Carlisle United 4 Huddersfield Town 0: Mission Impossible faces Terriers after dismal showing

WHEN Carlisle United last stood between Huddersfield Town and a trip to Wembley, such was the confident mood in Yorkshire following the first leg that club officials started booking the buses needed to ferry supporters to the final within hours of that 4-1 win

It was a bold move but one that almost backfired as by half-time in the return the Cumbrians were 2-0 up and Town had lost captain Peter Jackson to injury.

Huddersfield did hold on to reach the 1994 Autoglass Trophy final but the experience still served as a sobering lesson as to why nothing should be taken for granted in football.

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Even allowing for that, however, it is difficult to see anything but Carlisle walking out at Wembley come April's Johnstone's Paint Trophy final after a quite catastrophic visit to Brunton Park for the Terriers last night.

Goals from Ben Marshall, Tom Taiwo, Peter Murphy and Lubomir Michalik mean Lee Clark's men face a near Mission Impossible come next month's return at the Galpharm Stadium.

What exactly went wrong for Town is difficult to explain beyond the word 'everything'.

The League One promotion hopefuls were second-best throughout and could not have complained had the beating been even more severe.

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It took just 19 minutes for United, who boast five previous appearances in the final of the competition for clubs in Leagues One and Two, to go ahead.

Francois Zoko was the creator with a sublime flick that allowed Marshall to scamper clear and score. Worse was to follow for the visitors just four minutes later when Zoko again unlocked the creaking Terriers defence and Taiwo drilled low past Ian Bennett from 20 yards.

Only two timely challenges from Tom Clarke and another vital clearance from Jamie McCombe then prevented Carlisle from adding a third goal before the break.

An even bigger let-off came 12 minutes after the restart when former Leeds United defender Michalik's close-range shot looked destined for the net until Antony Kay blocked on the line.

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It proved, however, to be only a temporary respite with the third goal arriving just after the hour when Murphy powered a bullet header past Bennett after being picked out unmarked by former Town man James Berrett.

Three minutes later, Berrett again underlined his prowess from deadball situations with a wonderfully flighted free-kick that Michalik finished from close range.

Huddersfield did create a couple of late chances when Kevin Kilbane flashed a header wide and Anthony Pilkington had an effort saved.

But it was a case of too little, too late from the visitors, whose shockingly poor performance means any coach company in the Carlisle area can expect to spend this morning fielding enquiries about possible availability on the first Sunday in April.

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Carlisle United: Collin; Simek, Michalik, Cooper (Livesey 90), Murphy; Marshall, Taiwo, Noble, Bennett; Zoko, Curran. Unused substitutes: Hurst, Caig, Wells, Bgarssin.

Huddersfield Town: Bennett; Peltier (Gudjonsson 88), P Clarke, McCombe, T Clarke; Pilkington, Kay, Kilbane, Arfield (Roberts 60); Novak (Lee 62), Rhodes. Unused substitutes: Allinson, N Clarke.

Referee: E Ilderton (Tyne & Wear).