Exeter manager Gary Caldwell hailed a terrific team performance as his 10 men took a giant leap towards League One safety with a 1-0 win over Burton at St James Park.

Reece Cole struck the only goal of the game, in the 41st minute, before Exeter’s Zak Jules was sent off as the players walked down the tunnel at half-time for an incident unseen.

But Exeter dug deep and held firm as Burton pressed for an equaliser, although the Brewers were just as vulnerable on the counter-attack in an end-to-end encounter.

“I thought we started the game really well and we should have scored in the first 15 minutes, we created real clear-cut chances and if we score one of them then the game is totally different,” Caldwell said.

“We then got a bit frustrated midway through the half before we picked it up again and scored an amazing goal with how we wanted to play.

“I didn’t see the incident at half-time, I didn’t see that, but we lost a player and in the second half, the character, the determination and team spirit and understanding of how we wanted to play the game and see the game out was absolutely outstanding.

“They had one moment where they hit the bar, but they didn’t create much else and the way the people inside the stadium stood up in that last 15 minutes when everyone was on their knees – myself included – was fantastic. The players on the park were putting everything in and they needed the supporters to get behind them and they certainly did.”

Deji Oshilaja and John Brayford both hit the bar for Burton, while Antwoine Hackford passed up a good chance.

Frustrated Albion boss Martin Paterson said: “It’s very simple to explain – it was one of the softest goals I have ever seen conceded, a simple give-and-go that can’t happen in professional football; wing-backs getting done on the inside, a cut-back and people not tracking their runners.

“All of a sudden, we are 1-0 down and the problem then is that we don’t score goals. I don’t know the statistic or how many opportunities we had inside the six-yard box to put the ball in the back of the net, I have to be careful I am not hanging anyone personally out to dry, but it will be me that has to take it in the chin.

“I have no problem with that, but the issue is that we don’t take opportunities to score goals. We have to find a way and it is hard to explain because we had, in my opinion, five or six clear-cut opportunities at goal and have not scored one.

“It’s unacceptable from myself and from the team. We broke them down, we had a one-v-one, John Brayford hit the bar and there were crosses that should have been converted but we didn’t score and it’s hard to defend that.”

Exeter manager Gary Caldwell hailed his side’s comeback as they stunned promotion-chasing Peterborough 2-1 at St James Park.

After Harrison Burrows converted a first-half penalty, Posh missed several chances to increase their lead before they had Michael Olakigbe sent off after picking up a second yellow card.

That galvanised Exeter, with Reece Cole’s free-kick ending up in the back of the net off some combination of goalkeeper Nicholas Bilokapic and Dion Rankine before Jadel Katongo headed a superb Cole cross into his own net to complete a remarkable comeback for the Grecians.

“They are a very good team and asked a lot of questions of us in the first half,” Caldwell said. “I thought defensively we were good and restricted them to little, we had a problem down our right-hand side where we were a bit loose and that led to the goal.

“We didn’t have a lot of shots to defend, we were patient in how we pressed and asked them to build up with lots of passes, which kept them in front of us, so I was happy with that, but I thought we could have been braver in possession and quicker with our passing.

“Too many times we passed back and put each other under pressure, but I think it is a fantastic win and the first time we have won ugly.

“The sending-off had a big impact in the game but in the second half I thought we were a yard quicker, we had more impetus in that second half and that led to the red card, so all credit to the players for changing that mentality at half-time and coming out and making the game different in the second half.”

Posh boss Darren Ferguson was left to rue his side’s profligacy as he said: “The game changed when we didn’t kill them off, we had so many opportunities to kill them off at the start of the second half – and the end of the first half – and even with 10 men, we had the better chances with our pace on the counter attack.

“The sending-off is naive and the young boy is distraught in there because he feels like he’s let his team down – which he hasn’t, we win and lose together. It’s a silly challenge, a naive challenge and I thought it was a soft sending-off but it’s irrelevant, he’s given it.

“I thought we were comfortable with 10 men and it took a free-kick – a good free-kick – to get them back into the game, but they weren’t hurting us. Our shape was good, we looked the more threatening team with the better chances.

“I am repeating myself because in so many games this season we are missing chance after chance and it is catching up with us now.”

