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  1. Huddersfield outplayed and outclassed - but not beaten

    On tuesday night we bowed out of the Carling Cup in its 1st round after a late late goal from Jordan Rhodes secured the win for Huddersfield at Brunton Park. Unfortunately I wasn’t at the game due to holiday, so I’ll leave you with the excellent News & Star match report.

    Carlisle United 0 Huddersfield Town 1: Pantomime directors ought to be punching the number of Joe Garner’s agent into their phones this afternoon.

    Beat the rush, book him now. Today’s top line is that Carlisle United have been cruelly cast out of the Carling Cup, but a trifling fact like that was never going to keep the old Brunton Park agitator away from the front of the stage.

    Described pre-match as a “scallywag” by Greg Abbott, Garner slipped into Huddersfield’s red-and-black change strip and then mounted the Cumbrian turf in full Dennis the Menace mode.

    The 22-year-old rarely got the chance to aim his catapult at Carlisle’s goal, such was the excellence of Ian Harte and James Chester – the night’s desperately unfortunate fall-guy – in United’s defence. Instead, he left his mark in other areas, such as Harte’s head, in a late, elbow-led aerial challenge that ought to have seen Garner dispatched with a red card.

    Only booked by referee David Webb, Garner was then swiftly substituted by his manager, Lee Clark, as the frustration of home supporters started to bubble. Moments later, Chester slipped on the greased turf, allowing Garner’s replacement, Lee Novak, to serve up Jordan Rhodes’ winner at the Warwick Road End.

    How that stung, given the excellence of all of Chester’s earlier work against one of League One’s highest-rolling teams. In a fairer world, Carlisle’s Manchester United loanee would not have lost his footing at such a crucial juncture in this first-round tie. And on a more just evening, Clark would not have been able to send creator Novak onto the pitch when he did, because Garner would have been dismissed before Huddersfield’s boss got the chance.

    For happy endings, seek out the fairy tales section in the library. For exasperation and melodrama, last night had the lot and Garner was your man. Usain Bolt would have approved at the speed with which the striker travelled from returning hero to cartoon pest on his first date back at Brunton Park since he left these parts for Nottingham Forest in 2008.

    Applauded down the tunnel after his warm-up, it took Carlisle’s record signing fully nine minutes to provoke public indignation, when a trademark collapse under a Harte challenge earned the United man a cheap booking and Garner some noisy jeering. What followed was an individual performance at the furthest frontiers of acceptability, which included more dubious plummets and challenges.

    Precisely the sort of performance, it should be said, that was once a guilty pleasure for United fans in the days when Garner was causing mischief in a blue jersey between goals. “Joe lives and dies by the sword – he will be loved by whichever club he plays for and hated by everybody he plays against,” said Abbott, who managed to record his opinion that the frontman should indeed have seen red for his lunge on Harte without chasing an inflammatory headline.

    The risk is that the burlesque of Garner’s return will distract from the more meaningful things we saw last night, so attention should be turned immediately to the skill and willing shown by Abbott’s side against the formidable, cash-splashing Terriers: a gutsy campaign which was only ended by Chester’s regrettable slip and Rhodes’ deadly finish in the 90th minute.

    For the second summer in a row, Clark – fortified by chairman Dean Hoyle’s card shop millions – has filled his shopping trolley with expensive talent in his bid to propel Huddersfield into the Championship. Let the record show that Carlisle’s collection of wise veterans and free transfers upset their rich guests’ certainty to the point that Clark later acknowledged to Abbott that the inferior team won the tie.

    United’s display, which lacked only a dash of penalty-box devil, was in keeping with their efforts in Saturday’s opening league game against Brentford. As their manager abandoned his usual touchilne tracksuit for a suit, the fresh era continued in the opening minute as Gary Madine and Frank Simek conspired to create a half-chance for Francois Zoko which the Ivorian pummeled over the crossbar.

    Huddersfield’s response was brisk in the early stages, with Anthony Pilkington testing Adam Collin with a whipped cross and Scott Arfield curling a shot down the Carlisle keeper’s throat. By now, Garner was coming under the crowd’s fire after Harte was yellow-carded; upfield, Zoko skinned Lee Peltier down the left and was upended by the visiting right-back, who was also cautioned.

