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Exeter City 2, Liverpool 2: First Thoughts

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A weakened Liverpool side and terrible playing conditions added up to a draw that will force an FA Cup replay between the two sides at Anfield.

Dan Mullan/Getty Images

liverpool blog fc sbn

Exeter City 2 Nichols 9’, Holmes 45+1’
Liverpool 2 Sinclair 12’, Smith 73’

  • Pre-Match: Aside from Adam Bogdan and Christian Benteke, Jürgen Klopp runs out a side that wouldn’t look out of place in a reserves match. Plus Jose Enrique, who hasn’t seen action with the first team in more than a year. Interesting times and all that.
  • On the worst pitch many of these Liverpool players will have seen since they were children, the early intent is obvious: get the ball to the wings and then get it in to Benteke quickly.
  • GOAL! Liverpool can’t fashion anything coherent, though, and the first good chance falls to Exeter as Enrique is embarrassed for pace, allowing a low cross that Tom Nichols redirects past Bogdan. The rest of Liverpool’s defence has gone missing on the cover.
  • GOAL! Benteke is kicked in the back of the leg in the area and it looks like there might be a penalty awarded but the ball falls to Sinclar, who fires home before the referee has to make a decision.
  • While a few of the kids, notably Ryan Kent, look lively, the same can’t be said for Jose Enrique, who spends most of the first half being run past by whichever Exeter player takes the ball down Liverpool’s left. Benteke isn’t doing much better as the starting eleven’s one first team regular.
  • GOAL! Olimpico for Exeter! Lee Holmes curls a corner straight into the net! Bogdan tries to tip iover but gets air and the ball in. That’s embarrassing for the ‘keeper.
  • Halftime: A terrible pitch and a chippy match, but Liverpool’s kids have largely acquitted themselves well. It’s the veteran trio of Enrique, Benteke, and Bogdan who have let the side down, and it wouldn’t be a shock to see the two outfield players at least replaced in short order.
  • Benteke finally provides some attacking thrust five minutes into the second half, finding a hole in the Exeter defence and powering a header goalkwards, but it’s well saved well by Bobby Olejnik.
  • After Liverpool’s early chance to pull level, nothing much happens as the increasingly choppy pitch and the clear unfamiliarity of many of Liverpool’s players leave things stalemated.
  • GOAL! Smith underlaps with Ojo staying wide. His low cross is blocked but falls to the left back, who cooly finishes to pull Liverpool level.
  • The game starts to get rough, and Liverpool seem to have a penalty shout, but the ref hasn’t had his whistle out all night and it’s not a huge surprise to see him wave play on.
  • Full Time: In the end it’s a draw. Some will call it the worst possible result for Liverpool, but the reality is it will just give the kids who were run out tonight—though possibly not a disappointing first team player like Benteke—another chance at Anfield.

liverpool blog fc sbn

We'll be back shortly to take an in-depth look at everything that happened in today's game with the full recap. Until then, let us know your take on the ups and downs of the match in the comments, and if you haven't already, join the community on the Liverpool Offside, where we'll have full coverage and lively in-game discussion for every match this season.