Simon Hackney and Glenn Murray played the full 120 minutes after coming off the bench in the Northampton game and physiotherapist Neil Dalton was also drafted into the line-up. Due to the shortage of bodies the Carlisle bench was looking rather empty with only reserve team coach Billy Barr and young striker Pete Ferris, returning to action after four and a half months out with a knee injury, waiting to come on.
It was a quiet opening start to the game on an afternoon where the wind seemed to get stronger and the temperature colder with every second that went by, during extra-time it was utterly freezing to be honest. The players also took a while to adjust to a pitch at Newton Rigg that was quite small although pretty similar to the surface of the Neil Centre, the bounce of the ball often being difficult to judge.
Brendan McGill was the first man to have any real chance in the game in the 15th minute but his right-footed effort from the edge of the box went straight at the, diminutive for a keeper, Andrew Wills in the City goal. Five minutes later it was Hackney who was testing the handling of Wills on a cold day as he cut in from the right on his favoured left foot, but the young glovesman was up to the task as he pushed the 20-yard effort around his post for a United corner.
After 24 minutes it was Glenn Murray who went close for United. A long goal-kick by Anthony Williams found it’s way to the Maryport-born striker who played a quick one-two with McGill before firing a powerful right-footed drive inches past the post and into the City side-netting. Shortly afterwards Murray was again in the thick of the action as he flicked a Dillon ball up to him over the head of City centre-half Nigel Nichol but he couldn’t find the finish as he fired his left-footed half-volley inches over from 20 yards out.
United did make their pressure tell in the 37th minute though when they took the lead through McGill. Mark Rivers in the right-hand corner of the pitch laid the ball back to Dillon in the middle of the City ‘D’ who in turn, after miscontrolling the pass, played it into McGill who was running into the box down the left-hand channel. Deciding not to take a touch the Dubliner hit the ball first-time and sent a crisp finish from 12 yards with his left-foot under Wills and into the City net.
It didn’t take the home side long to make their mark on the game and grab an equaliser though when Paul Pattison scored with an excellent individual effort just two minutes later. A poor Andrews headed clearance fell to the City midfielder in a central area 20 yards out, and after taking the ball on his chest, Pattison sent a lovely looping volley over Williams and into the far top corner of the United net, although the Welshman did get his fingertips to it.
The senior team of the two did have the last chance of the half in an effort to regain their short-lived lead in the 44th minute. Hackney’s corner from the right was headed back to the edge of the box by Simon Grand and Dalton was on-hand to send a bobbly right-foot shot just wide of the near-post with Wills scrambling across his goal.
Five minutes after the interval another long Williams goal-kick on the small pitch found Glenn Murray on the edge of the area. Murray tried a right-foot curler but it was always heading wide of the City far-post. Two minutes later robust City centre-half Gary Milne gave away a free-kick for a foul on Murray inches outside the box in the left-hand corner. Hackney swung the set-piece in, Milne cleared the ball out to the front edge of his own area and Dalton forced Wills into a neat save low at his near-post with a left-footed drive as United had the most of the play again.
After 58 minutes Hackney had a powerful shot deflected away for a corner by right-back Tom Foster and shortly afterwards Rivers sent a weak shot from the right-angle of the City box straight at Wills as United built up a good spell of pressure without actually looking like scoring. The tiring Dalton was the next United man up to the plate in the 62nd minute when he picked the ball up after a great run down the left-wing by Hackney. Dalton was off-balance though and could only slice his 20-yard left-footer wide of Wills’ near-post.
It wasn’t all the designated visitors though and two minutes later impressive left-winger Scott Priest was unlucky as City counter-attacked. Turning United centre-half Dan Kirkup in the box, after a good ball into him from City left-back Craig Wilson, Priest hit a fierce shot in with his left-foot which flashed across the face of goal and out for a United goal-kick.