    Rhodes then lobbed one makable chance into the side-netting, but otherwise United were growing into the contest. A brace of determined tackles from Tom Taiwo and Craig Curran allowed Paul Thirlwell to drive through an open midfield but then shoot wide. Then Simek tested Alex Smithies with one of umpteen quality right-wing deliveries. A route one hoof from Collin almost put Curran in, before a Harte free-kick led to a blocked blast from James Berrett and then a Madine cross-shot which fizzed agonisingly through the six-yard box.

    Another Rhodes close-shave, as Garner’s attacking accomplice slid wide a Gary Roberts cross, closed the first-half’s entertainment. Then the Blues started the second period in persuasive fashion, as Madine and Zoko made off-target efforts, Taiwo and Curran drew a brace of desperate blocks from Gary Naysmith, Madine forced Smithies into a scampering save from 25 yards and then Chester failed by a fraction to convert a cross from the teenage striker.

    The tie was now fizzing. Rhodes, always a live threat, then stepped forward with two dramatic near-misses: first heading against the bar after Collin had slipped and aimed a clearance straight to Roberts (Sean McDaid then superbly clearing Garner’s follow-up), and then smashing the woodwork from range. We then witnessed a Harte free-kick which whipped just wide, and Matty Robson’s introduction for the wilting Zoko, before the Garner soap opera came to its crescendo with an acrobatic dive near the Blues box and then his 88th-minute challenge on Harte, and his subsequent withdrawal by Clark.

    On jogged Novak, and through went Huddersfield. Little in Chester’s Old Trafford schooling will have prepared the defender for the moment when his feet gave way on the edge of his box, allowing the Terriers substitute to dance forward and feed the raiding Rhodes to score at the death and jettison Carlisle from the cup.

    Link: here.

    21:51 12th Aug 2010

    tags:  carlisle united football club blog transfer news friendlies fixtures results 

  2. Carlisle off to a winning start in League 1

    A spotless surface, more suited to a game of snooker than a football match. Fearless, attacking football, leaving the crowd on the edge of their seats and wanting more! Flowing forward moves which would grace any league in the world. No, I’m not talking about Barcelona, or Spain, or Brazil for that matter, but Carlisle United.

    What a start to the season! The side Greg Abbott has built over the summer got off to an excellent start running out 2-0 winners against a strong Brentford side featuring the likes of Miles Weston, Nicky Forster and Gary Alexander. Many fans were skeptical when Greg Abbott decided to release a large chunk of his playing squad. But are we now to see why? After Abbott’s new signing’s shone today.

    It was excellent to see us avenge the 3-1 to the same opposition this time last season, for young striker Gary Madine to get off the mark, and to see veteran defender Ian Harte stroke away another penalty. All of it was capped off with a great atmosphere at Brunton Park, which has been notibly lacking for a year or two. Another highlight of the day, was the great ovation Ivorian Francois Zoko got when he was substituted, and the Brunton faithful may just have their new hero!

    Carlisle: Collin, Simek, McDaid, Harte, Chester, Thirlwell, Taiwo, Berrett, Zoko, Curran, Madine. Subs: Caig, Bridge-Wilkinson, Murphy, Hurst, Price, Robson, Kane. Subs: Marc Bridge-Wilknison (for Zoko 75).

    Brentford: Moore, Osborne, Woodman, McCracken (Legge 46), Balkestein, O’Connor, Bean, Spillane (Simpson 46), Weston, Alexander, Forster (MacDonald 69). Subs not used: Saunders, Hunt, Wood, Lee.

    Goals: Madine 22, Harte 45

    See the full match report on the News and Star website here.

    23:25 7th Aug 2010

    tags:  carlisle united football club blog transfer news friendlies fixtures results 

  3. Manchester United starlet joins the Blues

    Carlisle United have agreed a loan deal for Manchester United defender James Chester until 31 December.

    Chester, 21, was made captain of the Red Devils’ reserve side in 2008/09 and has made one first-team appearance.

    Carlisle boss Greg Abbott told BBC Radio Cumbria: “He’s a good defender, very mobile and comfortable on the ball as well.

    "He’s certainly got a calmness on the ball that will help us. We’re delighted to have him here."

