Football: Glass is raised to ease pain for shattered fans

Carlisle United 2 Brightwell 62, Glass 90 Plymouth Argyle 1 Phillips 49 Half-time: 0-0 Attendance: 7,599
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The Independent Online
IT WAS the fourth minute of injury time. Carlisle United needed a winner to preserve their 71-year-old Football League status. Enter the hero.

The home side won a corner. Up came their goalkeeper, Jimmy Glass. The flag kick from Graham Anthony found Scott Dobie, whose header was parried by James Dungey, Plymouth's keeper. The rebound was driven into the net by a gleeful Glass to give the Cumbrians victory and send Scarborough, who could only draw at home to Peterborough, down into the Conference.

The keeper's astonishing goal led to a pitch invasion by the ecstatic fans, and the referee blew for full time as soon as the field was cleared. So, with the last kick of the game, Carlisle's season was transformed from tragedy to triumph, as far as the fans were concerned.

Scarborough's 3-0 win over Plymouth on Wednesday sent Carlisle to the bottom of the table for the first time since August. This depressing season has been hard to bear for fans of a club which briefly led the old First Division 25 years ago. It was clear whom they blamed.

Michael Knighton, the club's chairman, was greeted with vehement abuse. The former Manchester United director had rashly promised to make the club a power in the land on his arrival seven years ago. Instead, his policy of selling promising young players and hiring inadequate replacements began a downward spiral. Within five minutes the fans turned their backs on the pitch to shout "fat greedy bastard" at him. Events elsewhere produced the first cheer of the day - a Peterborough goal at Scarborough.

In the eighth minute Richard Tracey's header hit the bar, but Carlisle's play was punctuated with errors and chances were hard to come by. With nothing to play for, Plymouth attacked only occasionally, Glass alertly turning aside Martin Barlow's shot. In the 25th minute Dobie's header went in the net but the "goal" was ruled out because of a pushing. Richard Prokas' 20-yard drive was just too high as Carlisle stepped up the pace.

Two Anthony corners almost produced goals: Dobie headed just high, then an Ian Brightwell header was blocked on the line by Jon Beswetherick. Carlisle paid for those misses in the third minute of the second half, 18-year-old midfielder Lee Phillips finishing a good run by sending a low, left-footed shot into the corner of the net from 20 yards, his first goal for the club.

That goal, plus a Scarborough equaliser, turned the fans' mood ugly again and Knighton came in for more fearful stick. Tempers were heated on the pitch, too, as Anthony and Plymouth's Jon Ashton brawled briefly. But the mood improved after 61 minutes, Brightwell thumping home a 30-yard equaliser.

It was a fine strike from the captain, but his side needed another goal to have a chance of staying up and their attacks became increasingly desperate.

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