Both sides made a change in the 70th minute as Graham Lupton replaced Wilson for City and Pete Ferris made his long-awaited comeback for United as he came on for Dillon. In the 75th minute Milne, after a headed part-clearance from Kirkup, sent a curling volley inches wide of Williams’ goal from the right-angle of the box as City started to come back into the game once more. That was the signal for the United coaching staff to make another change as reserves team coach Billy Barr replaced club physiotherapist Dalton.
With ten minutes to go in a match where United really didn’t want extra-time Milne gave away yet another free-kick for a foul on Glenn Murray. Barr hit the free-kick up from 40 yards out, Milne cleared again but only straight to Rivers who took a quick touch before firing a right-foot volley wide of the City post from 20 yards out. The last chance of the 90 minutes, as the game seemed to drift inevitably to another 30 minutes, came to McGill. The diminutive Irishman, playing in an unfamiliar central midfield role, could only slice his 18-yard half-volley well wide of the City near-post with his left-foot though.
Two minutes into extra-time Pattison showed his prowess at shooting from distance again when he tried a dipping half-volley from beyond the edge of the United box. This time however Williams got a stronger hand to the ball and was able to make a great save as he palmed it away from his top corner, Andrews being forced to make a rushed hack clear near the line under pressure from the pacey Priest.
City were starting to boss the game a little now as United began to tire. In the 97th minute Priest knocked a clever back-heel into Kyle Armstrong but the City striker rushed his shot from 22 yards out and sent it slicing wide of Williams’ far-post. Seven minutes later, during another quiet spell in the match, the home side made another substitution as eventual matchwinner Barry Pilkins came on to replace the fading Armstong.
In the first attack of the second period of extra-time Pilkins gave City the lead after only being on the pitch for two minutes. Midfielder Carl Armstrong sent a free-kick up from his own half which reached a good way into the United box on the gusting and freezing cold wind. Pilkins had made a good run in to the area to get on the end of the ball, albeit unmarked, and sent a clever finish with the inside of his right boot low past Williams and into the bottom corner of the United net from eight yards out.
Sixty seconds later Milne was booked for dissent as he contested yet another foul and the physical City centre-half was lucky really to escape a yellow card for persistent infringement throughout the game. Shortly afterwards Priest had United right-back Martin Graham’s head spinning as he turned him inside and out about three times before eventually forcing Williams to make a good save as he fired across the Welshman from 12 yards out in the left-hand channel.
After 110 minutes in the game Foster sent a cross in from the right to the United penalty spot area. Pattison got up well to get a good flicked header on the ball and Williams had to be on the move quickly to make a great one-handed save at his far-post as City seemed to be making a few chances with United pouring bodies forward in a vain search for an equaliser.
United huffed and puffed a lot in the closing stages as Kirkup and Grand both ventured forward to try and add some height to the front-line but some resolute defending by the City players restricted United to little more than crosses into the box. The only good chance came five minutes from the end of the tie when Grand fed Rivers and the ex-Crewe man back-heeled the ball into the feet of Glenn Murray. The one-time Barrow player tried a curler with his right-foot from the edge of the City box but it never troubled Wills as it flew straight into the chest of the young keeper.
The final whistle soon came after a small amount of added time with players and fans alike rushing away from the scene to find some warmth on a bitterly cold day. The United coaching staff will no doubt be disappointed to be knocked out of a competition but there are far bigger fish to fry and the lack of two more games being added to an already busy fixture fist isn’t too bad a thing to worry about.
United line-up :
Anthony Williams, Martin Graham, Lee Andrews, Dan Kirkup, Simon Grand, Brendan McGill, Simon Hackney, Dan Dillon (Pete Ferris 70), Glenn Murray, Mark Rivers, Neil Dalton (Billy Barr 76).
City line-up :
Andrew Wills, Craig Wilson (Graham Lupton 70), Tom Foster, Carl Armstrong, Nigel Nichol, Gary Milne, Matthew Lea, Paul Pattison, Kyle Armstrong (Barry Pilkins 104), Joseph Blaylock, Scott Priest.
Unused substitutes :
Wayne Cannon and Graeme Lewis.
Updated Reserve Team Results : Click here