    Warrington-born Chester impressed in Sunday’s 1-0 friendly defeat of Hibernian and Carlisle were quick to agree terms with United to capture his services.

    Last season Chester spent a month with Championship side Plymouth, making three appearances before injury prematurely ended his loan stay at Home Park.

    He also played a part in Peterborough’s League One promotion campaign in 2008-09, featuring five times for manager Darren Ferguson.

    Chester said: “While I’m under contract at Manchester United there is always that hope to be a first-team player there.

    "To get six months of regular League football at Carlisle then there might be other other opportunities at the end of this."

    21:25 6th Aug 2010

    tags:  carlisle united football club blog transfer news friendlies fixtures results 

  4. Another Friendly Win!

    Carlisle United 1 - 0 Hibernian

    Harte 84

    Another solid pre-season performance saw us overcome the Scottish Premier Division side Hibernian on Sunday. The Blues didn’t play as well as in previous outings but still put in a solid performance and did enough to come out with a victory.

    Hibs came into the game after a dissapointing 3-0 Europa League loss to Slovenian minnows Maribor. In the first half both teams cancelled each other out with most of the ball being kept within the midfield, and it was evident there was no finshing touch from either team. But things got better for Carlisle in the second half, but not after an early scare. Adam Collin let a weak deflected free-kick under his body and into the net, but to his and the crowds relief, the goal was ruled offside.

    Greg Abbott made some substitutions in the second half, including Francois Zoko who was replaced by Jason Price, and was given two standing ovations by the Brunton Park crowd after putting in another sintilating performance.

    The rest of the half consisted of either team keeping possession, but again, know one could apply the finishing touch, until the 84th minute when the dealock was broken. Second half substitute James Berrett delivered a perfect corner to the front post where veteran defender Ian Harte was there to nod home and seal the win for United.

    All in all, another good run out for the side and the signs are mostly positive going inot this weekends opener with Brentford.

    Carlisle United: Collin, Simek, McDaid (Murphy 60), Chester, Harte, Thirlwell (Berrett 46), Taiwo, Robson, Hurst (Curran 46), Zoko (Bridge-Wilkinson 68), Madine (Price 60). Subs not used: Kavanagh, Kane, Cook, Gillespie, Bowman, Caig.

    Hibernian: Brown (Smith 60), Hart (Thicot 63), Murray (Stevenson 63), Hogg (Hanlon 46), Stephens, De Graaf (McBride 60), Galbraith (Currie 76), Rankin (Wotherspoon 60), Riordan, Stokes, Nish (Miller 60).

    Ref: Graham Salisbury (Lancs)

    Crowd: 3,034

    19:34 4th Aug 2010

    tags:  carlisle united football club blog transfer news friendlies fixtures results 

  5. Air of mystery at Brunton Park!

    Today an update from the club has left a sense of both excitement and curiosity within Carlisle United fans. The club announced that there will be one player from a ‘top’ Premier League club, with the possibility of a second.

    But manager Greg Abbott isn’t giving much away, this is what he had to say today:

    "We’ve spent a lot of time on the phone with one of the top Premier League clubs and we are delighted with how it has gone. Out of courtesy we won’t name names just yet, as there is still a little bit of work to do, but we should be in a position to say more ahead of kick off tomorrow."

    United Director John Nixon added this:

    "We’re delighted to be able to report that it looks like all of the hard work has paid off. We will definitely have one and possibly even two players from a Premier League team in our squad tomorrow. It’s good news for us as we continue to work towards the first game of the season next weekend."

    So this leaves fans thinking? Who are the player/s in question. Some may take a bit of a guess and say Adam Clayton has finally decided that he just can’t make it into Manchester City’s star-studded midfield line-up and has decided to come back and help Carlisle United. Or could it be a youngster from one of the ‘Big 4’, brought in to fill the gaps in the United squad. I’ll leave you to your speculation, and we’ll find out who these mysterious figures are tomorrow!

