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Thursday, 18 December 2014

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Beck does the damage as Carlisle Utd claim second win in 10 league games

Yeovil Town 1 Carlisle United 3: As the rain pummelled this corner of Somerset it was tempting to wonder whether fate had something new and unpleasant in store for Greg Abbott. Just as his team found some form, were the elements about to intervene?

Joe Garner photo
Joe Garner

Mercifully not. Along with the players who earned this stress-reducing victory – chiefly the two-goal teenager Mark Beck – Abbott can also be grateful that Yeovil’s groundstaff were on the money in the hours before play.

That the game went ahead at all, and then survived the buckets of wet stuff that came down heavily all through the match, was a tribute to their efforts. Carlisle have suffered at the hands of negligent pitch management at other places so it’s correct to praise diligence when we see it.

Mother Nature duly fended off, United’s players were free to summon their most important performance of this troubling autumn. Players young and experienced found a good, competitive blend after so much recent disharmony and none rose higher than Beck, the third of three 18-year-olds to burst forward this season.

If this is the start of a more comfortable period for Abbott and his team – the spirit could not cope with another slump now – history will show Beck’s first league goals as the moments when the rotten times were interrupted.

In general, Carlisle’s youngest bucks have ensured that this has not been a completely soulless fall down League One. Even on the really bad days it has been possible to see light flickering, thanks to the performances of Brad Potts (excellent again here) and Dave Symington. Now Beck has joined this party with a pair of fine finishes, one a peach.

“This is one of the really good players,” were the words spoken by a Yeovil fan, to his small son, as the giant Beck emerged from Carlisle’s dressing room and approached the team bus. United’s hero two days ago is modest by nature but can be forgiven if he has footage of his second goal on a continuous loop at home.

The moment United looked properly fresh again was in the 47th minute, when the ball fell from the dark sky and Beck, making just his second league start, swung his left foot. A moment later and a technically perfect half-volley was soaring past Marek Stech, Yeovil’s goalkeeper. “I’ve seen Mark kick those out of the ground,” offered Abbott later, reflecting on a startling strike that even had some home fans applauding.

With Joe Garner also snaffling a goal and United appearing so much more defiant, defensively, than they have for many days, it would be wrong to say this win was carved only by the gifted boys who have emerged from the club’s youth system. But it certainly wouldn’t have happened without them.

Beck gave them the lead and then Potts helped them preserve it with a supreme performance in defensive midfield, which was backed up by the likes of Danny Livesey, James Berrett and Frank Simek, who looked much nearer the mark in Saturday’s rain. Mike Edwards, another whose performance levels have been low lately, earned his win bonus at a time when another potential replacement, the Derby loanee Valentin Gjokaj, sat on the bench.

Had things gone wrong here then Abbott would have faced many pointed questions, among them why a second young player (after Sean McGinty) had been brought in to help a problem position and then left in his bib. If that debate continues it can at least be said that Abbott’s selections did not end up looking wrong in this 20th game of the league season.

A second win in 10 does not bring the worries to a halt, exactly, but Carlisle did find a better sense of themselves on Saturday. In their 4-4-2 system, they looked more capable going forward and more resolute back at base.

The latter quality had to be pulled out of the kitbag first. Yeovil, without Paddy Madden, the United loanee prevented from playing in this fixture, found an early weapon in Keanu Marsh-Brown, whose right-wing pace on the wet grass had to be contended with.

At times in the opening 20 minutes it felt like the contest was being reduced to a one-on-one between Marsh-Brown and Chris Chantler, who started by snuffing out the winger’s first foray but was later having to chase hard to keep up with his speedy foe.

Yet Simek cleared the most dangerous of Marsh-Brown’s deliveries and eventually United were able to spend some time in the home half. A sharp turn and run by Berrett got Abbott’s men on the front foot, then a Symington drive ricocheted just out of Garner’s reach.

Suddenly Carlisle were pinning Yeovil back and, crucially, they scored in this strong spell. A Beck attempt from Garner’s pass was cut out by some desperate defending but a minute later the youngster was free in the box to convert when Matty Robson drove the ball across goal.

A tidy poacher’s goal was almost followed by another, when Symington skidded a free-kick into the box, but Beck’s slide diverted it just wide. Yeovil then came back with plenty of energy, but Simek, again, cleared important lines and Sam Foley got under a header.

No sense of security is felt even when Carlisle lead by one, but the idea of a second did not, for once, look like a fantasy. Stech’s wrist-strength was tested again by Symington, before Potts tackled superbly to thwart Marsh-Brown and then Livesey got a vital toe to James Hayter’s finish after Korey Smith had put the striker through.

