Football: Armstrong has Carlisle reeling

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The Independent Online
Carlisle United 1

Sunderland 3

Carlisle had dreamed of facing Jurgen Klinsmann at Tottenham Hotspur in the FA Cup fourth round. Instead they can concentrate on polishing an already bright League campaign, while Sunderland will confront Spurs in their most glamourous match since the 1992 final.

Two goals from Gordon Armstrong, who is out of contract and not entirely enamoured with life at Roker Park, and another from Phil Gray enabled the First Division side to negotiate a potentially tricky replay that was played in a near gale.

In reply Carlisle, runaway leaders of the Third Division, could offer only a goal from Dean Walling that briefly offered promise but was quickly snatched away. Cup fever might have gripped Carlisle but so had a flu epidemic which laid low eight YTS players. The first team had not been spared either. The director of coaching, Mick Wadsworth, had the problem of picking and hoping no one else would fall victim. "I couldn't plan anything," he lamented.

In the event he was deprived of two players - David Currie and Richard Prokas - although how many on the pitch were 100 per cent was open to conjecture.

They were feeling even more under the weather after a start as bad as Wadsworth could have conceived. Rod Thomas, Carlisle's former England youth player, had stoked the fires of optimism but they were almost extinguished by two Sunderland goals in 19 minutes. A first arrived after six minutes when Derek Ferguson's corner on the left was met by a header from Armstrong. Carlisle's Tony Gallimore managed to clear but the linesman ruled the ball had crossed the line.

The second was less controversial: a cross from Martin Smith on the left, a header from Craig Russell that hit the post and Armstrong bundled the ball in.

Carlisle, bedraggled and reeling, all but hauled themselves off the ropes and only a header on the goal-line by Martin Scott denied David Reeves after 29 minutes. A splendid save, too, from Sunderland's Alec Chamberlain halted Jeff Thorpe's header.

That had offered hope, and after 60 minutes it was made more tangible when Carlisle made inroads into the lead. Gallimore took a corner on the right and when it was not properly cleared Dean Walling turned and scooped the ball past Chamberlain.

Sunderland responded almost immediately, however, Phil Gray chipping exquisitely from 15 yards.

Carlisle still attacked and Thomas had a shot from 35 yards tipped round the post by Chamberlain, but the fight had become futile. By the end the home fans had to content themselves with drowning out Tannoy messages for the Sunderland supporters,their o nly victory -and a shallow and petty one at that -of the night.

Carlisle United (4-4-2): Caig; Edmondson, Walling, Mountfield, Gallimore; Conway, Robinson, Davey, Thorpe (Peters, 70); Thomas, Reeves. Substitutes not used: Joyce, Elliott (gk).

Sunderland (4-4-2): Chamberlain; Kubicki, Bennett, Melville, Scott; Armstrong, Ferguson, Ball, Smith; Russell (Howey, 85), P Gray. Substitutes not used: M Gray, Norman (gk).

Referee: J Worrall (Warrington).