    15:55 31st Jul 2010

    tags:  carlisle united football club blog transfer news friendlies fixtures results 

  6. Zoko signing complete!

    On this fairly dreery Thursday afternoon, I’m pleased to announce that yesterday we signed Francoise Zoko on the one-year-deal, possibly extended if all goes well. I applaud Greg Abbott for getting this deal signed and done with, as throughout pre-season, Zoko has showed he has the skill and work ethic needed to become a League 1 player. In our first friendly against Kendal, fans were very impressed with his touch, pace, power and unselfish style of play - dare I say it - similar to that of Vincent Pericard. He capped off his excellent 45 minutes against Kendal with a goal, which was an ice-cool finish after he was played through and 1-on-1 with the ‘keeper.

    In his second game for the club, against Workington Reds, he wasn’t as effective as in his first game, but still provided to be a useful option up front. His pace, deft touches and ability to hold the ball up was evident again.

    His third match for United was the home friendly against Newcastle, where he played the second half. He again wasn’t as effective as at Kendal but put in another steady shift, with a big round of applause from the Paddock faithful.

    In the next match against Darlington at the Darlo Arena, Zoko put in another smashing performance in an attacking midfield role. He won the penalty which Ian Harte took to put United 1-0 up, and played a major part in Carlisle’s domination of the Blue Square Bet Premier side.

    I’m also very pleased to say that just today, Zoko won another penalty against Middlesborough today in a behind-closed-doors friendly, and converted it himself, his first goal as a Carlisle United played after signing yesterday.

    I have high hopes for this lad, he looks to have everything a striker could want, and I just hope he can deliver, like Pericard did, those few monthes ago.

    23:11 29th Jul 2010

    tags:  carlisle united football club blog transfer news friendlies fixtures results 

  7. Friendlies coming thick & fast!

    Gosh, have you ever had the feeling that time’s just not on your side? Well, that’s exactly how I feel, and spending time typing away on my computer is just not an option at the moment. So when my hectic schedual has slowed down, the progress of this blog will, speeed up!

    Since my last post, there’s been three pre-season friendlies. Firstly we played Newcastle at Brunton Park. First half went very well, I was really enoying it, we could have been one-nil up too through Gary Madine. Then, as we went into the second half, it all seemed to go to pot, and Newcastle won the game comfortably 3-0. Although it was our first pre-season loss, the 7000 plus crowd will have brought in some good money for the club.

    Carlisle United 0 - 3 Newcastle United

                                     Best 47, Ranger 64, Vuckic 74

    United: Collin (Caig 71), Simek (Kane 64), Murphy (Gibson 64), M’voto (Wood 74), Harte (Swinglehurst 85), Thirlwell (Cregg 46), Taiwo (Hurst 46), Berrett, Bridge-Wilkinson (Robson 46), Curran (Zoko 46), Madine (Price 46).

    Newcastle: (First half): Harper, Tavernier, Enrique, Coloccini, Williamson, Smith, Nolan, LuaLua, Inman, Carroll, Lovenkrands. (Second half): Krul, Perch, R Taylor, S Taylor (Henderson 81), Ferguson, Routledge, Guthrie, Barton, Vuckic, Ranger, Best. Subs: McLaughlin

    Crowd: 7,412

    Secondly, we played Darlington in a Friday night fixture away at the Darlington Arena. Another very good performance from United, playing the new ‘diamond’ midfield formation with Thirlwell just infront of the defense, Taiwo and Berrett on the left and right, with Bridge-Wilkinson at the ‘tip’ of the diamond. This worked well, and Carlisle played a very slick passing game on what was a brilliant playing surface and ran out worthy 3-0 winners. For the first goal, Francoise Zoko was felled in the area and Ian Harte duly stepped up to conver tthe spot kick. It was also great to see young stiker Ryan Bowman score a terrific curling shot and youngster Andy Cook to get on the scoresheet.

    Darlington 0 - 3 Carlisle United

                               Harte (17, pen), Bowman, 72), Cook (90)

    Darlington: Russell, Arnison (Clarke, 46), Werling, Chandler (Stephenson, 46), Brough (Cornforth, 67), Miller (Burn, 82), Hatch (Wright, 46), Hone, Smith (Main, 46), Gray, McReady.

    Carlisle United: Collin, Kane, McDaid, Long, Harte (Murphy, 46), Thirlwell, (Kavanagh, 70) Berrett (Bridge-Wilkinson, 46), Zoko (Bowman, 61), Taiwo, Madine (Price, 46), Curran (Cook, 83), subs (not used): Hurst.

