New Face, Same Problems // Carlisle United F.C. – November

Gillingham 1-0 Carlisle United:

A frustrating game for us, made all the worse by the titanic journey home with nothing to show for our efforts.

Referee, Charles Breakspear took centre stage in this game after turning down, what looked like a clear penalty after a Matty Robson shot from eight yards was seemingly handled by Gills defender, Michael Harriman. As is the norm with Carlisle, we again shot ourselves in the foot when Danny Livesey was beaten to the ball by Danny Hollands. Livesey’s subsequent touch on the midfielder’s heel was enough to send him down in the box. The prolific, Danny Kedwell stepped up and fired the ball into the net.

Two sending-offs in quick succession occurred in a period of the game, with Carlisle just starting to assert themselves, after going a goal behind. A flick of the leg in an opponent’s direction by Lee Miller was enough to warrant a red card for the Scotsman, another blot on what has been a hugely disappointing season so far for the big man.

Gillingham’s Leon Legge’s second booking, for arriving late on David Amoo, evened up the numbers but Carlisle still couldn’t find a way through, another disappointing defeat for the Blues.

Performance Rating: Grade C; it’s all fine and dandy playing well but if the results aren’t there to match the performance then it makes no difference. Individual errors again cost us the points against a side that are no better than us – poor.

Carlisle United 2-2 Wolverhampton Wanderers:

In a rearranged fixture and the first time the two clubs have met since the late 80’s, it was the turn of this years ‘big club’ in the division to visit Fortress Brunton and as we have done in the past, we raised our performance ten-fold.

After two promising chances in the opening stages for the home-side, Wolves dampened the spirits of everyone, including those of the birthday boy (ME), with their first attack of the game. Bakary Sako, who showed he should be playing way above this level, found his way towards the goal clear and unleashed a thunderbolt into the far corner which left Mark Gillespie with no chance, I doubt he even saw it!

The exotically named, Prince Buaben restored parity to the game when he broke from midfield and with several Wolves defenders’ shepherding him towards the corner flag, pirouetted on the ball and hit a curling shot, which took a deflection, across the Wolves keeper and into the top corner.

Wolves retook the lead when Leigh Griffiths’s header struck the post before agonisingly crossing the line. Carlisle again equalised in the 53rd minute when Liam Noble confidently scored from a penalty, following a trip on the lively Buaben.

Performance Rating: Grade B; good battling performance against one of the big sides in the division with players, including Kevin Doyle, who have a decent amount of Premier League experience.

Boreham Wood 0-0 Carlisle United – F.A Cup First Round:

An awful performance against the Skrill Conference South side – we should be putting these teams away.

Performance Rating: Grade D; despite a few good chances in the game we allowed Boreham Wood to match us throughout and give us a few scares. Less said about this the better!

Fleetwood Town 2-0 Carlisle United – Johnstone’s Paint Trophy, Northern Section Quarter Final:

In a tournament where we hold the record for final appearances, times lost and times won, you would expect us to put a bit of heart into the game…maybe not.

The game was televised live on Sky Sports and we made an absolute embarrassment of ourselves; I am still angry from the performance. We couldn’t string two passes together and resorted to long, hopeless balls into the channels – it was nothing short of disastrous.

To give Fleetwood some credit, they played with style, passed the ball exceptionally well and made us work for possession. Antoni Sarcevic tore us apart and capped off his MOTM performance with a lovely lobbed finish over Fleming when running through on goal.

Performance Rating: Grade E; can’t remember the last time I was truly embarrassed to be a Carlisle United fan…Oh yeah, last time we were on Sky. T.V cameras STAY AWAY!

Carlisle United 1-1 Crawley Town:

We responded well after two poor results in a row with an energetic display against fellow strugglers, Crawley.

We took the lead in the 47th minute when a Crawley player clumsily fouled on-loan defender Max Ehmer in the box, and the ref duly awarded us with a penalty. Liam Noble stepped up and dispatched his second penalty in four games.

