Carlisle Utd suffer their first defeat of the season
Last updated at 17:22, Monday, 27 September 2010
AFC Bournemouth 2 Carlisle United 0: They were still searching for Bournemouth’s “soft underbelly” when they turned the lights out at Dean Court two days ago.
In his pre-match addresses Greg Abbott had described the Cherries as a team of careless buccaneers, addicted to attacking but reckless at the rear.
That stereotype can now consider itself challenged. United’s first league defeat of the season was particularly notable for the strength and organisation of their opponents’ back line, who defied the idea that Bournemouth’s defenders were a collection of so many south coast amusements.
With their own frustrating forward play, Carlisle were like the arcade grabbing claw that never manages to seize the toy. They toiled and tried but left town with empty pockets. Eddie Howe’s sprightly side duly cashed in with second-half goals from the former Arsenal trainee defender Ryan Garry and the substitute Michael Symes, who used to fire in youth team shots alongside Wayne Rooney at Everton.
When he was trading passes with the future of English football, it’s unlikely that Symes’ wildest fantasies pictured him clipping home a decisive penalty in a League One skirmish at the ground now known as the Fitness First Stadium. Diverging paths duly sent Rooney into the stratosphere and Symes to Accrington Stanley, where he quietly assembled a reputation as a handy lower-division marksman.
Snaffled by the highly-regarded Howe in the summer and let loose from the bench on Saturday, Symes put the nail in Carlisle’s unbeaten run with a 64th-minute spot-kick that ensured the scoreline would not offer any misleading interpretations of events. Particularly in the second half, the Cherries showed the greater enterprise and the more sure-footed defending.
This wasn’t how it was meant to be. Carlisle had marched into Dorset brandishing a chain of three clean sheets which had enabled them to set up camp at high altitude in the third division. Abbott’s regret at close of play was that the inevitable law of averages only corrected one side of his team. When a couple of aberrations finally popped up at the back, there was no additional imagination at the front.
That is a recipe for defeat, especially when encountering a team as intrepid as Bournemouth, who have now negotiated 14 matches at their home ground without setback on their merry journey from League Two renaissance men to third-tier bravehearts.
Carlisle themselves have started 2010/11 in fine fettle, but need a rapid response at Hartlepool tomorrow night if the worm of doubt concerning their meagre goalscoring return isn’t to burrow too deeply into the Cumbrian brain. When the other lot finally finds a way to your net, it’s time to study stats like Carlisle’s recent tally (one goal in four games) and ask when and how the necessary improvement will come.
The likelihood is that Abbott will ask the same players to douse the doubts in the north-east rather than make the first serious delve into his managerial toolkit of this campaign. One defeat from eight is a statistic that certainly requires a sober response. Abbott’s preferred starting line-up have purchased themselves some patience through their early-term displays. The challenge now is for them to prove that they can summon more creativity and penalty-box spark than they ever looked like achieving here.
When Carlisle’s impressive loan defender James Chester appeared sporting a new buzz-cut before Saturday’s kick-off, the temptation was to suggest the Blues (average age 23) were seeking new ways of casting off their young-shaver demeanour and appearing battle-tough. This tallied with Adam Collin’s midweek assertion that Abbott’s team of rookies contained no “daft lads”. Immaturity certainly deserves no place in any relevant analysis of their output so far this season, particularly when Saturday’s opposition were similarly stuffed with rookies.
Garry, the 26-year-old centre-half whose CV boasts a solitary Arsenal appearance, displayed an early briskness with a run from the back which Gary Madine had to halt with a foul. A testing cross-shot from Marc Pugh, after diligent work from Marvin Bartley, also spoke well of Bournemouth’s intent in a patchy first half.
Carlisle’s attempt to work the gaps around the Cherries’ area only brought token success. A likelier opening came when Lubo Michalik decided to can the floor-football and bombed a high ball forward from which Madine engineered a blocked shot.
A Liam Feeney burst heralded a stronger Bournemouth spell, as the normally impeccable Chester and Michalik were panicked into some hasty clearances. In the 18th minute the Cherries forced a corner which led to a Rhoys Wiggins delivery, a Feeney dummy and a thumping shot from Josh McQuoid which was superbly tipped over by Collin.
