Carlisle progressed to the second round of the FA Cup as they struck four times at non-league Dulwich in front of the BBC cameras.
Mike Jones’ rocket, two goals from Harry McKirdy and one from Olufela Olomola eased pressure on manager Steven Pressley, as they remain unbeaten against non-league opposition in the competition since 1999.
Hamlet were backed by a sold-out Champion Hill of 3,336 but defender Christian Smith‘s goal four minutes after the restart was ultimately a consolation.
United’s counter-attacking approach worked well as winger McKirdy set-up Scunthorpe loanee Olomola to deftly volley home after eight minutes, before the 22-year-old got one for himself before the interval thanks to some tricky Nathan Thomas play.
Pressley’s men were in control heading into the tunnel at half-time but when former Preston North End play-maker Jeffrey Monakana whipped in an inviting free-kick from the right following the break, and centre-back Smith saw his name in lights.
The 31-year-old journeyman found himself free in the penalty area and nodded past Adam Collin to pull one back and send all-but the 500 travelling supporters in the packed South London stadium wild.
However, six minutes later, midfielder Jones got forward in space and fired an uncharacteristic rocket from 25 yards, which gave goalkeeper Charlie Grainger no chance as it hit the top right-hand corner to kill the contest.
The Cumbrians relaxed and soaked up Dulwich’s desperate attempts to salvage something, which allowed McKirdy to once again break away on the left and slot in. That fourth finish in the dying embers made sure Carlisle were in the hat for tonight’s draw.
Pressure off Pressley – for now
After being booed off by supporters on more than one occasion back at Brunton Park this season, the Scottish boss made sure the hardy fans were happy on their seven-hour round trip back north.
The 3-4-3 formation revealed in line-up announcement bemused supporters before the game but only a set-piece breached the Blues; albeit a type of goal conceded one too many times this campaign.
Mounting pressure has faced the former Fleetwood manager, and an outburst to BBC Radio Cumbria made waves in the fan base last month.
Pressley was in charge of Coventry in 2014 when they suffered an embarrassing home defeat to non-league Worcester and was pleased to avoid another ‘banana skin.’
His side may be languishing five points from the bottom of League Two, but a chance to progress in the EFL Trophy on Tuesday at Morecambe, £36,000 worth of prize money in the club’s bank, and £75,000 from TV coverage, could make this a turning point in a so-far tumultuous term.
Dulwich dream dies
It was arguably Gavin Rose’s biggest night during his 10-year stint at Hamlet, and other than Smith’s header and Marvin McCoy’s flashed early effort that skimmed the crossbar, his team failed to make it even more of a memorable night.
Nine league games without a win in the Vanarama National League South will have to be improved on sooner or later if Rose wants to keep things rosy at Champion Hill.
The potential for further big crowds in South London is evidently there, with 2,816 in attendance for last Saturday’s loss at home to Bath.
Back to reality tomorrow night at fellow strugglers Welling in the league, the 7pm draw may be a tough watch for the Dulwich dreamers.