Football: Sunderland mount lucky late escape: Howey inflicts cruel justice

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The Independent Online
Carlisle United. . .0

Sunderland . . . . .1

(after extra time)

A GOAL from Lee Howey in the 101st minute of a replay Carlisle had dominated during normal time sent a highly relieved Sunderland into a fourth-round FA Cup tie at Wimbledon.

The First Division side's pressure finally told on Carlisle when Howey, a stand-in for the injured Don Goodman, without whom Sunderland had lacked punch for most of the game, hooked in from close range when Carlisle had failed to clear Martin Smith's right-wing cross.

It was cruel justice for a Carlisle side who had looked capable of making history repeat itself. Twenty years ago Carlisle beat Sunderland, then the FA Cup holders, in a replay at Brunton Park. With a little more luck, they could have done the same last night and, in the process, they would have made a nonsense of their position in the bottom half of the Third Division.

All the early composure, on a rough and heavy pitch that did not lend itself to refinements, came from Carlisle. The trickery of Rod Thomas, the willing and intelligent running of David Reeves and the enterprise of George Oghani had Sunderland at full stretch. The strain told in bookings for Andy Melville and Kevin Ball, both of whom committed fouls under pressure from Carlisle's lively attack.

It was midway through the second half before Tony Caig, Carlisle's young, third-choice goalkeeper, was seriously tested. But thereafter, Sunderland, marginally the fitter side despite a tough derby against Middlesbrough on Sunday, came into the game more strongly and Caig had to make saves from Derek Ferguson and twice from Phil Gray.

Even then, Carlisle had the best chance to clinch it, Reeves seeing his shot excellently saved by Alec Chamberlain after his captain, Simon Davey, had put him through.

The sickening blow of going behind in a tie which, for 180 minutes and more, they had deserved to win was still not sufficient to knock the fight out of Carlisle. As time ran out, Reeves finally found the net after Darren Edmondson had flicked on a cross from Ian Arnold, the substitute. It was hard to argue against the offside decision, but impossible to refute the case that Carlisle, almost out of existence 18 months ago, had done themselves proud.

Carlisle United (1-4-3-2): Caig; Edmondson (McMahon, 113); Burgess, Walling, Joyce, Oghani; Davey, Reddish, Conway (Arnold, 105); Thomas, Reeves. Substitute not used: Elliott (gk).

Sunderland (4-4-2): Chamberlain; Owers, Bennett, Melville, Ord; Atkinson (Russell, 98), Ferguson, Ball, Smith; P Gray, Howey. Substitutes not used: M Gray, Norman (gk).

Referee: R Dilkes (Mossley).

(Photograph omitted)