Leeds United may well have bottomed out. There remains a play-off final at Wembley against either Doncaster Rovers or Southend United on Sunday week, but Leeds head to London with a sense of renewal. Inspired by 34-year-old Dougie Freedman, on loan from Crystal Palace, Leeds sealed their progress in dramatic style when hometown teenager Jonathan Howson drilled in his second of the evening 17 seconds into injury-time.
An added 30 minutes had seemed inevitable after Bradley Johnson clipped a post in the 77th minute and Kieren Westwood made a sprawling save from the evergreen Freedman. But there was one last attack and when Howson collected the ball 20 yards out, he was given time and space by a tired Carlisle and found the bottom corner with a left-foot shot.
Monday night's 2-1 defeat at Elland Road had been overturned and there was pandemonium in the away end. Briefly, there was also a possible confrontation with home supporters. But that passed and it was the Leeds manager Gary McAllister on the pitch punching the air. "That was for the Leeds fans tonight," he said, "after the damp squib on Monday. I gave the same players a chance to have another go and I got a reaction – brave, a wonderful result and a great performance. The players have dealt with everything, the 15 points, Gus [Poyet] leaving, Dennis [Wise] leaving and the new management team coming in."
It was from a swift exchange between Freedman and Howson that Leeds moved in front after 10 minutes, Howson showing composure to score one week before his 20th birthday. With the visitors level on aggregate, the belief drained from Carlisle and Leeds were worth the win.
Now they go to Wembley, 12 years after their last appearance there in the League Cup final.
Carlisle United (4-4-1-1): Westwood; Raven, Livesey, Murphy, Horwood; Dobie, Lumsdon, Smith, Hackney; Bridge-Wilkinson; Graham. Substitutes not used: Howarth (gk), Thirlwell, Arnison, Taylor, Madine.
Leeds United (4-4-2): Ankergren; Richardson, Huntington, Michalik, Johnson; Kilkenny, Howson, Douglas, Prutton; Beckford, Freedman. Substitutes not used: Lucas (gk), Marques, Carole, Kandol, Hughes.
Referee: A Wiley (Staffordshire).Reuse content