With Stephen Hindmarch somewhat surprisingly passed fit after suffering an ankle injury in a league defeat at Macclesfield at the weekend it was a full-strength United side that took to the field at Brunton Park this evening. The Shrimpers meanwhile, after winning at home in four consecutive rounds, hoping to be victorious on the road for the first time in the competition.
Carlisle showed their attacking prowess as early as the second minute though when Gary Madine's through ball down the left-hand channel found Andy Cook running off the shoulder of Southend defender David Obaze, Cook unable to find the target however as he fired a left-footed shot into the Shrimpers side-netting at the near-post from 15 yards out.
In the fifth minute Obaze had a rush of blood to the head, which if it came from his feet will have taken about an hour to reach the top of his two-metre frame. The centre-half, who had an absolute shocker throughout, losing possession on the left-flank to Cook who squared a lovely ball for his strike partner Madine 12 yards out. Madine meeting the cross with his right instep first time and showing great accuracy to slide the ball low into the far corner of the Shrimpers net.
Three minutes later and Bambi on Ice was at it again as this time he seemed to blatantly haul back Cook as the United man tried to charge on into the left-hand side of the Southend box. Like most of his bizarre refeering decisions on the night though Rob Merchant from Staffordshire waved play on as the majority of the 603 crowd present bayed for blood.
The 17th minute saw Southend's first real effort on goal when Luke Thurlbourne tried a speculative right-footed lob from 35 yards out on the right which flew well over the angle of Alex Mitchell's far-post and bar with the wind behind it. Eight minutes later Stuart O'Keefe trying his luck on his weaker left foot, his 15-yard effort from the right-hand channel was poor though and an easy one for Mitchell to dive on.
Jamie Forshaw was another player for the visitors getting a shot in on Carlisle's goal with his weaker foot in the 32nd minute, his left-footed drive from the same distance going the same way as O'Keefe's. Forshaw then trying again three minutes later only this time to send a 30-yarder with his left foot well over Mitchell's crossbar.
Our man Obaze was up to his old tricks after 37 minutes when Cook skipped past him on the right-hand by line, Obaze hauling him back by his shirt, the foul even persuading the referee to give the Blues a rare free-kick. Connor Tinnion swung the ball in with his trusty left foot but, presumbably in shock at giving Carlisle a decision, Rob Merchant evened up things up with a pretty non-existant foul by the Cumbrians in the penalty area for pushing.
Madine's eight-yard header from a Tinnion corner in was hacked away from danger by a Southend defender in the 41st minute then two minutes later Jonny Blake was booked for kicking the ball away after the award of a Shrimpers free-kick. Jonathan Herd humped the ball to the Carlisle back-post from 40 yards away, with Obaze then sending a ten-yard header over Mitchell and into the United net but the flag had already gone up for offside as soon as the set-piece was punted forward.
That was the last chance for either side in the first-half and the opening opportunity in the second period came the way of Carlisle six minutes in after some excellent closing down on the left-hand by-line by Wood. The United youngster winning the ball strongly before rolling possession into the path of Cook 20 yards out. Cook trying a right-footed curler low to the far bottom corner which was well parried away by diving Southend goalkeeper Nathan McDonald.
Forshaw was once more looking to find an equaliser for the visitors sixty seconds later but again his left-footed 20-yarder was straight at Mitchell. In the 54th minute Thurlbourne was booked for a cynical trip on Hindmarch as the United man looked to break away. Matthew Brown launched the 65-yard free-kick over the top of Shrimpers right-back Daniel Harvey for Matt Duffy, the Carlisle left-back hitting a half-volley from 15 yards out straight at McDonald as the ball dropped down onto the top of his left boot.
Brown's foul on Forshaw 40 yards out in the left-hand channel saw the Shrimpers back in with a chance on 58 minutes. Herd sent a lovely left-footed cross into the United back-post that hung on the wind and Shrimpers skipper Thomas Hopkins really should have done better as he could only down weakly into the arms of a grateful Mitchell from just six yards out.
"Shit!! Did you see that?! He must have a foot like a traction engine!!" said Alan Partridge once, and that was the case tonight as Wood doubled the Carlisle lead in the 64th minute. The United midfielder, after receiving possession from Duffy, looking up before firing an unstoppable 30-yard drive with his right foot that flew like an arrow into the far top corner of McDonald's net.