Exeter manager Gary Caldwell felt his players were “too safe” as they drew yet another blank in a goalless draw with Cambridge at St James Park.

The Grecians have failed to score in 15 of their 27 League One games and their need for a striker was never more evident than against a U’s side that were there for the taking.

“I thought we played well for large periods and dominated the game with possession, first half in particular, without really creating a great deal,” Caldwell said.

“I thought we were too safe and didn’t risk enough in their half and their final third.

“Second half, after a few tweaks on how we play, I thought we were much more aggressive, we created more chances and I thought we were the only team looking to win the game.

“They were happy to sit in and play on the counter-attack and look to score off a set-piece, which I thought the players were brilliant at stopping that and being really focused.

“It was something we spoke about before and I thought we defended them really well, but all in all, I thought the players were excellent apart from in that last bit of putting the ball in the back of the net.

“We have to be more creative in those moments. I still think we are a little tentative and in one-v-one situations, we didn’t have the aggression that we can have normally, but it is the hardest part of football and where you need your players to have real belief.

“But it wasn’t for a want of trying, I thought the players gave everything.”

Cambridge boss Neil Harris was pleased with the draw and a clean sheet.

He said: “I am happy with a point but firstly, a big thank you to those crazy (Cambridge) fans that have come all that way to watch a game of football. It wasn’t the prettiest game, but we were effective.

“I asked them before the game to show me spirit, resilience and desire to get a clean sheet and some moments of quality as well. We had one good moment of quality and the one moment of quality that Exeter created, Jack Stevens made a great save.

“It was a vital point, a pleasing point and I am pleased for my players, pleased for the staff, but really pleased for the fans that have come all this way in this weather to come and watch a game of football.

“There was a lack of quality and the pitch wasn’t easy for the players of both teams and that added to the ugly nature of the game. But if we have to be ugly at times to gain results, then so be it.”

Exeter scored just their fourth goal in 14 matches to beat Wycombe 1-0 at St James Park and while it was not a thing of beauty, it meant everything to manager Gary Caldwell.

City’s poor form – they had not won in League One since September 16, a run of 13 games – has seen fans call for a change in manager, but the Grecians picked up a win they so desperately needed when Sonny Cox bundled the ball in from close range against a poor Wycombe side.

On-loan goalkeeper Vili Sinisalo then preserved the win with a penalty save deep into stoppage time from Luke Leahy, much to the delight of the under-fire Caldwell.

“It was an amazing goal! You score goals by running towards the scoring zone and by maintaining attacks, not just having one action,” he said.

“Too often we play good football to a point and then nothing comes of it but our energy, enthusiasm and desire to keep going was incredible. The goal summed it up – it is something that we work on and the most amazing goal I have ever seen!

“Sonny is a player with a big future. He went away on loan and showed his quality at a level way below where we are playing, but the way he has come back and shown improvement in his physicality and confidence shows the loan did him the world of good.

“Coming off the bench, he has been outstanding but today, I thought he was outstanding and it was his best performance he has had for this football club and like I have said many times, he has huge potential.

“Then, if you ever want someone to step up to the plate in a big game in a big moment, it is Vil Sinisalo and it was an incredible save from the penalty.

“They were the stand-out moments, but every player, every staff member and every person inside this stadium can be proud.”

Wycombe came close to levelling in stoppage time when Dale Taylor struck the post, before the visitors won a spot-kick when Harry Kite was deemed to have fouled Taylor, only for Leahy to miss the chance.

Wanderers boss Matt Bloomfield said: “I thought we were just off it in the first half. We were half a yard away from second balls when they dropped down and we weren’t compact and condensed enough in our shape and we played a little bit too open.

“Ultimately those little moments start to feed into a bit of momentum for Exeter, we corrected a couple of bits at half-time and I thought we were better in the second half.

“We looked more of a threat and their goal came at a time when we were in the ascendancy. To come so close at the end – the disallowed goal, Dale hitting the crossbar and the penalty…

“The margins of winning and losing games of football are invariable very close and they have been going against us recently.”

Middlesbrough boss Michael Carrick praised his side as they overcame spirited Exeter to win a cracking Carabao Cup fourth round clash at St James Park 3-2.

