ACCRINGTON Stanley's two keepers have made sure John Coleman has a big headache.
While Ian Dunbavin has been performing heroics week in week out in League Two, Rob Elliot firmly put himself back in the frame saving three successive penalties against League One side Carlisle in the Johnstone's Paints Trophy Round One on Tuesday night.
The Charlton loanee, while admitting his kicking was off in the first half, was the Reds hero as he helped Accrington celebrate a shoot-out win after last month's disaster in the Carling Cup at Watford. Then, the stopper - who saved six spot kicks last season - had come on just for the penalties but the Hornets won.
"I was disappointed against Watford and found it hard coming on for the penalties as I had only been back from injury for four days," said the 20-year-old. "It was hard on Bavs too as he was my Man of the Match.
"But now I feel sharp and fit and it is just nice to get 90 minutes under my belt. Hopefully I can challenge Bavs and I have got to make sure I make it a hard choice for the gaffer.
"In training, I try to be better than Bavs just as he will try to be better than me and Andy Dibble gets the best out of both of us so it is good for the club as a whole. Bavs has been brilliant though.
"But I was glad to have my chance on Tuesday. For some reason, I do have a knack of saving penalties. To be fair, the first three weren't the best and the fourth one was a good one.
"As a keeper you can't really lose at penalties but we had decided that, after Watford, we were going to take them properly and not regret any of them."
The shoot-out was a lively ending after the two sides couldn't be separated in normal time.
Both had made changes but played the six regular players they had to under the cup rules.
Elliot got a run out, as did Phil Edwards, Andy Mangan, Joel Byrom and Sean Doherty with Paul Mullin, Peter Cavanagh and Ian Dunbavin rested.
League One promotion chasers Carlisle also rested some of their players - but striker Glenn Murray started, who is said to be a Stanley target.
The Cumbrian side had almost all the chances in the first half with the home side limited and it was made worse for the Reds when centre half Michael Welch hobbled off with a strain.
Frenchman Julian N'Da came on and took a bit to settle but did soon find his feet.
However, United seized control four minutes before half-time when Zigor Aranalde fired a cross in from the left and it was easy for unmarked Derek Holmes to direct into the net from six yards out.
But Stanley were soon back on level terms after the restart when a dangerous Sean Doherty corner was headed home by Carlisle defender Simon Grand.
Both goalkeepers were relatively quiet after that with the battle being played out in midfield and neither side dominating.
Then, in the last ten minutes, Mangan's curling shot was well caught by goalie Anthony Williams and Carlisle followed it with an all-out assault.
Stephen Hindmarch fired just wide from 20 yards, Holmes headed over at the far post from two yards and the goalscorer then fired just over with one minute to spare. Kevin Gall also had a shot which came off Leam Richardson's legs.
"You can see our problem - we just can't score," said United boss Neil MacDonald with top scorer Karl Hawley out injured.
And so, with no extra-time, it went to sudden death - step forward Elliot.
The goalie kept out Chris Lumsdon's first spot kick and then Ian Craney held his nerve to make it 1-0 to the Reds. Elliot then dived low to keep out Holmes and Stanley's David Brown was denied by Williams.
For the third, Elliot kept out Paul Thirlwell while Andy Todd fired home. Paul Arnison did make one count for Carlisle but when Doherty's went in, it was all over.
"Rob had an aura about him that nothing would get past him," said Coleman. "He was very confident and more on his toes than he was against Watford.
"All the lads showed spirit as it was hard for those who came in when they haven't played a lot and they had to come in all at once.
"But I have a strong squad and it is nice to get through to the next round. I always fancy us to beat anyone at home."
l STANLEY face Blackpool in the next round, on Tuesday 31 October, at home.
STANLEY: Elliot, Edwards, Rchardson, Williams, Welch (N'Da 32), Todd, Craney, Byrom (Harris 56), Doherty, Mangan, Boco (Brown 46). Not used: Durboureau, Bains.