Wood took his shirt off, I haven't dared do that in public since I was his age either, and charged off into the distance whirling it above his head in front of the empty Waterworks End. Referee Merchant showing all his common sense in such a situation as he booked Wood for over-celebrating. Shrimpers boss Ricky Duncan choosing the break in play to make the first substitution of the game as he brought on Tashan Adeyinka in place of O'Keefe.
Seconds after the kick-off McDonald was taking a goal-kick for the visitors, although it wasn't the best as it went as far up against the strong wind as it did forwards. Madine holding the ball up with his back to goal before trying a right-footed half-volley on the turn from 18 yards out which went straight along the ground into the gloves of McDonald.
The 69th minute saw a bit of entertainment as Rhys Henry chucked a sulk with the award of a free-kick to Carlisle, the Shrimpers forward going into the referee's notebook after hoofing the ball at Cook as he lay on the ground. That incident coming after Herd, who put in an excellent delivery with his left foot all night, had caused some real pressure at the back for Carlisle with a couple of chipped corners into the United penalty area.
Duffy's free-kick up from the dead-ball just inside the Carlisle half on the left was beautifully judged as it drifted across the pitch and over the head of Harvey to Hindmarch 15 yards out in the right-hand channel. Hindmarch, who never showed any signs of his troublesome ankle in his performance, slamming a right-footed half-volley into McDonald's side-netting at his near-post.
We haven't heard from "the worst centre half I've ever seen at this level"TM for a while but he was back in the action in the 78th minute when he headed Herd's corner wide of Mitchell's far-post from 12 yards out. Southend were beginning to get desperate now as they looked for two goals in the last nine minutes and Henry was being optmistic when his 30-yard right-footed shot only proved to be a cosy save for Mitchell.
United youth team boss Eric Kinder making his first change of personnel after 82 minutes when he swapped Tinnion on the left for Ged Dalton. Herd, who was the best player for the visitors on the night, tried to do all the work himself two minutes left when he made a good run and cut inside Brown. The ball was once more on his weaker right foot though and his 18-yard drive was weak and straight at Mitchell.
Despite Southend needing two late goals in the closing stages to force extra-time it was Carlisle who had a lot of possession late on. Infact, in the 89th minute, Dalton looking to break away after United had cleared a corner, was brought down by midfielder Peggy Lokando. The Shrimpers fouling machine remarkably having made it this long without seeing the yellow card with which he was finally brandished by referee Merchant.
The last real action of the game as United ran the clock down in the Waterworks/Paddock corner with a couple of free-kicks and corners had come a few moments earlier when Blake was replaced in the Cumbrians engine room by John Seaton. The final whistle, after a somewhat hefty four minutes of injury time, signalling huge celebrations from Carlisle players and spectators alike.
You can tell how good a night it has been when neither of your centre-halves get a mention in the match report, for me though Tom Aldred and Dan Wordsworth were the joint United man-of-the-matches as they threw themselves into the way of everything this evening to ensure success for the Cumbrians. If they thought tonight was difficult however then just wait for Aston Villa, for know though let's take time to reflect on what has been another wonderful evening for the Carlisle United youth team, well done to one and all.
United line-up :
Alex Mitchell, Matthew Brown, Matt Duffy, Dan Wordsworth (c), Tom Aldred, Jonny Blake (John Seaton 90), Stephen Hindmarch, Matthew Wood, Gary Madine, Andy Cook, Connor Tinnion (Ged Dalton 82).
Unused substitutes :
John Jamieson (GK), Simon Lakeland and Michael Dowson.
Southend line-up :
Nathan McDonald, Daniel Harvey, Jonathan Herd, Luke Thurlbourne, Thomas Hopkins (c), David Obaze, Stuart O'Keefe (Tashan Adeyinka 66), Peggy Lokando, James Lindie, Rhys Henry, Jamie Forshaw.
Unused substitutes :
Richard Curtis (GK), Richard Priest, Ronnie Jones and Davis Abbey.
Referee - Rob Merchant (Stockton Brook, Staffordshire).
Attendance - 603.
Youth Team Results : Click here
Youth Team Table : Click here
Youth Team Reports : Click here
Youth Team Squad : Click here