League One Exeter took a shock lead with a stunning Ryan Trevitt strike but two goals in quick succession from Morgan Rogers and Sammy Silvera turned the tie on its head at the start of the second half.

Trevitt levelled things up with another brilliant long-range strike but went from hero to villain as his needless shirt pull on Rogers inside the penalty box allowed Emmanuel Latte Lath to settle a pulsating clash in the Championship side’s favour from the spot eight minutes from time.

“It’s kind of what you come to expect with games like this, there was obviously a lot to play for and a lot at stake,” Carrick said.

“I thought we started all right and we had a lot of the ball. We played OK without really looking dangerous, but we had enough of the ball and then they scored an unbelievable strike from nowhere and it gave them a lot in the game then to hold on to.

“In the second half I thought we took it up a level, the spaces started to open up, which we exploited, and we scored some really good goals, so I am delighted to be through.

“I am delighted for the travelling supporters – 1,000 came down on a Tuesday night, which is absolutely amazing – and I am delighted the goals were in front of them, so they could celebrate.

“We made a few changes to the team and it is not always easy to click straight away, so we were calm at half-time and just said to keep believing, keep penetrating the spaces and playing positively and they did that.

“There were some terrific goals as well, we probably could have had more but it was a good tie for the neutral with plenty of good goals as well.”

Exeter were aiming to reach the quarter-finals for the first time in their history and manager Gary Caldwell cut a proud but frustrated figure at full-time.

“It was a brilliant performance, loads of effort and endeavour,” he said. “We got asked serious questions against a top side, a potential Premier League side, next season.

“It wasn’t for the want of trying we went out of the Cup. All credit to the players, they gave everything and we got beaten by the better team tonight. Sometimes you have to hold your hands up to that and we wish them well in the next round.

“It was a brilliant atmosphere in the stadium right from kick-off, the players took that on board and we had a clear game plan.

“It was a poor start to the second half but a great reaction and Trevitt scored an amazing goal and, at that point, it was game on and it was a proper cup tie. But a soft penalty decides it.”

Exeter gave Middlesbrough a scare in the fourth round of the Carabao Cup, but the Championship side’s superior quality ultimately prevailed as they won a cracking cup tie 3-2 at a sodden St James Park.

Boro started the first competitive fixture between the two clubs well but it was League One Exeter that broke the deadlock in impressive style in the 13th minute.

A quick throw released Kyle Taylor down the right and he pulled the ball back to the edge of the penalty box where Ryan Trevitt hit a stupendous half-volley over goalkeeper Tom Glover and into the goal off the underside of the crossbar.

Dael Fry volleyed just wide as Exeter struggled to clear a corner, while Samuel Silvera forced Vili Sinisalo into a smart stop as Michael Carrick’s team responded well to the setback.

Exeter suffered an injury blow when the dangerous Demetri Mitchell, the hero of their 1-0 win in the previous round against Premier League Luton, hobbled off and was replaced by Vincent Harper in the 33rd minute.

The home side rarely threatened going forward but approaching half-time Harper stood the ball up perfectly to the back post, only for James Scott to get his header wrong and see the opportunity go begging.

Boro always looked the more likely to score and went close again on the stroke of half-time, but Sinisalo was equal to Silvera’s effort and tipped it over the bar.

The Teessiders stepped things up after the break and drew level within four minutes of the restart.

Jack Fitzwater failed to clear his lines – although it appeared the Exeter was fouled – and the ball came to Morgan Rogers, who curled a delightful shot into the roof of the net from 20 yards.

It got worse for Exeter just before the hour mark as Silvera was given too much space on the edge of the penalty and he lashed a shot that skipped off the slick surface, through the arms of Sinisalo and into the bottom corner.

Silvera was just off target with another effort from distance, with the Championship side in complete control of the game.

However, out of the blue, Trevitt drew Exeter level in the 66th minute with another superb long range strike, which took a slight deflection of Paddy McNair before nestling into the bottom corner of the net.

Sinisalo made a brilliant save to deny the dangerous Silvera, who slipped through the Exeter defence with ease, Hayden Hackney curled a free-kick into the side-netting, then Exeter’s Finnish international goalkeeper saved well from Emmanuel Latte Lath.