    Crowd: TBA.

    Finally, tonight we played Scottish First Division side Falkirk away at the Falkirk Stadium. A fairly boring game was lightened by the skills of former-Rochdale man Higginbotham as he chipped in with a goal. The win was denied by Andy Cook, who headed home from 6 yards late on.

    Falkirk 1 - 1 Carlisle United

    Higginbotham      Cook

    Falkirk: Olejnik, Marr, Twaddle, McLean, Scobbie, O’Brien, Higginbotham, Millar, Stewart, McLeish and Compton, subs: Khalis, Duffie, Bloom, Mitchell, Barclay, Bonar, Alston, Fulton and Trialist.

    Carlisle United: Collin, Simek, McDaid, Bridge-Wilkinson, Long, Thirlwell, Taiwo, Harte, Curran, Madine and Berrett, subs: Cook, Gillespie, McKenna, Hutton and Swinglehurst.

    Crowd: 1060

    23:01 28th Jul 2010

    tags:  carlisle united football club blog transfer news friendlies fixtures results 

  8. Hellos and Goodbyes!

    There’s been  a few ins and outs at Brunton Park since our last update. A report from the 0-3 friendly loss to Newcastle should follow soon, but today I’m bring you up to date with the goings on.

    Firstly, two new trialist have joined the squad, Craig Walsh and Gary Shaw both joined up with the Blues squad this week.

    Previous trialist Francois Zoko has also been invited to train with the squad again at their training camp in Leicestershire, after impressing in his 3 trial games.

    Unfortunately, Billy Gibson, Jake Simpson, Patrick Cregg and Nick Wood have been told they wont be a getting a contract and should try their luck elsewhere.

    Goalkeeper coach Tony Caig has now become a United player after he was signed from non-league side Workington Reds. It’s believed he’ll be used primerily as back-up for Adam Collin.

    There is also another deal which hasn’t been tied up yet. This is the probable loan signing of Jean-Yves M’Voto from Sunderland. M’Voto joined the Black Cats from Paris Saint-Germain but has yet to play for them. The tall centre-back impressed in the friendly against Newcastle last saturday and M’Voto is assessing his options after being told Carlisle are interesting in taking him on loan to replace the injured Danny Livesey.

    12:01 22nd Jul 2010

    tags:  carlisle united football club blog transfer news friendlies fixtures results 

  9. Workington 0 - 1 Carlisle

    Workington 0 - 1 Carlisle United


    Again, I didn’t have the time to go to the game last night due to work committments, and I apologise again. So here is the News & Star report of the game which is again excellent:

    Workington Reds 0 Carlisle United 1: Carlisle United’s young contenders came to the fore on the night one of Cumbria’s enduring football stalwarts took his leave of the game.

    Carlisle action photo Frank Simek, left, holds off Workington’s Stphen Hindmarch

    A few minutes after 19-year-old Nick Wood had headed the game’s solitary goal for Greg Abbott’s experimental Blues side, a guard of honour formed for Tony Hopper, the Workington midfielder whose cameo appearance yesterday was his last for the west Cumbrian club.

    Hopper, the former ‘Brunton Babe’ who departed to a generous ovation from the soaked Borough Park audience, knows how it is to be striving through the ranks at United: a task now faced by the likes of Wood, the former Sheffield Wednesday defender who was whisked up to Cumbria for a trial spell on Monday and grabbed his first opportunity with conviction.

    His 88th minute clincher, from a far-post cross from another impressive trialist, Patrick Cregg, came towards the end of a contest which raised the competitive demands made of United this pre-season, and revealed Darren Edmondson’s Blue Square North aspirants to be in sprightly mood as they prepare for their own campaign.

    This Carlisle team gave way to a flurry of substitutions in the second half and by the end a host of teenagers had passed across Abbott’s eyes under the summer rain. Gary Madine, Ryan Bowman, Mark Gillespie, Andy Cook and Steven Swinglehurst, from the club’s own ranks, and Wood, Billy Gibson and Jake Simpson from a quintet of trialists were given their head against a Reds team for whom Kyle May, the former United and Gretna centre-half, was a tower of experience and authority.

