Norwich City. . . . 2
IT says something about the standard of the Premier League that the side sitting comfortably at its summit should struggle so uneasily in the Third Division lowlands of Brunton Park.
Apart from 11 minutes immediately after half-time, Carlisle were the more enterprising and effective side. The Cumbrian side monopolised in attack for long periods and had it not been for Mark Robins, they would be going to East Anglia for the second leg of this Coca Cola Cup second round tie with a well-deserved lead.
Norwich like to play the role of Premier League paupers, always having to sell in order to survive. Compared to Carlisle, however, they are millionaires; the fee they paid Manchester United for Robins this summer was almost 10 times the cost of an entire Carlisle team studded with free transfers.
Briefly and crucially, Robins looked worth the pounds 800,000 outlay. Norwich had been pounded throughout the first half and were fortunate only to be behind to Andy Barnsley's penalty, awarded after Ian Crook had tripped the lively Andy Watson.
Just 15 seconds after the break, Robins undid all Carlisle's good work, meeting a centre from David Phillips, controlling the ball and turning to lash a fierce shot into the net in one flowing, irresistible movement.
Robins also played a vital part in the goal that put Norwich ahead, returning a precise one-two to Jeremy Goss to set up a rare shooting chance. The prime contributor, though, was Carlisle's normally reliable goalkeeper, Kelham O'Hanlon, who allowed Goss's half-hit effort to squeeze under his body.
Carlisle could have been forgiven for becoming discouraged, but they did nothing of the sort. Bryan Gunn should have denied them an equaliser but he failed to reach the ball before Darren Edmondson who sidefooted home at the far post after an hour. But the move, involving Watson and Neil Williams, that produced the chance was typical of Carlisle's ambitious football on the night.
They finished in that vein as well, with Gunn making amends by saving well from Ricardo Gabbiadini and the irrepressible Watson, and Ian Culverhouse tackling Watson at full stretch to avert more danger.
Aidan McCaffery, the Carlisle manager, reflected his side's disappointment. 'We battled hard but all the hard work went in seconds in the second half.'
Carlisle: O'Hanlon; Williams, Thorpe, Holmes, Walling, Barnsley, Gabbiadini, Davey, Oghani (Sendall, 81), Watson, Edmondson. Substitute not used: Dalziel.
Norwich City: Gunn; Culverhouse, Bowen, Polston, Sutton, Sutch, Crook, Newman, Robins, Goss, Phillips. Substitutes not used: Woodthorpe, Beckford.
Referee: I Hendrick (Preston).Reuse content