However, Trevitt went from hero to villain as he gave away a needless penalty for pulling the shirt of Rogers and Latte Lath sent Sinisalo the wrong way from 12 yards to settle a pulsating tie with eight minutes remaining and give Boro an eighth win in nine matches in all competitions.

Paris St Germain boss Luis Enrique has admitted Newcastle were the pot four team nobody wanted to draw as they renew their acquaintance with the Champions League.

The French side, along with AC Milan and Borussia Dortmund, have been pitched into Group F battle with the Magpies, who are back in the big time after a 20-year absence following last season’s fourth-placed Premier League finish.

Enrique, part of the Barcelona side which lost 3-2 at St James’ Park in Newcastle’s very first fixture in the competition in 1997, knows they could be a major threat on their return to the European stage.

He said: “They are the team from the fourth pot in the draw that no-one really wanted, of course. We know that they play at a high level.

“They’re very good in possession, they’re very good off the ball as well. They play with a very high press – they’re almost a complete football team.

“Tomorrow, they’re going to be playing in front of their extremely passionate supporters as well, and that’s going to help them.

“All teams can go far in the Champions League. There’s no reason why Newcastle can’t go far either. No-one wanted to play them, I guess, also because we saw how good they were last season.

“It’s a spectacular place to go and play and it will also be good for us to see what our team is made of playing at St James’ Park.

“I’m envious of my players because they’re going to get to experience that first-hand out on the pitch tomorrow, and I just hope that it’s a great game.”

Enrique remembers his visit to Tyneside with Barca well, although not fondly despite scoring on a night when Tino Asprilla’s brilliant hat-trick saw Kenny Dalglish’s men secure one of the club’s most famous victories.

He said: “Obviously it was a tough game, a really tough game. Twenty-six years ago seems a lifetime ago, I guess – I was certainly a lot younger than I am now.

“It is true that I scored – I think it finished 3-2? They had great players, a great atmosphere generated by the crowd. It wasn’t easy then and I don’t suppose it will be easy tomorrow either.”

Defender Lucas Hernandez arrived in the north east of England with a little extra inside knowledge after speaking to his younger brother Theo, who played for AC Milan in their 0-0 draw with the Magpies a fortnight ago.

Asked what he had been told, Hernandez said: “He told me they were very solid in defence. I know Milan created quite a few chances, but they didn’t take them on the night and of course in the Champions League, if you don’t take your chances, obviously you’re not going to win the game.

“He told me more than anything else, they’re solid, compact, they’re good on the counter-attack and some of the players are very quick going forward.”

Newcastle defender Kieran Trippier is relishing the task of ruining Kylian Mbappe’s Champions League trip to Tyneside even if it might upset his son.

Magpies full-back Trippier is likely to be in direct competition with the Paris St Germain superstar when the clubs go head-to-head in Group F at St James’ Park on Wednesday evening.

However, he has revealed his son Jacob is a huge fan of Mbappe – who was seen calling for his gloves as he and his team-mates trained at an autumnal St James’ on Tuesday evening – and that has been a bone of contention in the lead up to an eagerly-anticipated game.


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Trippier said with a smile: “I was having a bit of banter with him last night and he said he wanted to walk out with Mbappe instead of me. I wasn’t really happy with that.

“He’s obsessed with him, always watching his clips on YouTube. I said to him, ‘If you get to walk out with Mbappe, you don’t look at me in the tunnel’.”

Trippier saw how dangerous Mbappe can be at close hand at last year’s World Cup finals, where he watched from the bench as France dumped England out at the quarter-final stage, and has also come up against the supremely-talented 24-year-old on the pitch on more than one occasion in the past.

He said: “I played against him – I think it might have been his debut game for Monaco – when I was at Tottenham, and I played against him for England on my debut – it’s quite a few years ago.

“This is football. These are the games you want as a player, playing in the Champions League, playing against the best players, the best teams. Paris have got unbelievable players in the team.

“Of course we need to recognise that Mbappe is one of the best players in the world, but they’ve got quality all over the pitch and we can’t be too fixed on them.

“We need to play our way because on our day, we can hurt anyone.”

