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Smith saves the day as Klopp's kids scramble draw against Exeter

League Two side rewarded for performance with replay at Anfield.

Image: David Davies

JURGEN KLOPP MUST be breathing a sigh of relief after a Brad Smith strike rescued a draw for his inexperienced Liverpool side at Exeter tonight.

The German picked an experimental line-up in the third-round FA Cup tie, fielding just two players with more than four appearances for the club — Christian Benteke and Jose Enrique. And it was just the Spaniard’s first appearance of the season.

A Lee Holmes goal direct from a corner on the stroke of half-time will be giving Liverpool’s stand-in goalkeeper Adam Bogdan nightmares for a while yet. He was under pressure from Tom Nichols at the time but should have dealt with the delivery comfortably.

Few would have been more relieved than the Hungarian then to see Smith steer home on 73 minutes.

Nichols got the home side off to a dream start after just nine minutes, prodding home a Jamie Read cross into the bottom corner.

That lead didn’t last long though as an Exeter defensive mix-up saw the ball fall to 19-year-old Jerome Sinclair in the box. And the youngster tucked it away with ease to claim his first senior goal for Liverpool.

Exeter restored their lead just before the interval when Holmes’ delivery caught out Bogdan. It was against the run of play; Liverpool had the lion’s share of possession but did little with it.

The League Two side started the second period with intent, dominating their Premier League opposition and going for the jugular.

Liverpool, meanwhile, were struggling to get captain Benteke in the game. But they nicked one back through Australian left-back Smith after Exeter failed to clear their lines once again.

It was a nervy finish in Devon but in the end it was a fair result and a replay at Anfield was a just reward for Exeter’s spirited performance.

Clinton Morrison wasn’t introduced for the home side, even when the game was in the balance late on.

Dublin teen Conor Masterson, 17, was on Klopp’s bench but also didn’t feature.

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About the author:

Alan Waldron

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