FA Cup dream over for St Albans City but Carlisle United made to work for it
- Credit: Archant
Three late Carlisle United goals ended St Albans City’s participation in the FA Cup in a 5-3 defeat – but the Saints made a very good fist of it.
Junior Morias got two and Louie Theophanous one as the Vanarama National League South side gave their league opponents a scare at a packed Clarence Park.
But two from Jabo Ibehre, one from Reggie Lambe, a penalty from Danny Grainger and an own goal ended the dreams of the 3,473 crowd.
It was breathless entertainment and Saints’ fans at least had the pleasure of the three sweetest strikes all season to savour.
The first came just four minutes in.
For anyone who has graced Clarence Park over the last two years, a goal from someone cutting in from the left and firing in at the near post has been commonplace.
Yet this time it wasn’t Theophanous, it was Morias and don’t tell Louie, but this was better.
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It rose, it dipped and it settled in the top corner past the despairing fingers of Mark Gillespie.
City’s top scorer clearly knew it was good as he tried to equal it on 12 minutes with a dipping volley of his own from the edge of the box.
Gillespie’s despairing fingers managed to get there this time and the keeper tipped it over the crossbar.
But hopes of a cup upset were shelved eight minutes later when the visitors were given a penalty.
Russell was forced to quickly come out when the ball squirmed through the City defence but Charlie Wyke had got their first and was dumped to the floor.
No complaints from Saints and skipper Grainger coolly equalised.
But while further chances were not forthcoming, the League Two side were clearly ruffled and manager Keith Curle was forced to remove defender Michael Raynes prior to the break who, having already been booked, was perhaps fortunate not to receive another yellow for a foul on Ben Herd.
Curle’s frustrations were clear and a different Carlisle were expected in the second half.
And while it wasn’t an all-guns blazing reappearance it was a more determined Cumbrian side.
And with the rain making the pitch incredibly slick, Carlisle took the lead.
A corner from the left was glanced goalwards by Jason Kennedy although the final touch looked to be off a City player.
With the visitors now in front, you wondered how long it would be before Ian Allinson looked to his bench.
The answer was six minutes as Shaun Lucien replaced George Casey and City reverted to a familiar shape.
And within two minutes the dreams of an upset were back.
Morias was again the scorer although it looked like he had overdone it, the striker stayed cool and turned inside his man before leaving Gillespie rooted.
A further six minutes on, however, and the dreams were again shattered.
This time it was from the head of Ibehre who found plenty of space at the back post to nod pass Russell.
It was harsh on City as it was the first time in the entire game the marking had slipped.
It seemed to deflate City and a further headed effort from Ibehre and one from Lambe gave the score a flattering look to the Cumbrians.
But there was still time for another wonderful goal from City to light up the crowd.
Theophanous got it, on the half volley.
It wasn’t enough but City fans will leave with plenty more fantastic memories to cherish.
City: Russell, Casey (Lucien 63), Bender, Chappell, Martin, Hill, Herd, Thomas (Ball 84), Theophanous, Morias, Noble (Merson 75)
Subs (not used): Coulton, Locke, Hoenes, Akinyemi
Goals: Morias 4, 65, Theophanous 86
Carlisle: Gillespie, Grainger, Joyce, Raynes (Lambe 42), Ellis, Kennedy, Jones, Wyke (S.Miller 70), Adams (T.Miller 74), Ibehre, Brisley
Subs (not used): Crocombe, Devitt, Gillesphey, Asamoah
Goals: Grainger (pen) 20, Martin (og) 57, Ibehre 71, 81
HT: Score: St Albans City 1 Carlisle United 1
Referee: Simon Hooper