For head coach Eddie Howe, the task is to put together a side which can extend an unbeaten five-game run in all competitions and build upon the start they achieved with a 0-0 draw at AC Milan in their opening fixture.

He will have to do so, however, without key defender Sven Botman and in all likelihood, with midfielder Joelinton and striker Callum Wilson also missing through injury.

The fixture, which rekindles memories of a famous 3-2 victory over Barcelona in the same competition in 1997, is a measure of the progress Newcastle have made in the two years since Amanda Staveley’s consortium launched its successful takeover and Howe, who arrived a few weeks later, admits the speed of progress has taken everyone by surprise.

He said: “Things move really quickly in football. I haven’t been here the whole two years, but my part of it has absolutely flown by.

“Initially, nothing like this was in our thoughts, the speed at which it’s happened. The only thing in our thoughts was staying in the Premier League initially.

“But the swing of momentum has shifted so powerfully and quickly in a positive direction for us. My only thought is to keep that momentum for as long as we can.”

A positive result against PSG would provide further evidence of the strides which have been taken, and Trippier insists victory, rather than football tourism, is his only focus.

Asked if he would be chasing Mbappe’s shirt after the final whistle, he said: “That has not crossed my mind. My thought process is to win.”

Alexander Isak fired Newcastle into the Carabao Cup fourth round at the expense of Manchester City.

The Sweden international struck eight minutes after the break to seal a 1-0 victory for the Magpies – their first over City in any competition in 11 attempts – in front of a crowd of 51,692 at St James Park.

Their place in the draw was reward for a dogged display by a team featuring 10 changes to the one which started Sunday’s 8-0 Premier League victory Sheffield United, but one which was particularly hard-earned after they were given the run-around before the break by Pep Guardiola’s under-studies.

Guardiola made eight changes, three of them to include Mateo Kovacic, Kalvin Phillips and Jack Grealish, and – while having indicated in advance that the competition was the least of his priorities – saw his side dominate for long periods but ultimately fail to turn the pressure they exerted into goals.

With Phillips and Kovacic controlling the midfield battle, the Magpies were absent as an attacking force for much of the first half.

By contrast the link between Rico Lewis, Oscar Bobb – making his first senior start – and Sergio Gomez down the City right proved profitable repeatedly.

Goalkeeper Nick Pope was called upon for the first time with 18 minutes gone when Bobb turned smartly on Phillips’ ball to feet and raced towards goal before feeding Julian Alvarez, whose low shot was blocked by the keeper’s boot.

Paul Dummett had to make a perfectly-timed challenge to deny Grealish a clear run at goal and Sandro Tonali threw himself into the path of Kovacic’s goal-bound strike with Newcastle’s inability to retain the ball causing them all kinds of problems.

Alvarez blazed a 28th-minute shot across goal after running on to Bobb’s clever flick from Kovacic’s square ball as the home side chased shadows, although they might have changed the narrative of the first half four minutes before the break.

Joelinton’s interception on halfway allowed Isak to feed Jacob Murphy, who surged forward before firing across keeper Stefan Ortega, who blocked with a leg.

Eddie Howe made a double change before the restart, replacing Lewis Hall and 17-year-old midfielder Lewis Miley, who was also starting for the first time, with Bruno Guimaraes and Anthony Gordon and the Magpies instantly had a better balance.

Tonali saw a 48th-minute shot blocked after he, Murphy and Tino Livramento had combined down the right and Newcastle were ahead five minutes later.

Murphy cut inside and found Joelinton, who powered his way into the penalty area before smashing the ball across goal from a tight angle to find the unmarked Isak, who finished with ease at the far post.

In an instant, the atmosphere inside St James’ Park changed with the visitors finding themselves under sustained pressure for the first time.

Grealish curled a 75th-minute shot into Pope’s arms as City responded, but their efforts were tepid and Guardiola was booked by referee Chris Kavanagh as he vented his frustration on the sideline.

His mood did not improve as City’s weak efforts to redeem themselves came to nothing despite Phil Foden’s introduction.

Exeter manager Gary Caldwell was a happy man after his side reached the third round of the League Cup for the first time since 1989 by beating Stevenage on penalties at St James Park.

