The Cumbrians started brightly kicking off towards the empty Waterworks end and in the second minute a Jonny Blake corner was cleared straight to the foot of Matthew Brown, right-back Brown seeing his 18-yard drive deflected wide. Blake's resultant flag-kick followed almost exactly the same sequence, this time though Brown's volley on his weaker left foot flew wide of the Stockport near-post.
Five minutes later the Hatters had a spot of good luck followed by a large slice of bad luck when skipper James Vincent's awful 22-yard shot fell right into the path of Martin Smeaton in the United penalty area. Blues keeper Alex Mitchell coming out quickly to block Smeaton's close-range effort with the two players crunching together in the challenge. Dangerous County striker Smeaton staying down and then eventually leaving the field with a serious looking ankle problem to be replaced by Richard Ratcliffe upfront.
Both sides were battling hard for possession in midfield but Carlisle were able to make the breakthrough and take the lead in the 17th minute. Ged Dalton's ball in from the right being flicked on by Gary Madine for Andrew Cook to control on the edge of the County box. Cook running on a yard or two before steadying himself and firing a powerful left-footed drive into the far bottom corner of Hatters keeper Ben Imeson's net.
Two minutes later and the Blues could have scored again when Cook played a neat pass into Wood in the Stockport penalty area. Wood's right-footed effort across goal from 15 yards out being well parried away by Imeson. With 24 minutes on the clock Matt Duffy's cross, as he pushed up from his left-back berth, was headed wide of the County near-post from just inside the penalty area by Madine.
The visitors got their first real shot in anger on the Carlisle goal in the 27th minute when Tim Lawton fired a left-footed shot wide from 25 yards out. United were playing well though and had looked like increasing their lead in the tie, that all changing two minutes later though when centre-half Dan Wordsworth made a badly-timed studs-up lunge on Stockport's Kyle Wilkie. Wordsworth soon seeing a red card from the referee as he trudged from the field after handing his captain's armband to Brown.
So with the Cumbrians now down to ten men they were off the infamous "front foot" and the reshuffle in defence saw Blake drop into right-back from central midfield, Duffy move to centre-half and Brown swap flanks into the left-back spot. County coming forward now and in the 32nd minute a cross in from right-back Jacob Wood was header over the Carlisle crossbar by Ratcliffe from 15 yards out.
Shortly afterwards Madine tried his luck from range for the Blues but his right-footed shot was an easy one for Imeson to handle as he dived forward to the ground with the ball in his hands. After 40 minutes Mitchell's poor clearance from a back-pass went straight to Stockport's Robert Molyneux but he could only fire a long-range effort back wide of Mitchell's goal.
Two minutes later and Cook, who along with Madine worked hard all night upfront to counter the Cumbrians being one man light, bustled in from the left flank only to see his right-footed drive from 22 yards out deflect wide of the County near-post. Dalton swung the corner across with Madine then heading wide of the Hatters back-stick from the middle of the penalty area.
The last chance of the opening period came the way of Stockport when a nice move forward involving Lawton and Ratcliffe eventually saw Mitchell being forced into making an excellent save from Wilkie's 15-yard right-footed drive. The sides going down the tunnel after three minutes of injury time thinking they could both win the game in the second-half with some better play going forward.
There were few clear-cut chances for either team in the tie to be fair but one good opportunity came the way of County almost straight from the half-time whistle. A cross in from the right was headed back by Wilkie to Ratcliffe 12 yards out, Ratcliffe then being desperately unlucky to see his thunderous left-foot volley smash off the underside of the bar, bounce down on the United goal-line and eventually be hacked away from danger by Wood.
Stockport were really coming at the Blues strongly now and in the 49th minute Alex Elliott's pacey right-footed shot from 20 yards out flew inches wide of Mitchell's far-post. Then sixty seconds later as County continued to press for an equaliser Elliott was again in the action as he fired a half-volley over the top with his left foot from 18 yards out after Brown had quickly put pressure on him to shoot.
The Hatters certainly weren't giving the game up though and there was a real spate of pinball in the United box in the 63rd minute with shots being blocked and flying everywhere before Wilkie's right-footed half-volley smashed into Mitchell's side-netting at his near-post from 15 yards out on the angle. County youth team boss Craig Madden making his second change of the night during the break in play when Robert Vincent came on in place of Paul Ennis.
Two minutes later, and seemingly taking their tips from the first team, Carlisle feel asleep at a short corner twice in a row. An initial shot being blocked out behind before United got done again, this time though it was panic over as Lawton's 25-yard drive on his left foot disappeared over everything as the 141 spectators present watched it fly into the dark of the night and the Neil Centre car-park.
Blues manager Eric Kinder making his first substitution of the game from there as he brought on Simon Lakeland for the tiring injury-returnee Wood in the United engine room. Play was getting really bitty now with neither side retaining possession well enough, the only action of note for almost 20 minutes being Robert Vincent seeing yellow for the visitors after a bad foul on Blake and John Seaton replacing Stephen Hindmarch in midfield for Carlisle.
The visitors had a chance to make it a nervous ending for the Cumbrians in the 83rd minute after centre-half Tom Aldred had brought down Wilkie just to the right of the United 'D'. Wilkie then wasting the chance as he blazed the set-piece with his right foot straight into the United wall. Giving that free-kick away was about the only mistake Aldred made on the night though, with Duffy also impressing in the middle of defence after Wordsworth's dismissal.
Two minutes later Blake was still limping a little after being scythed down in the booking incident by Robert Vincent in the 75th minute. He was still working hard down the right however and his useful cross into the Stockport box saw Madine flick a delightful first-time back-heeled touch into the path of Cook. The scorer of United's first goal being unlucky to see his 15-yard left-footed effort expertly saved by the legs of Imeson.
Stockport really weren't looking like pulling one goal back in the latter stages never mind the two they needed to take the tie to extra-time and the last real chance of the match came the way of the Cumbrians in the 88th minute. Lakeland and Dalton working a short corner well before Lakeland's ball in from the right saw Madine head over the top of the County crossbar from ten yards out.
Somehow the referee managed to find just over five minutes of stoppage time from nowhere but the final whistle finally did come in the end on an excellent and hard-working victory for the lads considering they played for 61 minutes with only ten men. Mansfield's 5-0 victory at home to Conference North outfit Alfreton Town last night meaning that the young Blues now travel to Field Mill for a second round tie that will more than likely be contested in a fortnight's time.
United line-up :
Alex Mitchell, Matthew Brown, Matt Duffy, Jonny Blake, Dan Wordsworth (c), Tom Aldred, Ged Dalton, Matthew Wood (Simon Lakeland 65), Gary Madine, Andrew Cook, Stephen Hindmarch (John Seaton 81).
Unused substitutes :
John Jamieson (GK), Connor Tinnion and Michael Dowson.
Stockport line-up :
Ben Imeson, Jacob Wood, Tim Lawton, James Vincent (c), Lee Williams, Joshua Thomspon, Robert Molyneux, Alex Elliott, Martin Smeaton (Richard Ratcliffe 7), Kyle Wilkie, Paul Ennis (Robert Vincent 63).
Unused substitutes :
Matthew Bell (GK), Neil Holmes and Lee Jackson.
Attendance - 141.
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