However, life is cruel and in the 88th minute, on-loan goalkeeper, Ben Amos allowed Crawley substitute Billy Jones’s shot to escape his grasp and hit the back of the net. It was doubly disappointing as before that, Amos had been outstanding.

Performance Rating: Grade C; better, but still no three points. Our play isn’t fluent either, we look very robotic and amateurish with the ball at our feet, which is a shame as we have one of the most expansive and best pitches in England. We need to start using it.

Carlisle United 2-1 Boreham Wood – F.A. Cup First Round Replay:

A shocking display, however, we are in the next round and that’s all that matters. A late goal from Mark Beck secured us safe passage into the second round.

The game was marred by ugly scenes at the end when both sides clashed on the pitch with the animosity spilling over into the dressing rooms. A number of Boreham Wood players caused damage and then released a hilarious statement stating otherwise.

Performance Rating: Grade C; an awful performance, but a win, against a horrible little club. Their attitude and behaviour in both legs was appalling and I hope the two clubs never have to meet again.

Carlisle United 0-0 Rotherham:

Rotherham were the brighter of the two teams in the game but in Carlisle’s current form, this game was simply about not getting beat and we definitely played like that was our game plan!

Conor Townsend getting himself sent off didn’t help our cause but the on-loan Hull man has been fantastic since he joined us, and I hope he returns when the window reopens in January.

In the end we could have snatched it when a Lee Miller shot was saved by former United stopper, Adam Collin.

Performance Rating: Grade C; we played for a draw (which I hate to see) and a draw is what we got, so I can’t be too critical. Would have been nice for us to try asserting ourselves on the game more but a point is a point.

Carlisle United 2-1 Crewe Alexandra:

Two goals in first-half stoppage time gave us a great lead to take into half-time.

Firstly, David Symington’s volley got the merest of touches by Sean O’Hanlon to divert it past on-loan Fulham goalkeeper, Neil Etheridge. Only a minute later, Crewe fell asleep on the job and a long ball was headed on by Lee Miller which found Matty Robson with a clean run on goal and he duly finished the move off.

In the second-half, we didn’t come out and look for the killer goal like we should have and we allowed Crewe back into the game. In the 90th minute, the Railwaymen got a goal back from a corner when Harry Davis rose highest to nod home. Straight from the resulting kick-off, Crewe had another chance only this time, Amos put the ball out for a corner which nothing came from.

Performance Rating: Grade C; great first-half performance overshadowed by a poor second-half. We almost threw away a two-goal lead right at the death but just managed to hold on. An uplifting three points during a difficult month for the club.

Swindon Town 3-1 Carlisle United:

A game in which not many expected us to come away with anything, but it was a disappointing defeat all the same.

Keeping up with the game via Twitter, everything was Swindon attack this, Swindon attack that and so it was no surprise when they took the lead through Massimo Luongo. We equalised in the 68th minute but were only on equal terms for three minutes, after Pascal Chimbonda felled Alex Pritchard who dusted himself off to curl the ball into the net, giving Amos no chance.

Following the introduction of loanees Tom Lawrence and Josh Morris we threatened more but were undone in the 90th minute when substitute Danny N’Guessan notched for the home-side with his first and only touch of the game after coming off the bench.

Performance Rating: Grade D; we didn’t threaten until the later stages and were put under pressure constantly by Swindon’s attacking play. Like I said, it wasn’t a game we expected much of but still a poor showing.

Overall Rating: Grade D; a poor month – Kavanagh’s appointment briefly lifted performances but we were soon back into the same routine. It is so frustrating going into games and looking for the draw or knowing we’re going to get beat, when only three or four years ago we were playing with no fear and sitting high up the table, battling against and beating teams with miles more resources than us.

It is a worrying period for the club both on and off the pitch, for little clubs it will always be up and down and I pray we see this through and come out a lot stronger.

 Jak Harris

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