Keith Millen said he used images of Carlisle United fans packing out Wembley in past seasons in a bid to inspire his players last night.

The Blues progressed to the last 16 of the Papa John’s Trophy by beating Lincoln City on penalties.

The game took place in front of Brunton Park’s fourth lowest all-time crowd of just 884 as some fans continued to boycott the controversial competition over its involvement of Premier League Under-21 teams.

Manager Millen, though, was delighted with how his side overcame League One opposition.

And he said he talked before the game about the incentive of trying to go all the way in the competition – United having reached the final six times before.

“I always try to think of some kind of theme for games – it could be anything, whatever comes to me,” he said.

“Rather than just stand there and talk tactics, I always look for something else.

“I remembered people talking about the record the club has had in this competition so I asked Jacob [Blain], our analyst, to find me some clips and pictures of the fans at Wembley.

“So, before I even touched on tactics I showed the lads pictures of Carlisle fans at Wembley and I told them, ‘You’re four games away from being here. That’s how important this game is because you don’t know where winning could take you’.

News and Star: United celebrate Jack Armer's goal against Lincoln (photo: Barbara Abbott)United celebrate Jack Armer's goal against Lincoln (photo: Barbara Abbott)

“It should give us that little bit of edge that we’re in the last 16, and it isn’t like the FA Cup third round where it’s a Premier League team and you’re up against it.

“We know the level of teams in the competition so why not dream of going to Wembley? How many players can actually say they’ve played there?

“I don’t know whether or not [talking about that] made a difference but it made me feel better…”

Carlisle had to come from behind on a rainswept night after Chris Maguire shot Lincoln ahead on the stroke of half time.

Jack Armer’s first Brunton Park goal brought United level.

They then won the shoot-out 4-3, with Armer, Corey Whelan, Brad Young and Taylor Charters all scoring after Jon Mellish had missed. Maguire and Lewis Montsma missed for the visitors.

News and Star: An airborne Brad Young prepares to convert his shoot-out penalty (photo: Barbara Abbott)An airborne Brad Young prepares to convert his shoot-out penalty (photo: Barbara Abbott)

United earned £20,000 in prize money with details of the third round draw - which will be unseeded - expected to be confirmed soon.

Millen said he was pleased with the way Carlisle stuck to their task in a difficult test against higher-level opposition.

But he still said they need to improve aspects of their game.

“It’s a good feeling, without a doubt, because it was hard work,” the manager said.

“The conditions were horrendous with the heavy rain and the pitch, so credit to both teams that they kept going.

“Lincoln caused us a lot of problems when they had the ball. I felt we were comfortable but without us ever really having any control of the game.

“Sometimes that happens and you have to respect the opponent and what they can do.

“Generally they never really opened us up, but we were having to do a lot of work to stop them from getting through us. To let them score in the last 30 seconds of the first half is a tough one, and we were disappointed because you could see how hard the lads had worked to stay in the game.

News and Star: Young fans in the Paddock at the Lincoln game (photo: Barbara Abbott)Young fans in the Paddock at the Lincoln game (photo: Barbara Abbott)

“For all of their good play we actually had the three best chances, and I’ve told the lads again that they’ve got to stay in games. If they do that chances will come, as they did in this game.

“I felt I needed to try to change something at half time because I could see how tired we were getting, so we tweaked it a little bit.

“The front two had worked hard but I didn’t feel they had any impact on the game, so we matched up against Lincoln a little bit more in the middle of the park.

“That got us back into the game a bit more, but the problem you get when you have to work as hard as we did out of possession, is that when you get that transition I demand of the players they then have to pass the ball.

"There are two sides of the game – we were very good without the ball, not good enough with it.

"But saying that, we had three good opportunities, and I felt if we could have got a few more passes off, they were open for the counter-attack but we were wasteful, and that’s something I want us to improve on.

"As the game went on, I always felt we would get a chance, and we had a couple in the second half certainly, and took one of them.

“I was pleased we stayed in the game. Gibbo [Jordan Gibson] had that great chance when he went clean through and missed.

“That was a hard one to take, but then we scored a great goal. After that I wanted us to try to stay solid and I didn’t mind taking it to penalties.”

News and Star: Keith Millen on the touchlineKeith Millen on the touchline

Millen said he was pleased at the way players immediately put their hands up to take penalties.

“I said, ‘Who’s good, who wants to take them?’ and they were – bang, bang, bang – ‘Ok, off you go then. Make sure you concentrate and stick to what you do, and commit to it’.

“They were excellent pens. I would never make a player take a penalty – it’s how they feel at that moment.

“I’m delighted, really pleased, because you work so hard and if you don’t win the game after that you’ve got to pick everybody up again. We can now rest, recover and look forward to Saturday.”