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Perrett's Verdict: Carlisle 1 Cherries 3
THIS comprehensive victory and polished performance was arguably the most telling since Eddie Howe returned to take the reins at Dean Court.
And while Cherries’ progression would have gone unnoticed by the leading lights in the FA Cup, the manner of their win would certainly have sent a message to their rivals in League One.
Boss Howe readily admitted Cherries’ slick display at Brunton Park had given him a pleasant selection dilemma, particularly as he made no fewer than five changes.
It was a major triumph for Cherries’ strength in depth as the club’s vast investment in the squad over the past 12 months continued to reap rewards under Howe’s astute stewardship.
A glance at the Cherries bench also told its own story with former England goalkeeper David James and Matt Tubbs, the club’s record signing, named among the substitutes.
Jalal, Howe’s first-choice during his first spell as manager, became a casualty of Cherries’ poor start to the season when he was replaced by James at the end of September.
And while James has played a significant role in Cherries’ revival, had Howe been appointed just a few days earlier, Jalal could have been the one taking the plaudits.
Although the 28-year-old stopper appeared culpable for Carlisle’s second-half consolation, he hardly put another foot wrong during an assured display.
Jalal allowed a free-kick from Jon Paul McGovern to find its way to the far post where giant striker Mark Beck was on hand to squeeze home a header 18 minutes from time.
However, his top-drawer save to deny Beck an 80th-minute equaliser, with Jalal diving full-length to his left to keep out the teenager’s low strike, proved crucial.
Allied to this, Jalal’s kicking was exemplary throughout, an area in which he convincingly outscores every other member of Cherries’ team of goalkeepers.
In front of Jalal, Cook, who was drafted in to replace injured skipper Miles Addison, played his part to ensure Carlisle would be restricted to few goalscoring chances.
And although he and Tommy Elphick had their work cut out in aerial jousts with Beck, the pair nullified the threat of Watford loan frontman Joe Garner, whose frustrations were clear for all to see.
Winger Fogden and midfielder O’Kane were both handed their first starts under Howe – and promptly repaid their manager by scoring within six minutes of one another.
Fogden capped an indefatigable display by opening the scoring with a deflected effort after 30 minutes, his low drive wrong footing Cumbrians goalkeeper Adam Collin after it had taken a faint touch from a defender.
“It was an absolute joke goal,” said Carlisle boss Greg Abbott. “We won the header from the corner and the ball went straight to their player who mishit it. We don’t seem to be getting those breaks at the moment.”
Abbott, who was clearly feeling sorry for both himself and his team when he answered questions during his post-match press conference, had put Cherries on a pedestal before kick-off by billing them as “the Manchester United of League One”.
Had it not been for some profligate finishing from Matty Robson, Abbott’s team could have briefly been the Reading of League One and taken an early lead, the midfielder firing wide with the goal at his mercy just seconds after Jalal had made a fine double save from the same player.
As it was, O’Kane made them pay with interest when he rifled an unstoppable drive past Collin following good work by Marc Pugh and Fogden in the 36th minute.
Pugh, who had starred and netted twice when the teams had met in the league at the end of October, gave another masterclass, leaving one Main Stand wag to suggest he would “like to play at Brunton Park every week...but not for Carlisle!”
Asked by a local radio reporter whether he would be glad to see the back of Pugh, Abbott replied: “I’ll be pleased to get everybody fit. I’m not bothered about Bournemouth, I’m bothered about Carlisle United.”
Abbott’s half-time substitutions showed just how effective Pugh and Charlie Daniels had been on the left side for Cherries in the opening period with right-back Frank Simek and right-midfielder Dave Symington both getting the hook.
However, Simek’s replacement Valentin Gjokaj would have been hoping parent club Derby County did not have a representative among the crowd as he was also given the treatment by Pugh in the second half.
Fortunately for Cherries, the ink is now dry on Pugh’s new contract.
The Lancastrian ensured 430 visiting supporters would head home in jubilant mood when he put the finishing touches to a one-sided second half by scoring a deserved third goal from a Simon Francis cross in injury time.
Cherries: Jalal 7, Francis 8, Cook 7, Elphick 7, Daniels 8, Fogden 7.5, MacDonald 7 (McQuoid, 58), O’Kane 7.5, Pugh 9*, Pitman 7 (Partington, 82), Grabban 7 (Fletcher, 90).
Unused subs: Demouge, Tubbs, McDermott, James (g/k).
Cumbrians: Collin, Simek (Gjokaj, h-t), Livesey, Edwards, Chantler, Symington (McGovern, h-t), Thirlwell, Potts, Robson (Welsh, 57), Beck, Garner.
Unused subs: Noble, Todd, McGinty, Gillespie (g/k).
Attendance: 2,980 (including 430 visiting supporters).
Referee: Paul Tierney (Lancashire).
Echo Star Man - Marc Pugh
Carlisle’s half-time substitutions said it all.
After Pugh and fellow tormentor-in-chief Charlie Daniels had run riot down the left flank, Cumbrians boss Greg Abbott hauled off right-back Frank Simek and right-midfielder Dave Symington.
However, Simek’s replacement Valentin Gjokaj fared no better as wing wizard Pugh also left him with twisted blood after serving up a virtuoso display.
Carlisle had no answer as the 25-year-old continued to delve into his box of tricks, his silky skills and nimble footwork a joy to behold for visiting supporters.