Leaving at broadly the same ungodly hour as the many free coaches from Dean Court, they were hoping there presence would not be a jinx on the team. With the flight on schedule and a pleasant train journey north the only concern was the crisp frosty air that pervaded the further north we ventured. The Echo were reporting the flying Dutchmen as being in contention, Brett not cup tied and with the local press billing us as the Man Utd of League 1 – what could go possibly wrong!
Arriving at the ground the tie had the air of an evening JP Trophy 1st Round clash with a slimmed down programme, both ends behind the goals closed & just the 4 exiles.
We needn’t have worried however as the Cherries put in a top performance. For over an hour we were on top & dominant, composed throughout and fluid in our passes. Five changes had been made from the week before that seemed unnoticeable as the players gelled from the outset. Pitman was back in the front line and Jalal between the sticks, wingers running wide, it was just like days of old.
A low sun over the home terrace at the end we were attacking made it difficult to see too much of our first half attacks. I am reliably informed that it was Wes Fogden who provided the finish for our opener after Carlisle had appeared to clear a corner to the top of the box where Wes was lurking to finish on the half hour. This was followed 6 minutes later by a Euan O’Kane strike that seemingly put the tie to bed.
Pugh was in his element linking in well with Daniels and providing a torrid time for the Carlisle defence down his flank, so much so both players tasked with picking Pugh up were substituted at half time as Carlisle searched for a way to nullify the threat. Carlisle in parts threatened, particularly down our flanks but did not force Jalal into making any save until deep into the 2nd half.
The 2nd half was pretty much the same for 15mins with wave after wave of attack but no 3rd goal. The home support was quiet but we worried what a goal would do and as the tied turned on the hour, the Cumbrians started to come back into the game. A few nervous glances were exchanged amongst us. Then it came. 10 minutes of pressure paid off as Mark Beck struck when a J-P McGovern free kick evaded Jalal and Beck was on hand to slot home. A second may have followed not long after but Jalal proved his worth with an excellent save.
This didn’t spur the home fans and into the final stages the Chrries fought back and reasserted themselves. Pugh who was excellent throughout popped up at the end to seal our victory. Time still remained for Supa to notch up another appearance as he entered the fray a minute past the 90 and with 2 still to play. Yes he did the touch the ball.
A very worthwhile trip from the rock and hail Eddie our returning hero. I don’t know what he has but to turn around the same bunch of players from the previous management duo into these unbeatables is just marvellous. Here we come Wigan.
Marc Pugh – in a class of his own today.
AFCB: Jalal, Francis, Cook, Elphick, Daniels, Fogden, MacDonald, O'Kane, Pugh, Grabban, Pitman
Subs: James, McDermott, Demouge, Tubbs, McQuoid (for MacDonald, 57 mins), Partington (for Pitman, 82 mins), Fletcher (for Grabban, 90 mins)
Nick Wallinger, Isle Of Man