There was an almighty scare for Michael Carrick’s Middlesbrough on this night of frights, but in the end, the 700-mile, 12-hour round trip to Exeter was worth the hassle for their 1,000 soggy supporters.
The North East visitors may joke these were typical Tuesday night conditions where they’re from, but with Storm Ciaran on the way, those who braved the deluge in this cathedral city in Devon were rewarded with a flood of spectacular strikes. The first four goals were fantastic finishes, up there with the best we will see in this fourth round of the Carabao Cup as this tie was locked at 2-2 heading into the final 10 minutes.
Yet it was one simple strike from the penalty spot by Emmanuel Latte Lath in the 82nd minute which mattered most. It sent Championship Middlesbrough into the quarter-finals at the expense of League One Exeter, who can be proud of their battling performance regardless of the result.
The St James Park DJ embraced the Halloween vibe before kick-off. There was Michael Jackson’s Thriller, followed by Bobby Pickett’s Monster Mash. Taylor Swift’s Anti-Hero was a more random selection – as frightening as the odd lyric is in that track – but in truth, you could hardly hear the music for the singing from the away supporters.
They were sure this would be a straightforward trip. Middlesbrough, after all, had recently enjoyed a six-game winning run in the Championship while Exeter had endured a six-game losing run in League One.
Emmanuel Latte Lath’s penalty sent Middlesbrough into the Carabao Cup quarter-finals
Ryan Trevitt gave League One Exeter a shock lead in the first half of the match at St James Park
Morgan Rogers brought Middlesbrough level after half-time with a strike from outside the box
Your browser does not support iframes.
EXETER (3-5-2): Sinisalo, Aimson, Fitzwater (Diabate 60), Hartridge, Mitchell (Harper 34), Kite, Trevitt, Taylor (Richards 79), Jules, Scott, Muskwe (Wildschut 60)
Subs: MacDonald, Dean, Cunningham
Scorer: Trevitt 13′, 66′
Booked: Diabate, Trevitt, Kite
Manager: Gary Caldwell
MIDDLESBROUGH (4-2-3-1): Glover, Dijksteel (Van den Berg 87), Fry, McNair, Bangura (Engel 83), Hackney, Barlaser, Isaiah Jones, Rogers, Silvera (Crooks 87), Latte Lath (Coburn 90)
Subs not used: Clarke, Gilbert, Howson, Coulson, Jamie Jones
Scorer: Rogers 49′, Silvera 59′, Latte Lath 82′ pen
Booked: Rogers, Silvera, Latte Lath
Manager: Michael Carrick
Referee: Graham Scott
This was not quite David v Goliath, but there was only expected to be one winner from this duel in the downpour and the favourites were stunned in the 13th minute.
Kyle Taylor crossed from the right and Ryan Trevitt, the 20-year-old midfielder on loan from Brentford, met it wonderfully at the edge of the area. He side-footed the ball over goalkeeper Tom Glover and off the underside of the crossbar for 1-0.
Exeter’s supporters sang about ‘going to Wembley’. One realist near the press area, predicting they would try to defend this lead for the remainder, said: ‘It’s going to be a long 75 minutes.’
Middlesbrough went to work trying to level it up, with Dael Fry firing a volley narrowly wide. The game was being played exclusively in Exeter’s half, and goalkeeper Viljami Sinisalo needed to deny Samuel Silvera then Anfernee Dijksteel.
Exeter had not secured a win in any competition since defeating Luton in the Carabao Cup’s previous round here in September. That victory may have been over a Premier League team, but manager Gary Caldwell confessed this week that he considered Middlesbrough of the Championship a bigger challenge.
When Sinisalo tipped over Silvera’s attempt, Exeter’s half-time lead was safe.
Carrick wore a face of fury as he squelched towards the tunnel, unhappy with how they had struggled to break down this sturdy back five. Yet Middlesbrough’s manager did not have to wait long before it became 1-1 with his team now shooting towards their own supporters in the second half. Morgan Rogers was 22 yards from goal when he wrapped his right foot around the ball, finding the top corner.
Samuel Silvera put the Championship side ahead with a curling shot into the Exeter net
Trevitt brought Exeter back level but was at fault for conceding the crucial late penalty
Middlesbrough celebrated their late goal which proved enough to see of the threat of an upset
Michael Carrick’s side will take their place in the Carabao Cup quarter-final draw
It was a strike to rival Trevitt’s stylish opener, and then Silvera added his own contender for goal of the game. Cutting inside, the 23-year-old winger buried a curling shot into the far corner for 2-1. Crisis averted, or so the visitors thought.
In the 66th minute, it was 2-2, thanks to another smashing strike. Trevitt took aim from outside of the area and the ball, moving in the air, beat Tom Glover.
There were 7,601 inside St James Park, including 1,031 from Middlesbrough, and it looked like this tie was heading for penalties. Yet it only took one spot-kick, awarded in the 81st minute when Trevitt pulled the shirt of Rogers. To say Exeter’s two-goal man had gone from hero to zero would be harsh. It was a foolish tug, and one for which he paid the price as Latte Lath secured the 3-2 win from the spot.
IT’S ALL KICKING OFF!
It’s All Kicking Off is an exciting new podcast from Mail Sport that promises a different take on Premier League football.
It is available on MailOnline, Mail+, YouTube, Apple Music and Spotify.
Your browser does not support iframes.