Adam Collin's late blunder costs Carlisle Utd at Stevenage
Published at 10:57, Monday, 20 August 2012
Stevenage 1 Carlisle United 1: Nowhere in the grand plan to turn Carlisle United into achievers in 2012/13 was a moment where their best player would be on the receiving end of a “crude” challenge and forced to depart the Blues’ first league game wearing a protective boot.
That sound in the 39th minute on Saturday was a mass intaking of breath. The idea this season is to make United less reliant on Lee Miller’s robustness but nobody wanted the new schemes to be tested this early.
“Crude” was one of Abbott’s chosen words to describe the tackle made by Stevenage’s Greg Tansey which left Miller rolling on the hot grass in pain. “Awful” was another.
The Blues’ No14 limped through the next 18 minutes of combat but then finally called it a day, just before the hour mark.
The good news is that United coped better in this first examination of their squad depth than they did during the high-pressured run-in last spring (when Miller was out with a groin injury), scoring a smart goal in the striker’s absence and taking last year’s play-off semi-finalists to within a few minutes of defeat.
And the bad news may not be all that bad, if Miller’s ankle is found to have survived serious damage when it is inspected at Brunton Park today.
But evidence of the big man’s importance was all around the Lamex Stadium as he gingerly boarded the team coach.
Miller’s fate featured in most interviews with Carlisle personnel as they departed from this baking hot Hertfordshire arena with one point more than they managed here in April, when the promotion drive swerved off the road. The most notable verbal contribution was from Abbott, who was clearly piqued at Tansey’s heavy slide on United’s talisman.
“He [Tansey] has come and smashed him through, similar to the Ben Marshall one at Wembley,” said the manager, invoking one of the worst collisions in recent Cumbrian memory: Marshall’s broken leg, inflicted by Brentford’s Adam Reed, in the 2011 Johnstone’s Paint Trophy final.
Abbott went on to qualify his criticism of Tansey by adding that the home player “didn’t mean” to hurt Miller, which is fair enough, but not always the point when discussing tackles of a dangerous nature.
Carlisle have been dealt enough poor cards with injuries to flair players in recent seasons for them to take another one lying down. First there was Marshall and then there was Rory Loy, cut down at Preston on Boxing Day and still to reappear, after a broken leg.
Topically, the man responsible for that latter challenge – another who “didn’t mean it” – reappeared on United’s schedule here. There is clearly no appetite for a grudge among Carlisle’s fanbase towards David Gray but a few boos lingered noticeably in the air when the Stevenage right-back went in strongly (but fairly) on Alessio Bugno, moments after Miller had been subbed.
This might easily have been an awkward reunion but Gray’s impact on the game was moderate, as a decent contest finally broke out in the closing half-hour after plenty of inadequate toil under the sweltering sun. Carlisle struck first, when Miller’s replacement, Danny Cadamarteri, offered his first moment of craft for his new club, slipping Matty Robson past the offside line for the winger to score his second goal in eight days.
All was going perfectly well from here, until the 88th minute, when Adam Collin dumped a shot from Lucas Akins at the feet of another home sub, Robin Shroot, whose sliding equaliser trimmed United’s returns from a ground where Stevenage have now gone 16 games without losing.
And so the journey begins again: with something positive, a little setback and something else to frown about until the next injury bulletin. Cadamarteri’s arrival as creator and line-leader was among the features that put Abbott in cheerier mood. “He wasn’t far off being our man-of-the-match,” said the manager of Miller’s experienced replacement.
Robson’s finishing is another early treat this season but this wasn’t a game liberal with target-practice opportunities. The 30-degree heat might have contributed to the struggle for flow, while both teams are still in adjustment mode after summer squad changes.
While United have lost and added a few since May, Stevenage have been forced to wave off many of the names forever associated with their muscular rise from non-league. Seven Boro starters were new faces and discord reared its head in the first minute when goalkeeper Chris Day, one of the old faithfuls, sliced his first clearance out of play.
Carlisle, for whom Paul Thirlwell replaced Chris Chantler in midfield, started briskly, forcing a series of corners and spreading play, often to JP McGovern, in space on the right. From one passing malfunction at the back, Stevenage coughed the ball up for Liam Noble, who scared them with a 20-yard curler which just missed the bottom right corner.
From here, the game evened out. Bugno brushed off Filipe Morais twice, earning some grief from the frustrated home audience (who accused United’s Italian of leading with his arm), then Anthony Grant found midfield space to extend Collin from 25 yards. In the next phase, Miller bulleted a McGovern corner over the bar, and then – after a sensible drinks break, called by ref Fred Graham – Collin saved a Luke Freeman missile after Brad Potts and Grant had met in a meaty tackle.
Freeman is perhaps the most talented customer in a red and white shirt but didn’t often find freedom, such was Carlisle’s resolve at the back. One counter-attack saw the gangly Marcus Haber elude Mike Edwards but Danny Livesey forced the striker too wide to score.
