Belfast Telegraph

Delight as battling Exeter hold Klopp's boys

Exeter City 2-2 Liverpool

By Phil Blanche

Jurgen Klopp has urged his Liverpool youngsters to be "more robust" after avoiding an FA Cup upset with a 2-2 draw at Sky Bet League Two side Exeter.

The German boss changed his entire starting line-up from the one which faced Stoke on Tuesday and was almost made to pay by an impressive Grecians outfit who twice took the lead.

Tom Nichols' opener was swiftly equalised by 19-year-old Jerome Sinclair but Adam Bogdan conceded direct from a Lee Holmes corner to gift the hosts a 2-1 half-time advantage.

Brad Smith rescued a replay for the Premier League outfit with 17 minutes to go but Klopp was still left wanting more from his side.

"They (Liverpool team) tried everything but it is obvious what we have to learn in future, we have to be more robust," he said.

"We had a few good moments but, in a few one-on-one situations, they were more robust than us so we have to work on that for sure.

"Both goals were really unlucky for us, the first goal was their first offensive situation and the second one, yeah, ok..."

Just three Reds players boasted more than three first-team appearances while Kevin Stewart, Tiago Ilori and Ryan Kent made their debuts for the club.

Yet Klopp did concede he threw them in at the deep end given the tough conditions at St James Park.

"It was really difficult on the pitch but Exeter did really well," he added.

"They (Exeter) had a few parts where they played football, maybe they know on which part of the pitch it is possible to play football and which part you have to play long balls.

"Now we have to play again, I can't believe another game, but you want it like this and we'll be there."

Asked about whether the young Liverpool players were players of the future, Klopp replied: "I mix some team together and you say 'show me the future'. It can't be the future. The players helped us in our situation."

Liverpool have never lost to fourth-tier opposition in the FA Cup before but Nichols felt his side deserved a second chance at Anfield.

"I thought the boys were brilliant," he said.

"I thought we thoroughly deserved a draw.

"We didn't park the bus, we gave it a right go and we've got a trip to Anfield."

On his goal, he added: "I'd been doing some work with our coaches the day before, they were saying 'you've got to run quicker into the box', it was a great ball in and I got on the end of it.

"It was a great start, it was a shame we couldn't hang on but we've got a trip to Anfield.

"The fans have been different class for the past four or five games, the atmosphere was unbelievable."

Midfielder Holmes, who scored the second goal from a corner, said: "We've been working all week on those corners - put it in the mixer and right on top of keeper Adam Bogdan.

"We knew we could cause an upset. We're disappointed we didn't come away with a win."

The replay date is still to be confirmed while the fourth-round draw will be on Monday.

Pundit Alan Shearer added: "It was a brilliant 94 minutes of football.

"From start to finish it was entertaining. What a night for the Exeter chairman and the football club.

"As for Liverpool, the experience the kids will get from the game will carry them on throughout the rest of their careers."

Liverpool have lost their last three FA Cup third-round replays, all of which were at home to teams from a lower league.

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

Subs not used: McAllister, Morrison, Hoskins, Hamon

Goals: Nichols 9,Holmes 45

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

Subs not used: Lallana, Lucas, Fulton, Masterson

Goals: Sinclair 12, Smith 73

Man of match: Tom Nichols

Ref: Stuart Attwell (Warwickshire)

Belfast Telegraph


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