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Monday, 22 September 2014

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We got out of jail against Port Vale admits Carlisle Utd captain Frank Simek

Skipper Frank Simek put Carlisle United back on the Wembley trail with a dramatic cup victory over Port Vale and then admitted: We got out of jail.

Frank Simek photo
Frank Simek

The stand-in captain converted the winning penalty as the Blues completed an unlikely shoot-out win against their League Two opponents.

United had to come from 2-0 down in normal time in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy northern second round, before winning 4-3 on penalties. Goalkeeper Adam Collin saved two Vale spot-kicks before Simek fired the decisive penalty at the Warwick Road End.

The American defender admitted he was delighted to have sealed Carlisle’s place in the next round – but offered an honest assessment of United’s below-par display which had put their place in the competition in peril.

“We got out of jail,” said the USA international.

“We didn’t play well at all and we weren’t at the races with the way we started the game. It’s a good thing we finished it well. Against Notts County in the league on Saturday we can’t play like we did in the first 70 minutes of this game, or we’ll get turned over.”

United – last season’s losing finalists – looked dead and buried when they fell two goals behind courtesy of an Oliver Norwood own-goal and a Marc Richards header.

But a triple substitution from boss Greg Abbott helped swing the tie back in their favour, and late strikes from James Chester and sub Jason Price took it to penalties in front of a 2,273 crowd.

“The three subs [Price, Matty Robson and Kevan Hurst] changed the game,” said Simek. “They made a huge impact.

“We hadn’t been passing the ball well to put it mildly, and we were losing our 50-50s. That’s not a winning formula. But we got better and we did well to bounce back, showing lots of character. We are through to the next stage and that’s all that counts.”

Simek said he had no hesitation in stepping up for the penalty that set United on another potential money-spinning cup run, despite being anything but a spot-kick expert.

And the former Sheffield Wednesday star said there is no reason why the Blues cannot make another surge to the national stadium in a competition that earned the club £300,000 last season.

“I normally stay as far away as possible from penalties – I can’t even remember the last time I took one – but I fancied it,” Simek said. “I wanted to take one and I’m pleased I got the chance.

“When Craig [Curran] missed I was hoping Adam would pull off a couple of saves, and he did. He was brilliant for us.

“I’ve spoken to the guys who got the club to Wembley last year about what a great day out it was. If we could get there again it would be unbelievable. I don’t see why we can’t. We weren’t great against Port Vale but we have got the energy in the team to go far.”

The northern quarter-final draw will be made on Saturday morning.

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