over the bar.

Oh dear, Smith is left a bid red faced after his attempted cross skies high into the stands. The Liverpool full-back shows attacking intent by storming down the pitch, but as he tries a cross (or maybe a shot?) it doesn't connect well and the ball joins the crowd.

Liverpool's defence are all in a muddle as the ball is sent over the top. Read gets away from Enrique and has a good chance of getting a shot on target, but Liverpool nervously manage to clear.

LIVERPOOL SUB: Klopp makes the first change of the game as Kent makes way for Chirivella.

CHANCE! It's Ribeiro again, but he squanders his chance...again! The Wales international leaps high over Brannagan as the ball is sent into the box from the left, but Ribeiro's header misses the target.

Nichols looks confident as he runs into the box going one on one with Ilori, who is showing that he's not had much football this season, but the Liverpool defender manages to knock the ball out for a corner, which comes to nothing.

EXETER SUB: The home side make their first change of the match as Oakley comes on to replace Noble.

It's all Exeter at the moment. Liverpool looked to have run out of steam and the hosts are on a high due to their 2-1 lead. Liverpool's best chance of this half was Benteke's header, but currently, it's the home side who look the more likely to score.

Nichols earns a free kick in a very dangerous area on the edge of the box! The forward was fouled by Ilori, who avoids a yellow card. Can Exeter extend their lead...?

...No. Nichols goes for goal from the set piece and tries to dip his shot behind Bogdan, but his attempt is too high and the ball goes over the bar.

EXETER SUB: Ribeiro won't be getting on the scoresheet tonight. The Welshman is taken off the pitch and replaced with Davies.

Just a few minutes after coming on, Davies gets a sniff at goal as the ball is squared to him on the edge of the area. He's in acres of space and goes for a thumping drive, but it swerves wide.

Liverpool get a rare spell of possession in Exeter's half, but it doesn't last long as the home side nick the ball back. In all honesty, the Reds look like the lower league side at the moment! Granted the team is a far cry from their best, but they're not threatening at all at the moment. Perhaps it's time for Adam Lallana?

Well, that sums up Liverpool's half! The Reds seem comfortable knocking the ball around the area, but Chirivella's misplaced pass trickles out for a throw-in with nobody near the ball.

LIVERPOOL SUB: Klopp makes his second change of the game as Ojo replaces Sinclair. Still no Lallana...


Well, it's definitely not been coming, but Liverpool are back in the game thanks to a strike from full-back Smith. The team are on the charge in the final third and the ball is played out left to Ojo, who sends a low cross across goal, and it's poked clear off the line from Moore-Taylor, but it goes straight to the feet of Smith, who hammers it home with his left foot.

Liverpool have been very quiet in this half, but after finding a goal they have found some attacking presence. They are knocking the ball around searching for another way through.

LIVERPOOL SUB: The visitors make their final change and neither Lallana nor Lucas are going to be seen this evening as Maguire comes on for Ilori, who has been struggling for most of the half.

Liverpool get a free kick in a decent area and it's Smith who delivers it in from the left side. The ball is too high for Benteke, but it falls to Stewart, who takes a stab at it. The effort gets blocked and Exeter get a goal kick.

At the other end, Nichols fizzes the ball across goal, but there's nobody there to latch onto it and Randall manages to swing it away. Will there be a winner in the next 10 minutes?!

SAVE! Benteke, who has been quite for most of the game, draws play to the left edge of the box before sending a back heel to Teixeira, who charges into the six-yard box, but the keeper manages to block.

Ojo and his Liverpool teammates shout for a penalty but the referee waves it away. The Liverpool player goes down under the challenge of Brown and it's a close one, but the Exeter defender gets a touch on the ball.

EXETER SUB: It's the final change of the night as goalscorer Holmes is replaced with Grant.

Ojo has been a lively addition to this young Liverpool team as he goes round Nichols and drives to the byline before whipping a cross from the left into the box, but Olejnik manages to snatch the ball relatively comfortably.

Oh dear, Smith drops to the ground clutching his calf. Surely not another injury for Liverpool?! Klopp has used all his subs so the full-back will have to continue regardless. He manages to get to his feet, though, so perhaps the youngster is just suffering with heavy legs.

Unless we have a dramatic final few minutes, it looks as though this third-round tie is heading for a replay at Anfield. Exeter will be happy with that as they get some extra cash and another chance of reaching the fourth round.

Exeter have found a fresh wave of attack and are being cheered on by the ground as the search for a winner. They get a corner and it's whipped in but Enrique gets to the ball after a scramble and tries to move out of the area and gets fouled in the process.

These dying few minutes have been full of scrappy chances and just as scrappy clearances! Both sides are looking for a winner but time is running out.


So there we have it, Exeter have earned themselves a third-round replay at Anfield. The League Two side will be the happier of the teams even though they relinquished the lead twice. There aren't many times that their players will be able to say that they played at Anfield. Tom Nichols nudged Exeter ahead in the ninth minute, but Jerome Sinclair responded with a goal of his own three minutes later. On the stroke of half-time, Lee Holmes netted directly from a corner kick, but Brad Smith found a second equaliser for Liverpool deep into the second half. That's all from us, and until next time, goodbye!

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