By Tony Leighton
"You couldn't write the script," insisted Johnstone's Paint Trophy Final hero Peter Murphy as the Carlisle United defender reflected on the wonderful story of his match-winning performance just two days after becoming a father for the first time and 12 months after his mistake had led to Wembley woes for the Cumbrians.
With his partner Lisa and yet to be named new-born baby boy - less than 54 hours old at kick-off and quite possibly Wembley's youngest ever crowd member - as his inspiration, Murphy volleyed home the 12th minute goal that gave Carlisle a 1-0 victory over Carlisle's npower League 1 rivals Brentford.
"It's the stuff dreams are made of," said 30-year-old Murphy, who is in his 10th season at Brunton Park. "I'm on cloud nine and my legs are like jelly. The birth of my first child was the best day of my life; then you come to the game, score a goal, get 'Man of the Match,' get the win and then all the celebrating - it's crazy!"
Crazy with delight was Murphy, along with his team mates and the thousands of Carlisle fans who had made the long journey to Wembley in the hope of seeing a Trophy triumph for their favourites following three defeats in the Final in the previous eight seasons - the most recent a 4-1 trouncing by Southampton 12 months ago.
A needless Murphy handball led to the penalty from which Saints scored their first goal, so the defender - who had played in all three of those Final defeats - was very happy to put the record straight. "Everybody remembers I handled the ball," he noted, "so it's good to turn it around, and me getting the goal was the icing on the cake."
If it was good for Murphy to turn it around it was possibly even more so for Manager Greg Abbott, who confessed: "Last year was a disaster of the highest proportions. It was the worst I have felt in my whole life. We didn't make it a match - it was dead after 25 minutes. That was a big let-down, but today we put it right."
Carlisle's second Trophy success, in their record-making sixth Final, meant joy for everyone involved at Brunton Park but despair for Brentford as the Griffin Park club lost in the Final for the third time in the competition. As close as the game was, however, caretaker Manager Nicky Forster had no complaints about the result.
"It took us a little while to get used to the occasion," admitted Forster. "As much as you try to prepare the players it is a unique atmosphere (at Wembley). The surroundings are so different, everything about the day is different and we didn't respond as well as we would have liked."
"In the second half we moved the ball a lot better and dominated possession, but over the course of the 90 minutes we didn't get enough quality balls into the box or hit the target enough. We are disappointed and everyone is dejected at the moment, but I'm still proud of the lads because they worked incredibly hard to get to Wembley."
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