    Edmondson’s starting line-up contained fully six men who have spent time with Carlisle, and a further two among the substitutes: enough to add a dash of spice to a game Abbott insisted was about improving his players’ conditioning rather than achieving local bragging rights.

    The opportunity to view the hitherto impressive trialist striker Francois Zoko against a better standard of defender than was possible at Kendal last Friday was another sub-plot that grabbed the attention.

    The Ivorian shone more sporadically here than on his debut outing but still displayed enough bursts of pace and quality to warrant further examination by Abbott. Paired with Madine, who impressed in the air and with his general sharpness, Zoko waged a demanding battle against May and Lee Andrews and may now be more in tune with the grinding demands of the English game.

    Phil McLuckie, Reds’ bustling midfielder, headed the game’s first chance at Adam Collin, while James Berrett and Madine took unsuccessful aim for the Blues early on. Sean McDaid then threw himself at a Jonny Wright drive, while ex-United youngster Shaun Vipond curled a 20-yarder narrowly wide as Workington grew into the game.

    Gibson, the former Watford winger, repeatedly displayed pace and directness down his left flank but the inconsistency of his final ball drew critical comment from Abbott. At the other end, a foul by Gibson on Conor Tinnion handed Wright a free-kick chance which Collin sharply repelled.

    The half closed with a superb sliding challenge from May to deny the raiding Zoko, and then a fine tip-over from Aaran Taylor as Madine met a fine cross from Simpson, who was replaced at half-time as the Blues switched to a midfield ‘diamond’.

    The second period started apace, as Wright hunted down a chance after indecision between Ian Harte and Collin, and curled a shot against the bar from the left. Zoko, clearly tiring, was then replaced by Cook, who drew a save from Taylor with a drilled attempt from the left.

    Hopper entered to acclaim for the last 15 minutes and the game remained at a decent tempo until United earned a corner down the right, Marc Bridge-Wilkinson played it short and a deep cross from the increasingly influential midfielder Cregg was attacked by Wood – on for Harte – who headed freely home at the back post to win the game for the Blues.

    United’s defenders can consider themselves having been given a high-energy workout by Reds’ strong-running forwards, of which Wright was the pick, while across the pitch Edmondson’s team performed encouragingly against a side who have designs on League One’s top half in 2010/11.

    That Hopper will himself play no part in Workington’s own league campaign will be a source of regret in these parts, a sentiment that came through strongly as the 34-year-old jogged down Borough Park’s tunnel for the final time and was applauded on his way by red and blue loyalists.

    That mutual respect has been earned over a career of solid service: a healthy example to the young hopefuls in both camps last night who are striving to leave their own impression on the game.

    Workington: Aaran Taylor, Hewson (Langford 73), Rowntree (White 73), May, Andrews, Vipond (Hopper 76), McLuckie (Arnison 76), Tinnion (Colulo 68), Hindmarch, J Wright (Ruttledge 73), Tymon (Aaron Taylor 55).

    United: Collin, Simek (Kane 46), McDaid (Swinglehurst 76), Murphy (Kavanagh 74), Harte (Wood 70), Simpson (Bridge-Wilkinson 46), Gibson (Taiwo 46), Cregg, Berrett (Thirlwell 46), Zoko (Cook 64), Madine (Bowman 46). Not used: Robson, Hurst, Curran.

    Goal: Wood 88

    Ref: Lee Metcalfe

    Crowd: 676

    Article on the News and Star website here.

    18:32 14th Jul 2010

    tags:  carlisle united football club blog transfer news friendlies fixtures results 

  10. Kendal Friendly Match Report

    Kendal Town 1 - 4 Carlisle United

    Taylor                                Madine




    As I missed the first 15 minutes or so of this match, I’m not going to write a personal match report. Instead I’ll leave you with an excellent summary of the game from the News & Star:

    Kendal 1 Carlisle United 4: Carlisle United drew the maximum value from their first pre-season loosener, offering manager Greg Abbott plenty of encouragement with the League One kick-off now less than a month away.

    The bright second-half performance of Ivorian trialist Francois Zoko at Kendal’s Lakeland Radio Stadium was the evening’s top talking point, but Abbott will have been impressed with the general sharpness and appetite of his troops.

