Football: Second-string Liverpool held by lowly Exeter in FA Cup

Exeter City's Matthew Oakley applauds the fans at the end of the game.
Exeter City's Matthew Oakley applauds the fans at the end of the game.PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON (REUTERS) - Defender Brad Smith's second-half goal rescued a 2-2 draw as injury-hit seven-times FA Cup winners Liverpool denied fourth tier Exeter City a notable third round giantkilling scalp on Friday.

The Premier League outfit, playing their third match in less than a week and without 11 injured first-teamers, fielded a barely recognisable second-string side and nearly slipped up against Exeter who are languishing in the bottom half of League Two.

Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp made 11 changes from the team that beat Stoke City in the opening leg of the League Cup semi-finals on Tuesday with Christian Benteke and forgotten man Jose Enrique, featuring for the first time in nearly a year, the only two with more than four senior appearances.

Exeter, sensing the opportunity to cause a huge upset, went ahead after nine minutes when a low cross from Jamie Reid was poked home by top scorer Tom Nichols.

Liverpool were level three minutes later when teenage striker Jerome Sinclair took advantage of hesitant defending to fire the ball home.

The hosts went back in front on the stroke of halftime when Lee Holmes caught out Liverpool keeper Adam Bogdan direct from a corner, his swirling delivery creeping under the crossbar, but Smith's equaliser on 73 minutes earned a replay at Anfield.