Cumbrians a step closer to Wembley

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Carlisle produced a red-hot performance on a snowy Brunton Park pitch to stay on course for a second successive Wembley final in the Johnstone's Paint Trophy as they beat Sheffield Wednesday 3-1.

A first-half header by Francois Zoko put the Cumbrians ahead in the Northern Section semi-final tie and Lubo Michalik and Ben Marshall added two more after the break as Carlisle threatened to tear the Wednesday defence apart.

Despite a late header from Darren Purse, Wednesday's run of six straight wins came to a halt and to add to Owls' troubles, they lost top scorer Neil Mellor, who was stretchered off just before half-time.

Carlisle handled the conditions better than their opponents and only the outstretched foot of goalkeeper Nicky Weaver denied Carlisle's top scorer Gary Madine in the 12th minute.

However, Carlisle continued to press and took the lead on the half-hour when Zoko supplied the vital near-post header from Madine's cross with the ball bouncing in off the foot of the left-hand post.

Owls lost Mellor - their hat-trick hero against Hartlepool in the previous round - two minutes before the break after a challenge with Michalik.

Wednesday had penalty claims turned down when goalkeeper Adam Collin got in a tangle with Jermaine Johnson.

But it was Carlisle who went further ahead on the hour when Michalik thundered home a volley from 12 yards after Wednesday failed to clear James Berrett's corner.

Marshall capped a blistering spell of attacking in the 69th minute, delicately flicking the ball over the advancing Weaver from Madine's cross.

Purse pulled one back for the visitors in the 84th minute with a near-post header from Tommy Miller's corner.

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Sheffield Wednesday
Neil Mellor
Tommy Miller
Jermaine Johnson
League One
Gary Madine
Ben Marshall
Nicky Weaver
Carlisle United
Darren Purse
Adam Collin
James Berrett
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