Charlton 2 (Morrison 61, Euell 89).
Kevin Nolan reports from The Valley.
The scorers of the two goals which knocked stubborn Carlisle United out of the FA Cup and earned Charlton a place among the elite in the Third Round draw will hardly expect immortality for their efforts. Bundled in from a combined distance of no more than four yards, neither strike was particularly memorable in itself. But that misses the point. On another level, they were priceless.
By the time Michael Morrison ruthlessly smashed the can't-miss opener past helpless keeper Adam Collin, this second round tie was heading into its final half hour and the first seeds of genuine anxiety were beginning to sprout. A midweek replay at Carlisle's homely Brunton Park, no more than 12 miles south of the Scottish border, was looming as a very real possibility and with no disrespect intended to the Cumbrians, Charlton were looking forward to the potential trip like exiles to a Soviet gulag. Again no disrespect to Carlisle. Honestly.
Then Morrison struck and a weight was lifted from an admirably patient Valley. A hugely relieved Chris Powell celebrated enthusiastically with his staff, proving again that beneath his elegantly suited urbanity beats the heart and soul of a football firebrand. The mood was briefly euphoric until a note of caution was sounded. After all, United were by no means out of the hunt and an equaliser was certainly not yet out of the question. Substitute Francois Zoko did his best to provide one but Rhoys Wiggins resourcefully cleared his shot off the line. When two minutes later John Sullivan backtracked frantically to touch James Berrett's chip over the bar, the road to Carlisle was beckoning the Addicks. Then late substitute Jason Euell scrambled in the all-important second goal and the sat navs could be re-configured.
Unchanged from the side which beat Colchester on Tuesday, the visitors made clear their intentions to give their daunting task a real go. They buckled straight down to business and centre forward Lee Miller almost punished Morrison's weakly headed clearance with a crisp drive, saved smartly at full length by John Sullivan. Paul Thirlwell's long run then penetrated dangerously until Cedric Evina stopped him at the expense of a corner as the Cumbrians more than held their own.
With six changes themselves from the line-up which heroically saw off close pursuers Huddersfield five days previously, Charlton were understandably slower to settle. There was no doubting their commitment, however, and gradually they found their feet. Morrison prodded Wiggins' free kick over the bar before the best chance of the half went unconverted. Left back Matt Robson, sent off before half-time in the league fixture here on October 22nd, fouled Danny Green near the right touchline. Setpiece expert Green sent the free kick soaring to the far post where Morrison headed back for Danny Hollands, whose point blank effort was instinctively blocked by Adam Collin's left foot.
Before the break, Carl Cort redeemed an error by Hollands with a superb tackle on Liam Noble, then went close to converting Green's right wing corner with a header which whizzed inches too high.
Charlton's fondness for absentminded mistakes almost cost them immediately after resumption, with Robson seizing on Scott Wagstaff's slip to run 50 yards before unleashing a raking low drive which Sullivan turned aside at his left post. At the other end, as the game caught fire, impressive Bradley Pritchard's shot on the turn brought the best out of Collin, then Green's gloriously flighted pass was taken on his chest by Wagstaff as it cleared Lubomir Michalik but Collin advanced alertly to charge down the shot.
Green's confidence grows from game to game, as evidenced by the 50-yard potshot with which he sought to punish Collin's poor clearance. Left red-faced by Hollands' speculative effort in October, the hapless keeper's huge relief was obvious as the ball drifted narrowly off-target.
Then bingo! Charlton cracked it. Hollands' cross from the left earned the right wing corner which Green swung outward. In the ensuing melee, Cort's header was blocked, as was Morrison's follow-up. At the third time of asking, Morrison gleefully bashed the ball into the net.
His brow furrowed as Carlisle refused to surrender, the devilishly cunning Powell sent first Yann Kermorgant, then Bradley Wright-Phillips into the fray and, yet again, his boldness was instantly rewarded. Well, almost instantly, because Wright-Phillips was unable to beat Collin when sent clear of Michalik by Kermorgant's cleverly directed flick but the coup-de-grace was merely delayed.
Mopping up Evina's satisfactory shift, the old-pro nous of Euell took him on a late run into the goal area as Kermorgant crossed low from the right corner flag. A slight deflection threw him out of kilter but an emergency adjustment enabled The Valley's solitary playing link to those heady Premiership days to bundle his second goal of the season over the line. Before much longer, game Carlisle were heading back up to Cumbria, where, mercifully, they won't host the Addicks until the league game in early April, by which time the snowed-in passes will have melted and Spring won't "be far behind."
Charlton: Sullivan, Solly, Cort, Morrison, Wiggins, Green (Kermorgant 73), Hollands, Pritchard, Evina (Euell 87), Wagstaff, Hayes (Wright-Phillips 79). Not used: Pope, Doherty, Bover Izquierdo, Smith.
Carlisle: Collin, Ribeiro, Michalik (Chantler 86), Murphy, Robson, McGovern, Thirlwell (Madden 75), Berrett, Noble, Loy (Zoko 66), Miller. Not used: Gillespie, Livesey, Taiwo, McKenna.
Referee: A. Madley. Attendance: 7,461.