Carlisle United 1 Lincoln City 1 (Carlisle win 4-3 on penalties): Carlisle United ejected League One side Lincoln City from the Papa John’s Trophy last night, winning 4-3 on penalties after a 1-1 draw and moving into the competition's last 16. 

As they do so, there still won’t be another Premier League Under-21 team in their sights until Wembley at the earliest. Strange.

Also, let’s be clear: amusing.

Five years of the lower-league cup being infiltrated by the big clubs, their money and their stockpiled young players, and not a single one of those sides has been good enough to make it through the group stage in Carlisle’s section of the draw.

News and Star: Carlisle's Tristan Abrahams takes on Lincoln in front of a small crowd at Brunton ParkCarlisle's Tristan Abrahams takes on Lincoln in front of a small crowd at Brunton Park

Absolutely, unquestionably lovely.

The Trophy, the northern half of it at least, has reverted to how it should have been from minute one: League One versus League Two, and that’s it. As Carlisle progress, via a stubbornly persistent performance and Lewis Montsma’s airborne Lincoln penalty, it will go forward with the illusion of how things used to be before 2016.

News and Star: Lincoln City's Lewis Montsma has his head in his hands after missing the crucial penaltyLincoln City's Lewis Montsma has his head in his hands after missing the crucial penalty

The Trophy’s social media accounts will be forcibly limited in how many Premier League clubs they can salivate over from here on. And a big idea which has taken hold in the national game over recent years will receive one hell of a beating.

So let us pause, before reviewing the detail of last night’s game, and take stock of current things. Last week, whilst speaking on TalkSport, the Aston Villa chief executive Christian Purslow claimed: “Everything good in English football sits in the Premier League.”

This was a reflex response to the government’s Fan-Led Review proposing that some of the top-flight’s sweets should be taken away. 

It was an argument as desperate as it was crass. If everything good in football resides at that level, how does one explain the fact that the supposed cream of youth at Liverpool, Manchester United, Manchester City, Leeds, Newcastle and Everton have all failed to clear even the first hurdle of this modest, maligned old competition?

News and Star: Rod McDonald and Zach Clough combineRod McDonald and Zach Clough combine

Could it be that, in some of those cases, their best young players don’t actually take part, and it’s those lower down long pecking orders asked to carry out Trophy duties – going on to lose against teams like Carlisle, Hartlepool, Harrogate, Oldham and Doncaster?

Could it be that the hoarded many…aren’t good enough? Could it be that this very neatly exposes the flaw in hoovering up more players than these clubs know what to do with? 

I know the answer, you know the answer, we know the answer and this has long been reflected in a different sort of fan-led review: the one where many fans have turned their backs on this travesty of a Trophy, post-revamp.

News and Star: Chris Maguire opens the scoring for LincolnChris Maguire opens the scoring for Lincoln

884 was the official attendance at Brunton Park last night (the ground’s fourth lowest crowd ever) – in the wake of more Premier League wailing. Next up was chief executive Richard Masters professing it would be a “disaster” for the top-flight to share a bigger chunk of its obscene television wealth with those down the chain. 

He told the BBC, without fear of parody, that “not enough attention is given” to what would happen to the Prem should such devastating events come to pass. 

Won’t somebody please think of the Premier League?! Poor things.

Then, last night, we had Leeds’ Angus Kinnear comparing the risk of redistribution with policies that cause famine. Dear me. 

News and Star: Jordan Gibson takes on the Lincoln defenceJordan Gibson takes on the Lincoln defence

One day, a reality check might smack the top people in the game squarely across the chops. Someone in charge of competitions like this might also weigh up the difference between prize money and value. They might recognise that the Trophy, with the Under-21s, enables something destructive; something which the elite, quite clearly, don’t want to give up one iota.

Until then, on we go in this cup with an asterisk. Carlisle boss Keith Millen named a strong side and asked his side to be as organised as possible, as Lincoln tried to pass and play around them on a rain-lashed night. 

Hakeeb Adelakun was the Imps’ most dynamic player but both he and Max Sanders were denied by Mark Howard early on. Carlisle were drilled in their shape, while the woodwork twice denied them: a visiting defender deflecting a corner against a post, and Callum Guy skimming the bar. 

News and Star: Manasse Mampala celebrates after setting up Jack Armer for United's equaliserManasse Mampala celebrates after setting up Jack Armer for United's equaliser

Lincoln finally took the lead on half-time, when Adelakun set up Chris Maguire to rifle home. Carlisle ought to have levelled early in the second period, but Jordan Gibson couldn’t shoot on target after pouncing on a Cohen Bramall slip and rounding Griffiths. 

Howard kept the Blues in it with an impressive save to turn an Adelakun piledriver against the post – and United then broke to level through a fine low finish from the overlapping Jack Armer, sub Manasse Mampala having done the excellent groundwork.

News and Star: The decisive penalty sails over Mark Howard's crossbar as United win the shoot-out 4-3The decisive penalty sails over Mark Howard's crossbar as United win the shoot-out 4-3

That forced penalties, in which Jon Mellish and Maguire missed and everyone else scored except Montsma, whose Richard Keogh tribute attempt gave the Blues an outcome for the small, sodden crowd to enjoy. 

Some of us at Brunton Park, sad to say, found it hard to concentrate on all that. We were too busy worrying about the poor old Premier League.