Everton 3 Carlisle 1: Phil Neville shock and awe at underdog opposition
Last updated at 9:44 PM on 03rd January 2010
Shocks may have been in short supply on FA Cup third-round Saturday, but Phil Neville was on the receiving end of one on his return to Everton’s starting line-up.
As a graduate of Manchester United’s academy, Neville has never been familiar with lesser opponents having their moment at his expense.
Now 32 and skipper of Everton, the thought sits just as uneasily, judging by his dismay at the way his side had to rely on two goals in the last eight minutes to see off League One Carlisle.
Wized of Oz: Cahill caresses the ball beyond the goalkeeper
The hosts needed a helping hand for their undeserved 12th-minute opener, James Vaughan latching on to an underhit back pass from Adam Clayton, and were on the rack for long spells after an equaliser soon after by Kevan Hurst.
After Carlisle’s Danny Livesey rattled the bar, Tim Cahill scrambled home the second and Leighton Baines scored a penalty in injury time.
It was hard to bear for Neville, who scouted for manager David Moyes during a four-month injury absence and admitted: ‘I watched an awful lot of games while I was out and if I had to assess this one I’d say Carlisle were really outstanding and deserved a replay.
‘It was only when we scored for a second time near the end that a bit of Premier League class came through.’
Carlisle manager Greg Abbott was a proud man despite the defeat, saying: ‘But for the width of the bar we could have been the headline act of the round. It was that close.’