This stubbornness would have its reward not long after the restart. Yeovil did not always look watertight at the back and Carlisle were quick to spring another leak, when Chantler’s long free-kick was contested by several heads before Beck put his laces through it, with stunning results.

Abbott, busily handing out orders from his technical area, would have taken off at the elbow anyone who had offered him a two-goal advantage after 47 minutes at the end of such a stressful week. The time for United to occupy the trenches to protect this healthier lead was due, but they stayed bright and hungry for more themselves, as Robson almost put Potts in and Garner headed two of many good Symington corners wide.

Heading the other way were Joe Edwards, whose run was ended by Livesey; Hayter, who glanced a cross wide; and Reuben Reid, the substitute, who drew a squirming save from Adam Collin and then battered home from close range after Foley had taken aim and Collin had parried the wet ball into his path.

There then followed a few short moments when it could have gone dreadfully worse for the Blues, but a Hayter curler went wide and Collin saved Marsh-Brown’s mediocre finish after another dashing break. Minutes later and the panic was chased away by Garner, whose header from Symington’s corner slithered through Stech and over the line.

The striker toasted this clinching strike by running directly to Abbott: a sign the players knew the strain their leader was under and had been relieved to have helped, at last. A quickfire fourth would have been nirvana but goalkeeper Stech redeemed himself with a save after Symington’s brilliant run.

With a good 15 minutes remaining few in the away seats were taking much for granted but Yeovil did not have enough left in the tank to bother the Blues unduly. Collin pushed away a Gavin Williams shot and Hayter misdirected a Reid shot, but otherwise Garner made a tidy job of killing time near the Yeovil end.

Even Beck was bothering them right to the finish, earning for himself a finger-wagging rebuke from Byron Webster after an off-the-ball tumble. With his finishing, ball-work and general competitive play it may be the case that he came of age as a League One player on this sodden patch of south-western grass.

From Abbott, who is entitled to feel a little less put-upon this week, there later came advice for Beck “not to get carried away” – counsel which should also be heeded by anyone who thinks United are suddenly full of health again. That time is still a good deal down the line but on this rainy day things went better than many had imagined and feared.

ADAM COLLIN - Came under fire as Yeovil tried to power their way back, and vital save from Marsh-Brown kept it at 2-1. Caught well in first half but handling later difficult and sometimes erratic in awful conditions.

FRANK SIMEK - Was on the ball to intercept danger, especially in early stages when Yeovil put balls into the box. Simek was steady overall and the American can take heart from a better display.

CHRIS CHANTLER - Tested and sometimes beaten by Marsh-Brown during a tough early examination. Eventually got to grips with his opposite number and made some sharp contributions as time went on.

MIKE EDWARDS - After a difficult couple of weeks the centre-half was more resolute here. Yeovil’s frontmen did not feast on great service but Edwards did a solid job under fire.

DANNY LIVESEY - This rainswept contest was designed for Livesey, as United got on top and then had to fend off Yeovil’s comeback. The captain stepped forward and defended Carlisle’s honour stoutly.

BRAD POTTS - Gets sharper with each game and did lots of fine, aggressive work to break up Yeovil’s midfield play and retrieve possession for the Blues. Covered every blade and the youngster again looked the part.

JAMES BERRETT - Abbott was quick to praise Berrett for his defensive efforts and the midfielder certainly earned his corn alongside Potts. More graft than craft but his contribution was important.

MATTY ROBSON - The winger set up Beck’s opener and gave United a decent outlet down the left. Not his most eyecatching display but Robson was positive and played his part.

DAVE SYMINGTON - Impressed yet again with several quality deliveries, especially from corners, one of which led to Garner’s clincher. Involved in lots of United’s best work and almost scored himself.

MARK BECK - This was Beck’s day, with a good poacher’s goal to open his league account, and then one for the picture-book. The big striker will score few more important ones, and his all-round game looked stronger too.

JOE GARNER - Was much more involved in United’s forward play than in the last two games and had some joy in his battles with centre-halves. Looked hungry for the contest and added a crucial goal.

Subs: JP McGovern (for Symington 77) – Helped see things out. Not used: Mark Gillespie, Andy Welsh, Josh Todd, Sean McGinty, Kallum Higginbotham, Valentin Gjokaj.

Goals: Beck 21, 47; Garner 69.

Booked: Symington.

Yeovil Town: Stech, Ayling (Bennett 80), Edwards, Burn, Webster, Upson, Smith, Foley, Marsh-Brown (Williams 71), Ugwu (Reid 49), Hayter. Not used: Hinds, Stewart, Agbo, Brundle.

Goal: Reid 63.

Ref: Stephen Martin (Staffordshire).

Crowd: 3,394 (117 Carlisle fans)

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