League Two: Exeter get cup reprieve after “sixth sub” controversy

Carlisle United’s next league opponents Exeter have received a reprieve in the FA Cup despite fielding one substitute too many. The Grecians used a sixth sub in Tuesday’s first round replay win over Bradford City. There were fears the Devon club could be thrown out of the competition after the apparent rule breach.

But the Professional Game Board have now ordered the game to be played again. Exeter won Tuesday’s game 3-0 after extra-time, but that result will now be truck from the record – and Bradford will now return to St James’ Park later this month. The controversy, first reported by the Telegraph & Argus, arose when Josh Key came on for Sam Nombe at the start of extra-time.

Competition rules state that clubs “may use five…substitute players at any time in a match (including during any period of extra-time).” Clubs are permitted a further opportunity to make a sub during extra-time – but only if they have not already made five changes. A statement was issued via the FA Cup’s social media accounts today.

It said: “An extraordinary incident report was submitted by the match referee which stated that Exeter City had used a sixth substitute during their Emirates FA Cup First Round Proper Replay against Bradford City on Tuesday 16 November 2021. “The FA conducted an investigation and referred all of its information to the Professional Game Board [PGB] in accordance with the rules of the competition. “After considering all of its options, and taking into account all of the relevant factors, the PGB agreed that the result of the match should not stand.

“The PGB deemed that the most appropriate action would be for the match to be replayed in its entirety and has ordered for this to take place at Exeter City’s St James Park on Tuesday 30 November at 19:45.”

Exeter boss Matt Taylor today said he and the club had “made a mistake” with the substitution and said they accepted the decision to replay the game.

Exeter host Carlisle in League Two this Saturday.