Livesey emerged as the defiant star of this United display, as the men further forward struggled for creativity. Hearts then sank as Miller pipped Tansey to a dropping ball and then went over in agony but hope was restored when the Scot reappeared for action after half-time.
It may be a good job that he did, even for 15 minutes. From Stevenage’s up-tempo start to the second half came a chance at the back stick for Mark Roberts, only for Miller to extend a heel and divert the ball to safety. Livesey then slid to block a Freeman shot as Cadamarteri limbered up for his first competitive Carlisle outing, after a pre-season hamstring injury kept him out of the previous weekend’s Capital One Cup win over Accrington.
The former Huddersfield man has come to Carlisle with a brief from Abbott to deliver on a talent which has not peaked enough since his stunning teenage arrival at Everton. Extra responsibility in United’s smaller squad ought to suit the 32-year-old, who looked happy to receive the ball in tight spaces and work it deftly around the front line.
Eventually, that talent showed itself, after Livesey had mopped up three more Stevenage surges and Thirlwell had made a couple of strong interceptions in front of the back four. Cadamarteri almost broke free down the left after Carlisle cleared a corner, but Gray retreated at pace to dispossess the United sub.
Moments later, there was no catching Robson, who sprinted onto Cadamarteri’s pass, drove into the box and thumped it hard past Day. Stevenage’s defenders, notably the yellow-carded Darius Charles, greeted Carlisle’s goal by turning angrily on Alexandra Ihringova, the Slovakian female assistant referee, whose flag remained down. Then Robson nearly doubled their pain, shooting at Day’s feet when a cross might have served United better.
The underwhelming Morais was then withdrawn, as his replacement, Shroot, fired a shot into Edwards’ body after four Stevenage corners. Some of those deliveries were punched to safety by Collin, who had been enjoying one of his better days until Akins’ late shot had too much sting in it for the Carlisle keeper, Shroot reacting first to the spill and snaffling the leveller.
“Those shots can move around a lot,” said Abbott in his attempt to shield Collin from all the scrutiny for Stevenage’s goal.
The manager would certainly not be wrong to ask why Shroot was free to profit so close to the target but he didn’t spend much time pretending that Collin would be ordering extra copies of the DVD for home viewing.
The best way to ease his and United’s pain would be a press release today that says Miller’s bones and ligaments are found to be intact.
ADAM COLLIN - Was looking confident and secure, catching and punching assuredly from the hosts’ deep crosses, until the bad late slip which allowed Stevenage to equalise late on.
BRAD POTTS - On his league debut, the teenager coped well enough with his toughest challenge to date. Few opportunities to attack but didn’t often let the side down defensively.
ALESSIO BUGNO - Like Potts, he found attacking openings limited, but tried to get on the front foot when possible in support of Robson. Tested at times in second half but was solid enough when it mattered.
DANNY LIVESEY - When Stevenage enjoyed their most dangerous spells, United were grateful for Livesey’s trademark sliding and blocking. Thanks to the centre-half, Freeman and co rarely did damage in the Cumbrians’ area.
MIKE EDWARDS - Won some good early aerial battles and put himself in harm’s way when Stevenage bombarded in second half. Troubled a couple of times by the gangly Haber but was mainly an assured presence.
PAUL THIRLWELL - Brought in to add experience to a young midfield, the skipper was strong in the tackle and helped the defensive effort, which was needed at times against Smith’s high-energy opponents.
JAMES BERRETT - A competent midfield display without threatening to dictate terms. Berrett’s passing was sensible and responsible but he couldn’t quite make anything happen around the Stevenage box.
LIAM NOBLE - One of Carlisle’s main threats in the early stages with his willingness to shoot on sight. Covered plenty of ground and certainly did his bit defensively when United’s creative efforts stalled.
MATTY ROBSON - Another thumping finish to add to his opening-day cracker. Will hope for more opportunities to attack the left wing in future games but was bright and positive when he got the chance here.
JP MCGOVERN - Offered a few useful crosses in the early stages and some early link-ups with Miller offered promise, as did some first-half corners, but he drifted in and out of the game as it went on.
LEE MILLER - Looked to link up intelligently with the players around him and wasn’t far away with a first-half header. But Tansey’s tackle left him hobbling and he struggled through 20 more minutes before admitting defeat.
Subs: Danny Cadamarteri (for Miller 57) – Impressive impact; Frank Simek (for Potts 90) – Injury-time experience. Not used: Mark Gillespie, Peter Murphy, Mark Beck, Dave Symington, Chris Chantler.
Goals: Robson 73
Stevenage: Day, Gray, Charles, N’Gala, Roberts, Dunne, Grant, Tansey (Akins 65), Morais (Shroot 79), Freeman, Haber (Thalassitis 90). Not used: Arnold, Ashton, Furlonge, Ball.
Goals: Shroot 88
Ref: Fred Graham (Essex)
Crowd: 2,736 (456 away fans)
Published by http://www.newsandstar.co.uk
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