Lane clash rekindles cup memories for old boy

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A TRIP to Bramall Lane brings back happy memories for Carlisle United captain Paul Thirlwell.

The midfield schemer spent 12 months of his career at Sheffield United between 2004-05, playing 36 times under Neil Warnock’s regime.

His stint in South Yorkshire brought him his first league goal and he also featured in the two classic FA Cup meetings with Premier League heavyweights Arsenal. Andy Gray converted a last minute penalty to secure a 1-1 draw at Highbury before the Gunners prevailed in the replay on penalties.

“The Arsenal games were the highlight,” said the 32-year-old. “We held them at Highbury, which was a great effort, and then did ever so well in the replay to take them to extra time and penalties.

“They had a strong team out, the likes of Dennis Bergkamp, Robert Pires, Ashley Cole and Patrick Vieira. I don’t usually swap shirts but my brother-in-law wanted me to get one that night so I got Freddie Ljungberg’s.

“It was a blow to miss out on penalties but it was a fantastic occasion and Bramall Lane was absolutely bouncing.”

His solitary strike for United came in a 3-3 draw with Wolves. He says he is looking forward to returning to his former employees.

“United have a strong squad, there’s no doubt about that,” he said. “Nick Montgomery is still there from my time, and I keep in touch with him.

“There’s Stephen Quinn, who was coming through as a YTS when I was playing with his brother, Alan, and he has done well to establish himself now.”