As the sides lined up for the kick-off first-year professionals Grant Carson, Darren Campion, Dan Kirkup and Adam Bradley were the only non-youth teamers involved in the United matchday sixteen. In such gruesome weather it was no great surprise that the opening chance of the game didn't come until the 13th minute, that being a low right-footed 25-yarder from Stephen Hindmarch that went straight into the gloves of grateful Cleator keeper Liddle.
Moments later though and Carlisle took the lead when Connor Tinnion made hay down the left before crossing for Gary Madine, the Blues frontman registering his 23rd goal of the season from ten yards out with a header back across goal and into the net on the bounce. Tinnion again did well after 18 minutes when he ran in strongly from the left only to fire a weak 15-yard left-footed shot into the arms of Liddle at his near-post.
Two minutes on and with Carlisle well on top Andy Cook made a bustling run in from the right, with his left-footed drive from 18 yards out flashing across goal and inches wide of the Celtic far-post. In the 24th minute Campion, Madine and Hindmarch all combined well to set Matthew Wood up for a shooting opportunity. Wood, 22 yards out on the right, pulling his effort wide of the near-post with his right boot.
Cleator saw their first goal attempt arrive with 26 minutes on the clock when an 18-yard right-footed drive from Colin Nichol went narrowly wide of Carson's far-post. Sixty seconds later Gary George was booked for a foul on United skipper Shaun Vipond 25 yards from the Celtic goal. Kirkup thumped the free-kick right-footed into the defensive wall, the Blues centre-half then heading straight at Liddle from ten yards out as he got on the end of a cross in from the right by Hindmarch, who had picked up the initial rebound.
With 29 minutes gone Vipond's 25-yard right-footer was deflected wide. Wood then sticking the corner in which saw Hindmarch flick on at the near-post and Cook loop a header over the top from eight yards out at the back-stick. Five minutes later Cook pushed a lovely reverse ball through the middle for Madine to run onto down the left-hand channel. Liddle was equal to the challenge though as he made an excellent one-handed save from Madine's 15-yard left-footed effort.
Wood was brought down 22 yards out in the right-hand channel by Craig Scott in the 36th minute, Madine then seeing his right-footed curler from the dead-ball well headed away by a backtracking Ben Bateson. Shortly afterwards Johnston get a rare effort in on the United goal for the visitors, his powerful right-footed shot from distance being well collected by Carson on the bounce though.
Five minutes before the break Johnston knocked a lovely ball over the top of a static Carlisle back-line for Nichol to run onto. Nichol charging on into the United box only for Kirkup to make a fantastic block tackle on the Celtic man's 15-yard left footed effort. The resultant corner from left-back Jamie Devine, who consistently put in a good delivery from set-pieces, seeing a bout of pinball before Dan Wordsworth cleared the Blues lines.
Sixty seconds later Madine, from a Tinnion pass, had his 18-yard right-footed shot deflected over the top, before he then headed the corner in from Wood straight at Liddle from eight yards out. The last action of the half, following a Matthew Brown foul on George right on the very left angle of the Carlisle box, seeing the free-kick and a couple of resultant corners worked away by the United defence before the whistle came.
Cleator had the strong wind at their backs in the second period but Hindmarch was the first player to get a shot in for Carlisle with 49 minutes gone when his right-footed effort from 22 yards out was easily held by Liddle. Two minutes later Hindmarch was the provider as he played in Madine down the right-hand channel, the United man then choosing to put a low cross in from there which was hacked away from danger by Gareth McArron.
A second goal had been threatening for the Blues for a while now and it came in the 57th minute when Campion, making a run up from his left-back spot, smashed a left-footed drive across goal and into the net off the inside of the far-post from fully 25 yards out. A great strike but Liddle will certainly be thinking he could have done better as he ended up more or less watching the ball zoom past him.
After 59 minutes Madine hit a right-footer well over the top from 22 yards out and into the empty Warwick Road End, the break in play seeing Celtic boss Neil Grears replace Johnston with Caolan McCool in the Cleator engine room. It was still all Carlisle though and two minutes later Madine, perhaps a little selfishly, sent a 22-yard left-footed drive inches over Liddle's crossbar.
