Classic Match | Liverpool 2016

On Friday the 8th of January 2016, City welcomed Premier League giants Liverpool to St James Park, for a Friday night encounter that kicked off the third round of the FA Cup in front of the BBC cameras.

The match was also Jurgen Klopp’s first introduction to the famous old cup competition, and with several injuries to his regular first team, he was forced into playing a largely second-string team that gave us hope that there could be an upset on the cards.

With the famously vocal Kopites huddled together in the St James Road end, it was the Grecians on the Big Bank that were making the noise, as the Red Legion led the packed crowd in encouraging the boys in red and white to make history.

And how nearly they did! Despite the two sides being separated by 72 league positions, it was City who took hold of the game early on, taking the lead after just nine minutes as Jamie Reid’s inch-perfect low cross was perfectly steered into the bottom corner by Tom Nichols.

Liverpool responded quickly, immediately pressing the City backline, and when some confusion in the area led to the ball falling at the feet of Jerome Sinclair, the debutant made no mistake as he finished from ten yards to level the scores.

With the game in the balance, City forced a corner in front of the visiting fans, and Lee Holmes conjured his best Peter Hatch impression, by emulating the ECFC Hall of Famer in scoring directly from the (very same) corner in an FA Cup tie.

With the crowd in full voice, and the score at 2-1, it was still Exeter who continued to show the greater attacking intent, as an unfamiliar Liverpool team struggled to find cohesion as the game progressed.

The opposition may have been made up of debutants and reserve players, but they still had £32.5m forward, Christian Benteke leading the line. However, the Belgian was a peripheral figure throughout the evening, save for a thumping header that was tipped over the bar by Bobby Olejnik.

As the game moved into the final ten minutes, City were on for an historic victory, but as their hard-working legs began to tire, Sheyi Ojo made an instant impact from the bench when his break down the left flank led to Brad Smith drilling home to save Klopp’s blushes.

At the end of the match it felt like it could have been more for City, and perhaps it should have been, but from the pitch to the stands it was entertaining to the last, and like all the classic cup games at the Park, one not to forget.

Final Score: ECFC 2 LFC 2

Exeter City: Olejnik, Ribeiro (Davies 66), Brown, Moore-Taylor, Woodman, Tillson, Nicholls, Noble (Oakley 62), Holmes (Grant 84), Reid, Nichols.

Liverpool: Bogdan, Randall, Ilori (Maguire 77), Enrique, Smith, Kent (Chirivella 57), Brannagan, Stewart, Teixeira, Sinclair (Ojo 71), Benteke.

Man of the match: Tom Nichols

Attendance: 8,298

Written by: Will Barrett


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