After Alex Hartridge, for City, and Jordan Roberts had traded strikes, it was left to Pierce Sweeney to score the decisive spot-kick after Viljami Sinisalo had saved from Dan Butler in the shoot-out.

“It’s fantastic, a great effort from the team again,” Caldwell said. “It was a really difficult game and both teams treated the game with respect with the teams that were picked and we got tested right to the limit and it had to go to penalties.

“I thought we remained extremely calm and our penalties were fantastic and Vil (Sinisalo) was fantastic in that situation.

“I thought we were really good in the second half and deserved to win the game, but we couldn’t get the second goal, which I think would have killed the game off, and you always run that risk with the way that Stevenage play. We didn’t defend one cross and we paid the price, it went to the wire, but thankfully we got through.

“It’s the first time in 34 years that we’ve won through and that’s a fantastic achievement for this team – a new team that’s only recently formed. The quick progress they are making shows the potential that they have.”

Stevenage boss Steve Evans said: “It’s obviously disappointing to lose, especially on penalties. We made six changes today due to the injuries we had, but I can’t fault the players for the effort and performance they put in.

“Exeter are a good team and Gary is a good bloke. We didn’t really get going in the first half, but I thought we were excellent after the break and the game could have gone either way. Unfortunately, penalties are a lottery and it didn’t go our way tonight.”

Exeter made it through to the third round of the League Cup for the first time since 1989, but they needed penalties after a 1-1 draw with Stevenage at St James Park.

Exeter made a fine start to the game with a goal in the fifth minute. Alex Hartridge saw his initial header saved from a corner, but he reacted quickly to volley past Krisztian Hegyi.

In a half of few chances, Exeter’s Pierce Sweeney saw his header easily saved by Hegyi, while it took until the 40th minute for Stevenage to threaten, but Elliott List’s fierce shot was saved by Viljami Sinisalo in the Exeter goal.

The home side’s domination continued after the break, but they were unable to kill the game off. Sweeney, Hartridge and Jack Aitchison all went close before Aitchison was forced off after a nasty collision with an advertising hoarding.

Out of nothing, Stevenage drew level when Jordan Roberts headed in a Harry Anderson cross in the 69th minute. That sent the match into a penalty shoot-out with neither side able to find a winning goal.

The stage was set for Sinisalo to save from Dan Butler, and Sweeney to send Exeter through by scoring the fifth of their five spot-kicks.

Exeter manager Gary Caldwell could not have been prouder of his team as they bagged a dramatic late winner to beat Reading 2-1 at St James Park.

Despite their first-half dominance, Exeter went in level after Will Aimson’s 34th-minute header was cancelled out in stoppage time through Harry Knibbs’ strike.

The Royals shaded the second half but it was Exeter that won it when Reece Cole struck a sublime 93rd-minute effort to take City up to second place in the League One table.

“It was a sensational performance from start to finish,” Caldwell said. “The first half was outstanding and was the best 45 minutes of football since I’ve been at the club.

“We were totally dominant against a team that was in the Championship last season and had won their last two games; we created numerous chances and the only disappointment was not scoring more goals.

“It was an even bigger disappointment to concede a really poor goal just before half-time but all credit to the players.

“I just said to them ‘you can’t dominate a game against teams like this for 90 minutes, you have to show different parts of your character and your quality as a team’ and we had to do that second half.

“We lost a bit of control and had to defend, but we still created chances and it was an absolutely fantastic goal in terms of the quality of strike from someone I have known a long time and has had really difficult moments in football.

“He (Cole) was playing for Hayes & Yeading last year – I don’t know how many leagues below us that is – but he’s a quality player for us and it was great to see him score like that in front of the Big Bank.”

Reading boss Ruben Selles felt his side only performed in the second half.

“We had a couple of chances to go in front in the second half, but we didn’t take them and then a mistake that shouldn’t have happened from a throw-in led to us conceding a goal from the edge of the box,” he said.

“So the first part of the game and small mistakes in the second half kept us away from getting something today.

“We could have got something but we didn’t put the ball in the net and the opposition did.

“We showed in the second half the team that we want to be. We showed we are a team that wants to play at a high intensity, high tempo, to be make counter press under pressure situations.  We weren’t like that in the first half.

