Carlisle United were made to work hard to earn a replay from their long trip south to face Boreham Wood in the first round of this season’s FA Cup competition as the conference south strugglers upped their game and did the work to make sure their current impressive unbeaten run continued.
Boss Graham Kavanagh had warned his charges against complacency ahead of kick off and it was a case of digging deep to make sure they stayed in the hat for the second round draw on what became a frustrating day.
The underdogs battled hard from the off to keep things tight on a soft surface and they gave as good as they got in the opening exchanges as David Moli and Graeme Montgomery combined well to keep the Carlisle back line busy.
United created the first opening of the day when Brad Potts overlapped on the right. His deep cross found Matt Robson but the header was easy for James Russell to save.
A Montgomery cross from wide presented Garrard with an unexpected opening but the midfielder lost his balance and he prodded his effort right at the keeper. Liam Noble countered with a raking shot from distance but it was always heading wide of the target.
The spongy playing surface made it difficult to play at pace and a ball over the top from the Boreham half found Moli with his back to goal. He used his strength to muscle O’Hanlon out of the way and it needed a diving save from Gillespie to stop what looked to be a certain goal.
The Cumbrians started to find their range and a free kick from Matt Robson sat up nicely as it cannoned back off the wall. He followed up with an instant volley but he snatched at it and it ran harmlessly away to safety.
Another United set piece caused problems as Liiam Noble curled a lovely ball to the back post. O’Hanlon was free and clear but Russell back tracked to get enough of a touch to make it difficult for the defender to score.
Garrard and O’Loughlin had rushed attempts as Boreham showed in flashes but the Cumbrians looked the more likely as they slipped into second gear. Another accurate free kick from Robson brought a diving save from Russell as it skimmed the edge of the wall and Berrett recovered the half clearance. He spotted O’Hanlon and a downward header beat the keeper and ricocheted back off the post. The defender was off balance and his second much weaker attempt was cleared off the line by an alert Callum Reynolds.
Noble had his shooting boots on, but Boreham stood brave in the face of three consecutive efforts and the ball eventually fell to Berrett as the home side battled to clear. His cross brought a perfect chest down from Lewis Guy and he had the goal at his mercy as he thumped a crunching drive at the roof of the net. Russell scampered across and somehow spread himself to complete an unbelievable point blank save.
More good work in the middle of the park from Berrett gave Noble another sight of the target but O’Loughlin threw out a leg to send the effort away.
The Wood grew in confidence as the game went on and Moli was once again at the heart of the action as he showed for every ball forward. His persistence, and a moment of hesitation when he should really have pulled the trigger, opened things up for Arsenal-loanee Austin Lipman and he was disappointed to see a crunching drive whisk past the upright.
Lipman repeated the feat as the white shirts increased their dominance and the visiting supporters held their breath as he tried to find the roof of the net with the Carlisle stopper off his line. A swift recovery brought a tip over the bar just in the nick of time.
Conor Townsend got forward well for the first attack after the break and his cross needed a touch as Guy and Robson ran in. Both were close but the ball zipped past and onwards to the safety of a goal kick.
The Wood came out fired up after the break and a deflected Lipman shot sparked a period of intense pressure. Montgomery went close as he twisted and turned but it was Moli who was most frustrated as his crisp volley from a near post corner whistled through a mass of bodies. Gillespie was rooted to the spot as the ball flew into his side netting.
More enterprising home play with bright passing between Garrard and Cox took Boreham into the area and that left Lipman with options right and left. He went for glory and was left to explain his actions as his shot sailed off into the distance.
Both sides kept things tight but Prince Buaben held his position to allow Potts to make his way forward. The defender kept his head over the ball but Russell was able to make a comfortable save.
David Amoo was also guilty of sending hopefuls shots into the keeper’s arms but David Symington almost found a way through when he let one go from 19 yards. Russell saw it late but he dropped low and palmed it away.
Montgomery and Ball added pace as Boreham tried to grab a late winner and a late effort from the substitute had Gillespie scampering to protect his near post. The big keeper fell to the ground and he needed a prolonged period of treatment as he complained of what appeared to be a muscle tear.
That took the sting out of the tail end of the game and a Berrett rasper into the side netting had some Carlisle fans celebrating what they thought was a last ditch goal. The cheers subsided and the replay was confirmed as the referee blew time on a disappointing day out.
Boreham Wood - Jones (43)
United - Potts (52), Noble (85)
Boreham Wood - Russell, Nunn, Jones, Garrard, O'Loughlin, Reynolds, Morgan, Cox, Moli (Sterling-Parker 76), Lipman (Ball 76), Montgomery. Subs - Jibodu, Noto, Whichelow, Courtnage, Hastings.
Carlisle United - Gillespie, Potts, Thirlwell, O'Hanlon, Townsend, Buaben (Gillies 75), Noble, Berrett, Amoo, Guy (Symington 54), Robson (Beck 60). Subs - Fleming, Chantler, Livesey.
Referee - Mr Brendan Malone
Attendance - tbc (tbc away fans)