    Along with Zoko, three of Abbott’s strikers registered their first goals of the July preparations in the south Cumbrian rain – Gary Madine, Jason Price and Craig Curran, the latter claiming his first goal for United.

    Trialist winger Billy Gibson also shone in the first 45 minutes, while new recruits Sean McDaid, Frank Simek and James Berrett showed up well on their debuts against Lee Ashcroft’s Unibond Premier side.

    It was enough temporarily to lift the gloom that had descended with news of Danny Livesey’s groin injury, which will sideline the influential centre-half for around two months. United’s paucity of fit centre-halves is now such that midfielders Paul Thirlwell and Graham Kavanagh had to deputise in the back four last night.

    That neither was unduly extended says enough about Carlisle’s superiority against their non-league hosts. After a pleasingly competitive tone was set in the early minutes, with United’s Ian Harte and Kendal’s Paul Osborne involved in strong challenges, both sides swapped token chances before Madine took the Blues’ opening goal of pre-season.

    Abbott, watching from the stand, will have approved of the quick-thinking displayed in the 15th minute by Gibson, who scented a short-corner opportunity, sped across to receive the ball from Kevan Hurst and laid it back to Marc Bridge-Wilkinson. When the midfielder’s shot rebounded off the home goalkeeper David Newnes, the alert Madine pounced to score.

    Curran, an energetic presence in United’s attack, then ought to have made it two when he intercepted a backpass, but George Melling was able to clear the striker’s weak shot. Later, as Carlisle dominated, Madine drew a fine, diving save from Newnes and then saw another goalbound header bounce off the unsuspecting Curran.

    Eventually, the ex-Tranmere man made a more decisive contribution. After a spell of careful Carlisle possession, Bridge-Wilkinson threaded Curran through to the right of goal and the summer signing clipped his scoring shot across Newnes.

    After a first half also notable for right-back Simek’s willingness to contribute in attack, Berrett’s calmness in possession, Bridge-Wilkinson’s creativity, Gibson’s willingness to run at his man and young Steven Swinglehurst’s diligence at left-back, Abbott introduced a fresh 11 players for the second half as Zoko joined the fray along with fellow trialists Cregg and Simpson, the latter watched by his father, Paul.

    After an unremarkable spell, notable for a few pacy Matty Robson forays and some strong line-leading from Price, Zoko duly illuminated the south Cumbrian venue with a classy 73rd minute goal.

    Simpson, industrious down the right, cut the ball inside to Tom Taiwo, whose pass from midfield was expertly dummied by Price and snaffled by Zoko, whose run took him beyond the Kendal back line and whose finish with the outside of his right foot was a study in conviction.

    Three minutes on, and another quality contribution from the Ivorian: Zoko revealing some sharp skill to change direction before pinging a fine ball out to Robson, whose low cross was dispatched by Price from close range.

    Alex Taylor, with a deflected drive that Mark Gillespie just failed to keep out, earned Ashcroft’s men a consolation goal, while Taiwo, Zoko and Tony Kane might have increased Carlisle’s victory margin before the close.

    Livesey, a frustrated observer from the stand, would have relished this cobweb-scattering contest. For Abbott and the rest of his reshaped squad, the first of many steps towards August 7 was taken with assurance.

    Kendal: Newnes (Gardner 64), Walmsley, Warburton (Grundy 46), Melling (Fleming 61), Winters, Osbourne, Mulvaney (Maghan 64), Kilford (Tucker 46), Foster, Wright (Taylor 64), Wisdom.

    Goal: Taylor 79

    United (first half): Collin, Simek, Swinglehurst, Harte, Thirlwell, Berrett, Bridge-Wilkinson, Gibson, Hurst, Madine, Curran.

    United (second half): Gillespie, Kane, McDaid, Murphy, Kavanagh, Cregg, Taiwo, Robson, Simpson, Price, Zoko. Subs not used: Bowman, Cook.

    Goals: Madine 15, Curran 39, Zoko 73, Price 76

    Crowd: 809

    Ref: Alan Young

    Original article on the News & Star website here.

    08:00 12th Jul 2010

    tags:  carlisle united football club blog transfer news friendlies fixtures results