An incredible goal from Nicky Featherstone paved the way for
an astonishing Pools comeback as they recovered from 2-0 down to claim a draw
Dave Challinor's men looked dead and buried at half time
after goals from Ryan Bowman and Nigel Atangana had put the home side in the drivingseat.
However, Featherstone lashed an unstoppable strike in to the
top corner from almost thirty yards before Nicke Kabamba scrambled home an equalisereleven minutes from time.
The Pools line-up showed one change as Peter Kioso was
forced to sit the tie out with concussion so his place in defence went toKenton Richardson, while 16-year-old prospect Joe Grey was named on the bench.
Pools had the first real opening though when Josh Hawkes
brilliantly thread a ball through to Gime Toure who skilfully chopped back insideon to his right foot but his shot rippled the side netting.
The opening goal arrived on 21 minutes when City worked the
ball well on the right hand side and, when Atangana whipped a ball in to thebox, Bowman was there to nod in from close-range.
Pools almost got back on level terms immediately when a
slick move saw Hawkes find space on the edge of the box but his powerful driveflew just wide of the post.
It was 2-0 to the hosts just before the half-hour mark when
Dean Moxey met a back post corner with a firm, looping header which was pawedaway by Ben Killip only for Atangana to ram in the rebound.
Again Pools looked to respond positively and Hawkes again
shimmied in to a bit of space 25 yards out but this time he sent his shot wellover the bar.
Pools had to come out on the front foot at the start of the secondhalf but they were met with a well-organised and determined City defence.
A well-worked and patient build-up saw James presented with
a chance to turn inside from the left and left fly but his curling effort didn'tdo enough and fell wide of the post.
However, Pools weren't taking no for an answer and James was
back it a minute later, seeing his shot on the edge of the box blocked before
the host's rearguard also prevented Hawkes' shot from testing keeper JonnyMaxted.
Killip saved well from Bowman after a flowing counter-attack
from Exeter as Pools began to throw more men forward and leave themselvesvulnerable at the back.
The game swung on 72 minutes when Williams danced in from
the right and drew a fine save from Killip before the Pools keeper sprung to
his feet to deny Lee Martin and then Jake Taylor with an astonishing double-save.It proved pivotal.
Pools immediately charged to the other end of the field and
Featherstone wandered on to the ball thirty yards out to drive a rising thunderbolt
in to the top left corner of the net to pull his side back in to contention inthe tie.
The mood changed, suddenly there were nerves on the pitch
and on the home terraces – and within six minutes Pools had squared things up. James
was played in on the edge of the box and he nudged it square for the arriving
Richardson whose shot proved too hot to handle for Maxted and, when it bounced
against the post, Pools substitute Nicke Kabamba reacted quickest to bundle ithome.
The could have been late drama when Taylor drove in to space
twenty yards out and sent a curling effort on goal but, with Killip beaten, theball clipped the outside of the post on its way wide.
The two sides will now meet again at The Vic in a replay
likely to be played a week on Tuesday to decide who progresses to Round Threeof this year's FA Cup.
Full Time: Exeter City 2 Pools 2
Exeter City: Maxted, Sweeney, Moxey, A Martin, Williams, Collins, Atangana, Sparkes, Law (Taylor 68), Seymour (L Martin 68), Bowman.
Subs not used: Visser, Parkes, Jay, Fisher, Richardson.
Booked: Sparkes, Sweeney, A Martin.
Pools: Killip, Richardson, Raynes (Cunningham 72), Kerr, Kitching, Featherstone, Mafuta (Kabamba 72), Hawkes, Donaldson, James, Toure.
Subs not used: Crichlow-Noble, Kennedy, Holohan, Muir, Grey.
Attendance: 3,638 (133 Poolies)
Referee: Josh Smith.