Seven Seconds Away.

F A Cup 1st Round Replay.

Carlisle United 2 Boreham Wood 1

by John Mead. 

Sky Bet League One Carlisle salvaged their passage through to the next round with virtually the last kick of the game. Until then they had failed to lead Wood in three hours of competitive football. It was for seven seconds only they held the upper hand, a statistic that broke Wood hearts as much as it mended those of the disconsolate Blues fans.

The evening started with a rallying cry to his squad from Wood Chairman Danny Hunter that made the hairs on the back of the neck stand up. It ended with an even more emotional moment, a standing ovation from the Carlisle fans in what was one of the most memorable experiences ever offered to this non league side of heroes.

It was a fitting tribute to a side that had totally outplayed the hapless professionals in a first half where, were it not for a fine save from teenage custodian Greg Fleming to deny Luke Garrard a second penalty goal inside two minutes, the result would have surely been one for the headlines.

That the home support were already on their sides case within three minutes of the start was a fitting enough testament to Wood’s dominance. By then David Moli had already charged into the oppositions penalty area with the ball, signalling intent.

Moli then played Graeme Montgomery through after eleven minutes, his low shot running just wide of the left hand post.  The Cumbrians were losing possession for fun to a far hungrier opposition and were reluctant to run at the solid defence protecting James Russell’s goal.

Russell himself commanded his area when called upon coming for crosses that had found their range. The game opened up for Wood after 28 minutes. A nervy David Amoo gave up possession to Austin Lipman who dinked the ball over Pascal Chimbonda the former French International. He fuelled his embarrassment by bringing the Arsenal loan player down from behind inside the penalty area. Garrard stepped up and kept his cool placing his penalty into the top right hand corner of the net.

Wood were up and running and unbelievably just a minute after the restart the frail Carlisle defence were caught out again. Moli found himself inside the penalty area and with Conor Townsend failing to stop the Wolves loanee, he sent him sprawling.

The anger from the terraces was palpable, wrestled from total revolution only by the diving Fleming who guessed correctly to palm away a second spot kick from Garrard in as many minutes.

Callum Reynolds headed over the bar from the resultant corner before a woefully short back pass from Liam Noble sent Moli racing through on goal. This time the challenge from Sean O’Hanlon was clean.

With the home side restricted to attacks down the left, it was down to Ben Nunn to cut the supply chain of Matty Robson feeding Townsend on the overlap and he did not disappoint.

The failure to register a single shot on goal during a dire first half by the League One side left the thirty eight paying Wood fans in high spirits at the interval.

A cross from Amoo was punched clear as far as Lee Miller who saw his low shot cleared off the line by Charlie O’Loughlin after 49 minutes, before Nunn’s challenge to easily dispossess Robson was met by more displeasure from the suffering home support.

At this stage Carlisle were enjoying the majority of possession much as in the first leg at Meadow Park, but with no end product against a superb Wood defence. Graham Kavanagh slowly introduced his three substitutes, whilst Wood stuck to their task of  attempting to hit the home side on the counter attack.

With eleven minutes of normal time remaining a Chimbonda cross whipped in from the right found Miller who in turn found Russell in impeccable form, the Wood custodian producing a point blank save to parry to safety. However a minute later substitute David Symington crossed from the left finding Miller with his back to goal who sent the ball over Russell into the top left hand corner of the net.

Wood were tiring fast and Ian Allinson sent out Matthew Ball for Lipman. A Robson cross from the left hit the crossbar before Moli and Montgomery set up Nunn who played a one two with Ball, winning a corner.

Relying on the fresh legs of Ball the part timers refused to lie down and still looked like the side in the ascendancy. Moli stretching every sinew in his tired body broke again with Ball whose shot was saved by a now desperate Fleming.

With five minutes of additional time indicated Greg Morgan angled a fatigued cross from the left but there were no takers. With extra time beckoning James Berrett tried a shot from a central position that sent Russell sprawling low to save. The ball ran loose and with seven seconds remaining fellow substitute Mark Beck reacted quickest blasting the ball into the roof of the net to give those present and the many thousands more following via various media streams a depth charge of emotion that will never be forgotten.

A deflated Ian Allinson echoed the sentiments of his side citing the result as “ A bitter disappointment.” There was little more to say, so it was left to the warm appreciation of the Cumbrian crowd to explain away the occasion. With their side already in the tunnel the noise level rose and rose as the gallant Wood side left the field of play, hesitating to soak up the atmosphere  in self realisation of the massive impression they had made on domestic football’s greatest competition.

Team: Russell, Nunn, Jones, Cox, O’Loughlin, Reynolds, Montgomery, Garrard, Moli ( Sterling-Parker 89), Lipman (Ball 82), Morgan.

Subs not used: Whichelow, Noto, Courtnage, Lobjoit, Hastings. 

Bookings: Ball, Jones.

Goals: Carlisle United:  Miller 80, Beck 90+5.

             Boreham Wood: Garrard 29 pen.

Man Of The Match: Callum Reynolds.

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