Pitchside Issue Nine

In this week’s show we discuss the recent sackings at WBA and Spurs, plus the usual chit-chat! 🙂

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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

New faces and tough tests // Carlisle United – October

Shrewsbury Town 2-2 Carlisle United

October started with an away draw to Shrewsbury Town, Carlisle trailed from the 40th minute thanks to a Tom Bradshaw strike which came from constant Shrewsbury pressure that up until then Carlisle had defended well against.

In the 86th minute David Amoo struck Carlisle’s equaliser when he latched onto a loose ball at the back post and thumped the ball into the roof of the net.

With a new lease of life in them, Carlisle swept forward looking for a second which duly arrived thanks to the head of Sean O’Hanlon leaping to meet a James Berrett corner however only seconds later Shrewsbury grabbed a leveller when a hopeful ball forward got the slightest of touches which left McSweeney and O’Hanlon stuck in no man’s land which allowed Paul Parry with a clear run on goal and he duly stuck the ball under Gillespie into the net.

Performance Rating: Grade B; To be trailing until the last 10 minutes to grab a point would usually be a good result but I can’t help but be frustrated with the way we took control of the game only to then throw it away right at the death.

Oldham Athletic 1-0 Carlisle United

The next league game was again away from home, this time to Oldham. The game was settled by a disputed penalty which was won and scored by Adam Rooney following a tug of the shirt by O’Hanlon.

This was a game many had expected us to do well in due to the new found positive mood around the club following the appointment of Graham Kavanagh as manager on a full time basis however it wasn’t to be, Carlisle played well and at times the Oldham goal led a charmed life but we just couldn’t find a way through and Oldham deserve credit for the way they defended.

Performance Rating: Grade C; We can play as well as you like but without points on the board performances count for nothing, we played some good stuff and could have scored two/three but in the end we came away with nothing.

Milton Keynes Dons 0-1 Carlisle United

Three days later on the Tuesday, Carlisle made the long trip down to Milton Keynes for their third away game on the bounce. We have a history of late goals against Wimbledon MK Dons with three of our last five goals against them coming after the 80th minute, all to take points off them.

The goal came from a face many Dons will recognise with Penrith-born Lewis Guy grabbing the Cumbrian’s solitary goal in a 1-0 on his return to his former club, the last goal he scored in this fixture was for MK, in a 1-0 victory for the Dons.

Performance Rating: Grade A; Matched and probably bettered a team with much better facilities and ability to recruit top players for this league, we showed what we can do when the team performs as a whole. Highly satisfying victory.

Here’s a link to the goal, I doubt we’ll see a more acrobatic one from us all season! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CYTP8jm-gJE

Carlisle United 2-4 Bristol City

Our only home game of the month was against bottom club Bristol City, a team with players of a much higher quality than their league position would suggest and unfortunately they showed their true potential in their 4-2 victory.

Carlisle started the brighter of the two teams and finally took the lead when O’Hanlon grabbed his second in four league games when he met a corner flush on and hammered the ball off his forehead beyond the City keeper.

A hopeful long ball was kept alive by Wagstaff in the corner and his cross found an unmarked Emmanuell-Thomas on the penalty spot who headed the ball back across goal giving Gillespie no chance.

Bristol took the lead moments later when Potts hesitated on the ball and lost possession to Bobby Reid who fed the ball to Thomas, one great touch later the ball was in the back of the net again, 1-2.

City extended their lead to two goals when Thomas, this time provider, played the ball wide to Wagstaff who brought the ball under control before unleashing a thunderous volley across Gillespie’s goal which again left the young stopper with no chance.

Carlisle clawed a goal back on 79 minutes when a poor clearance from Williams allowed Noble the space on the edge of the area to guide a slightly scuffed left footed volley just inside the far post to breathe new life into Carlisle’s comeback.

However we again were the masters of our downfall as we again conceded possession cheaply which allowed Emmanuell-Thomas space on the ball, he rode a challenge from Chimbonda before coolly sliding the ball under the keepers dive to grab a deserved hat-tick.

Performance Rating: Grade C; Started brightly but three individual errors cost us the game, nothing more to it.

Overall Rating: Grade C; October wasn’t the greatest month for Carlisle with dropped points in three of the four games with the slightly unexpected away win to MK Dons being the only game we took maximum return from.

Jak Harris