How the Bookies See it:
- Match Winner: Exeter 21/20, Carlisle 11/4, Draw 27/10 - Bet365
- First Goalscorer: Ollie Watkins (EXE) 5/1, Reuben Reid (EXE) 5/1, David Wheeler (EXE) 5/1 - Boylesports
- To Qualify: Exeter 8/13, Carlisle 5/4 - Bet365
What Happened in the First Leg?
Carlisle fought back to rescue a 3-3 draw in a thrilling match on Sunday, as Exeter surrendered a commanding position. Joel Grant’s header for the visitors was cancelled out by a Jordan Moore-Taylor own goal, before Ryan Harley restored Exeter’s lead and David Wheeler made it 3-1.
John O’Sullivan reduced Carlisle’s arrears and substitute Shaun Miller grabbed the equaliser just a couple of minutes later to set up the second leg perfectly. Exeter boss Paul Tisdale was left to bemoan some bad luck after having two goals disallowed and hitting the post, but his opposite number Keith Curle felt Carlisle finished strongly and could even have won.
Exeter will feel aggrieved to be level after dominating the first 90 minutes of the semi-final, but now have home advantage for the second leg and if they can reproduce the same sort of free-flowing performance they will be hard to stop. Only Doncaster Rovers and Portsmouth scored more goals than Exeter during the League Two season and the likes of David Wheeler, Ollie Watkins and Reuben Reid are all in fine form.
However, the fact that Exeter are the favourites to make it through to a final against either Blackpool or Luton Town will deter punters who are looking for a good price. Exeter have still not beaten any of their play-off rivals this season and they also have a poor home record, losing ten league games out of 23 at St James Park. Carlisle won 3-2 at Exeter on the final day of the season and will expect to play much better on Thursday after escaping from the first leg with a draw. Danny Grainger scored twice from the penalty spot in the recent league fixture and can be backed at 5/1 with Betfred to score anytime.
There have been 16 goals in three matches between the teams this season, so odds of 13/8 on over 3.5 goals being scored at St James Park will appeal to some punters. However, with a place at Wembley on the line it could just be a tighter affair than the previous encounters and a smarter wager may be on underdogs Carlisle to keep up their good record against Exeter this season and make it through to Wembley.
- Sports.net’s top tip: Carlisle to qualify - 6/4 at Paddy Power
*Please note, odds may fluctuate.