Carlisle United kept their lingering love affair with the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy alive on Tuesday night when they held their nerve to win through to Saturday morning’s third round draw courtesy of a dramatic penalty shoot-out.
The Cumbrians created the better of the chances during normal time but spot kicks were needed as neither side quite managed to fully turn the screw during their periods of dominance in an entertaining game.
A frantic cup tie pace brought little in the way of early action but a Berrett corner on five minutes left Amoo with half an opening to aim at. He shot on the spin but he couldn’t keep it down and it flew high over the bar.
Midfielder Alex Kenyon found the ball at his feet as the Shrimps mounted a flowing attack but Thirlwell moved from a deep position to make the block. Keeper Mark Gillespie watched cautiously as it spun away to safety.
The Shrimps breached the Carlisle back line with an intricate pass from Wright which gave Mwasile a brief look at the target. He went for a first time shot but it bobbled into the keeper’s hands off the top of his shin.
Both teams went close within seconds of each other midway through the half with Berrett forcing Arestidou into a save with a rasper from 25-yards. The Shrimps broke quickly and Thirlwell was once more the key defender as the slightest touch from his boot proved to be enough to divert a Joe McGee piledriver away from the target.
Sean O’Hanlon was twice in defensive action as the home side peppered the box with crosses in what was a good spell of attacking pressure and a raking crossfield pass from Kenyon found Amond pulling clear. He chested it down and sprinted into the area but his shot, form a very tight angle, was always travelling wide.
United started to get on top and Amoo cut in from the right with the intention of firing low past his marker. The resulting corner fell kindly for Liam Noble as he moved first to pick up the loose ball. He slid a pass back through to Berrett and his cross from the byline found Guy with time on his hands. It was disappointment all round as his header ballooned up into the night sky.
Fleming was next to try his luck as the pace of the game ebbed and flowed but a decent Thirlwell intervention stopped the effort at source. Wright then swung a testing cross towards the back post and McGee was frustrated as he stretched to send a weak header into the crowd behind the goal.
A swirling, dipping free kick from Matt Robson forced a full length diving parry from Arestidou as the visitors piled the pressure on ahead of the break but they were almost caught light at the back when the dangerous Padraig Amond beat the offside trap. He went for an early shot but Thirlwell was there, yet again, to put his body in the way.
The Cumbrians started the second half in determined mood and Amoo ghosted into a gap to control a lobbed pass from Noble on his thigh. An early volley had accuracy but Arestidou moved across to make the save.
United should have taken the lead almost immediately after the restart when Noble fed an inch perfect pass through the back line for Brad Potts to latch onto. Andreas Arestidou raced off his line to narrow the angles and he got his challenge just right as he spread himself to nick the ball from the midfielder’s toes.
The same man was guilty of another glaring miss when a low Amoo cross somehow made its way past a Noble air shot and a miscued clearance from Hughes. He had to stretch and his volley fizzed wide of the upright.
It was all Carlisle and a Berrett free kick from deep took a touch as O’Hanlon challenged in the box. The keeper saw it late but was able to make the catch. Leon McSweeney gave the big stopper more to think about when he tried an instinctive shot from a tight angle but Morecambe grew in confidence as the half went on as Jim Bentley threw target man Kevin Ellison into the fray.
Mwasile was thwarted by a double block as he lurked deep for a dangerous corner and Threlfall kept the clearance alive with a clipped delivery into the box. It needed an acrobatic save from Gillespie as he back tracked to tip Ellison’s glancing header away from just beneath his bar.
Arestidou had to endure so light ribbing from the away fans behind his goal when he struggled to deal with a miscued Symington cross but he was able to brush off the howls of laughter as he crashed into his own post and fell to the floor with the ball in his hands just the right side of the line.
Morecambe had a real chance to clinch the tie when Ellison flicked a high bouncing ball over Townsend late in the day and it left Amond with a clear route to the edge of the box. A powerful shot followed but Gillespie kept his eye on it and beat it away.
Ellison and Noble exchanged tame shots as the clock ticked down and appeals for a penalty were waved as Robson angled his way into the area, and it was left to spot kicks to decide who would progress on the night.
Robson, O’Hanlon, Berrett and Noble held their nerve in front of their own fans and the celebrations were sparked as Ryan Williams stroked his spot kick over the bar and Andy Fleming rattled the woodwork to leave the Cumbrians with a 4-3 win.
Morecambe - Amond, Wright, Threlfall, Williams MISS, Fleming MISS.
United - Robson, O'Hanlon, Berrett, Noble.
Morecambe - Hughes (66)
United - O'Hanlon (65)
Morecambe - Arestidou, Threlfall, Kenyon, Hughes, Diagne (Ellison 63), Wright, Fleming, McGee (Williams 72), Mwasile (Sampson 80), Parrish, Amond. Subs - Roche, Doyle.
Carlisle United - Gillespie, McSweeney, O'Hanlon, Thirlwell, Robson, Potts (Townsend 80), Noble, Berrett, Amoo, Guy (Symington 72), Eccleston (Gillies 84). Subs - Fleming, Brough.
Referee - Mr David Webb
Attendance - 2,297 (858 away fans)