“I think we did enough for a point. But we didn’t score a goal and the opposition scored. We need to learn to manage those situations better. I am pretty sure we will be able to get some victories in the next set of games.”

Exeter manager Gary Caldwell could not fault the effort of his players as they held much-fancied Blackpool to a goalless draw at St James Park.

The Tangerines are tipped by many to make an immediate return to the Championship after relegation last season, but they were second best against a spirited and largely youthful Exeter side.

In a game of few clear-cut chances, Exeter could have gone in front on the stroke of half-time, but Jack Aitchison took too long to get his shot away when through on goal, while Blackpool could have won it in stoppage time, but Vil Sinisalo made a brilliant stop to deny Matty Virtue.

“I thought the players were outstanding with their energy, their quality and the way they kept going against a team that was in the Championship last season,” Caldwell said. “I thought we looked like the team that tried to win the game.

“We gave them a huge opportunity that we have to be better at, as it came from our throw-in, but they came and showed us a lot of respect and but for a little bit of quality, or the ball bouncing in the right place in the final third, I thought it was a game where we did enough to win.

“I don’t think there was much lacking today, we had 11 shots at their goal and it wasn’t like we were toothless or didn’t create chances.

“We created one great chance from the way that we pressed late in the first half, but every other chance was probably a half chance, or moment in the final third where we have to understand the profile of each player and the relationship between the players, how each player differs and wants to receive the ball.

“I think that part of our game, our understanding, still needs to come, but I can’t fault the players for what they gave me today.”

Blackpool boss Neil Critchley felt the result was about right.

Critchley said: “I am not sure we deserved to win the game but I don’t think we deserved to lose it either.

“We are coming to Exeter’s first game and you can see the belief because of the start they have had and they are playing full of confidence.

“You could see that we were a big flat and a bit leggy. Both teams gave everything, it was a good, honest performance from both teams.

“We weren’t at our best but we defended the goal brilliantly well. We gave away one chance and we nearly nicked it at the end which would have been the perfect away performance. But it is another clean sheet which is a positive.

“We stressed at half-time we would get chances on the break and it didn’t quite happen until right at the death but we defended the goal brilliantly well. A lot of teams would have got beaten today by Exeter.”

Exeter and Blackpool had to settle for a point each in a drab goalless draw with Blackpool at St James Park.

It was a game where defences were very much on top and chances were sparse with neither side really doing enough to take all three points.

Exeter started well with Jack Aitchison’s shot deflecting narrowly wide and summer signing Aitchison should have scored on the stroke of half-time, but fluffed his lines when through on goal and Ollie Norburn got back to make the block.

Blackpool stepped things up at the start of the second half and went close through Shayne Lavery, but his header was punched clear by Vil Sinisalo.

Exeter went on to dominate the rest of the game and had plenty of possession, but Blackpool’s defence held firm.

Substitute James Scott fired high and wide for the home side, but it was Blackpool that should have won the game early in stoppage time when Matty Virtue was played in on goal, but he was denied by a brilliant stop by Sinisalo.

Exeter progressed to the second round of the Carabao Cup with a 2-1 come-from-behind win over Sky Bet League Two club Crawley at St James Park.

Exeter started well, but when they went down to 10 men Crawley took the lead in the 15th minute.

Pierce Sweeney had already walked down the tunnel injured when the away side won a corner, but despite the Grecians desperately trying to make a substitution, referee Christopher Pollard allowed play to continue.

The corner was delivered to the back post and headed back across goal, where Klaidi Lolos nodded in from close range.

Exeter responded well – and went on to dominate the game – with Cheick Diabate and Zak Jules both going close from well-flighted Reece Cole corners, while James Scott smashed an effort against the top of the crossbar.

After incessant pressure, Exeter finally pulled level in the 73rd minute when the outstanding Ryan Trevitt found Sonny Cox and his pull-back found fellow substitute Kyle Taylor, who curled a fine shot into the bottom corner.

Scott had a goal ruled out for Exeter, but he was celebrating in the 84th minute when he got on the end of a tremendous cross from Trevitt to head past Ashby-Hammond and send the Grecians through.

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