Sixty seconds later Wordsworth flicked an eight-yard header wide of the far-post from an inswinging left-footed Tinnion corner, then in the 64th minute a low Brown cross in from the right saw an under pressure Cook toe-poke a right-footed effort narrowly wide of the Cleator near-post with Liddle well beaten.
Blues boss Eric Kinder made his first change of the night with 71 minutes gone as Jonny Blake replaced Cook, the shuffle around seeing Hindmarch go upfront and Blake slot in to the right-hand side of the midfield. Celtic also switching personnel at the same time when Glyn Edwards was replaced by Michael Lewis in the forward line, Lewis having actually played one game on trial for the United youth team himself earlier in the season.
In the 73rd minute Campion put a good cross in from the left, but Madine stretching for it at the back-post could only send his eight-yard header wide. Carlisle were all over their visitors now as full-time training began to tell and just sixty seconds later Tinnion's left-footed volley from close-range at the back-post slashed inches wide of the near-post after Brown had stuck in another good deep cross from the right-hand side.
Campion was playing some good balls forward down the left and after 75 minutes his searching pass down his channel found the run of Hindmarch. The United striker trying a delicate right-footed chip from 18 yards out only for the ball to drift just past the far-post. Nichol tried to grab a chance of Cleator glory two minutes later but his 22 yard left-footed drive went well wide of the target.
Carlisle made it 3-0 with ten minutes to go in the tie when Tinnion made a tricky run in from the left past two defenders before an angled shot with the inside of his left boot flew beyond the reach of Liddle and into the far corner of the Celtic net from 15 yards out. A great individual goal from the United left-winger who was in competition for the full 90 minutes with Campion for the man of the match award.
Sixty seconds later Cumbrians manager Eric Kinder made his second and final change of the game when John Seaton replaced Brown, Seaton going straight into his usual right-hand side of midfield role while Blake dropped into the vacant right-back spot. Seaton was straight into proceedings as well as his low cross, from a Vipond pass to him, found Madine lurking six yards out at the back-post, only for Liddle to again do well as he raced from his line to block away Madine's right-footed shot with his legs.
Campion tried his luck in the 89th minute as he looked to get on the scoresheet with a 22-yard left-footed half-volley that fairly whistled over the angle of near-post and bar. The last chance of the game though came the way of Celtic after Vipond had conceded possession to Gareth Evans in the United half, Evans trundling on up the pitch before seeing his 18-yard right-footed effort deflect away off the legs of Wordsworth.
So, an easy victory in the end for a particularly young Blues side, with the Carlisle coaching staff no doubt happy, with all the recent postponements, to get the match out of the way and get through to the semi-finals with no injuries. Who knows who we'll get drawn against in the last four but at least the prospect of a horror journey to Windscale is now out of the equation after they lost 3-0 at home to the Harraby Catholic Club last week.
United line-up :
Grant Carson, Matthew Brown (John Seaton 84), Darren Campion, Dan Wordsworth, Dan Kirkup, Matthew Wood, Shaun Vipond (c), Stephen Hindmarch, Andy Cook (Jonny Blake 71), Gary Madine, Connor Tinnion.
Unused substitutes :
Adam Bradley (GK), Tom Aldred and Matt Duffy.
Cleator Moor Celtic line-up :
D Liddle, Gareth McArron, Jamie Devine, Ben Bateson, Craig Scott, Gary George, Craig Nichol, B Johnston (Caolan McCool 59), Glyn Edwards (Michael Lewis 71), Gareth Evans, Leigh Dunn.
Unused substitute :
Cumberland Cup Quarter-Final Fixtures
Carlisle United 3-0 Cleator Moor Celtic (25/2)
Netherhall v Workington Reds
Wetheriggs United v Penrith Town (1/3)
Windscale 0-3 Harraby Catholic Club (20/2)
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