At this point it was reassuring to see that Carlisle’s goalkeeper had kept his reflexes sharp through the quiet weeks when he has been sturdily protected. Less heartening was the way Bournemouth retained a nominal advantage in the balance of play, as their deep-lying midfielder Shaun Cooper cut off supply to Madine, Craig Curran and Francois Zoko and the athletic Bartley made good ground in the midfield battle.
Zoko, well-marshalled for the most part, appeared Carlisle’s likeliest scorer and almost worked the trick with a bending attempt from 25 yards which flew just wide, and then a rapid spin and shot moments later. Yet Howe’s men concluded the half in the ascendancy; McQuoid spooning over the bar after Collin had denied Pugh ,and then Frank Simek straining to clear a McQuoid cross.
At the interval, Howe replaced Cooper with Symes, seemingly content that his defence were performing sufficiently well to enable him to feed an extra attacker into his side. Two minutes in and his daring was rewarded. First, a United attack foundered when Curran’s pass to Zoko bounced off the referee, Dave Phillips, and allowed the Cherries to counter. Feeney earned a corner, Pugh curled over the set-piece, and Garry soared to convert the header.
United vented their exasperation at the poorly-placed Mr Phillips, but still ought to have dealt better with their misfortune. Bournemouth, now buoyant, almost forced a swift second through Feeney, before Abbott replaced Oliver Norwood with Ben Marshall in his pursuit of parity.
No such joy. Instead, the hosts buried the points when Bartley won a sliding duel with Tom Taiwo, Symes worked the ball to Adam Smith, Zoko darted into a hasty tackle, and Symes dispatched the penalty with enviable ease.
The introduction of Matty Robson and Jason Price, and Abbott’s switch to a winger-led system, yielded a modest reply from the Blues, who remained too flat, too devoid of zip against Howe’s disciplinarians. Marshall chanced his arm from distance and Robson pummelled a shot into a red-and-black shirt, then Pugh and McQuoid passed up chances to enhance the victory margin before matters were closed.
The temptation to go in hard on Carlisle’s failings ought to be resisted for the moment. Certain notions – that they are showing insufficient signs of emerging from their goals famine, and the idea they suffered critically from a lack of experienced heads on Saturday – might have been disproved by tomorrow night, when a derby occasion ought to put a touch of competitive zeal back into their work. The opportunity to scrub from memory last season’s 4-1 surrender at Hartlepool ought to provoke certain blue combatants, too.
Abbott has long belted the drum on the apparent mental fortitude of United’s young troops. Along rolls the first examination of that theory at Victoria Park, and a quick chance to accelerate away from the Dorset day when their standards went south.
ADAM COLLIN - United’s outstanding performer. Claimed crosses confidently and pulled off one brilliant save.
FRANK SIMEK - The dangerous Pugh posed the American some problems; Simek kept battling but wasn’t at his best.
SEAN MCDAID - McDaid dug in even though his attacking influence was limited and was far from United's weakest player.
JAMES CHESTER - Got Carlisle out of trouble on a few occasions but was not as secure as he has been.
LUBO MICHALIK - Big Slovakian didn’t do much wrong and cleared some important lines.
OLIVER NORWOOD - Tried to create with some quick passing, but sacrificed after break as Blues chased game.
TOM TAIWO - Midfield battler wasn’t at his influential best and came off second-best in battle with Bartley.
JAMES BERRETT - Kept trying to create with his set-pieces but little came off for the ex-Huddersfield man.
FRANCOIS ZOKO - United’s most dangerous player in first half but had minimal impact afterwards.
CRAIG CURRAN - Tried to keep pressure on Howe’s back four but barely got a sight of goal.
GARY MADINE - Battled with home defenders but had little joy and got limited service.
Subs: Ben Marshall (for Norwood 55) - Came close with shot; Matty Robson (for Zoko 67) - Looked lively; Jason Price (for Curran 67) - Sniped at ref. Not used: Tony Caig, Peter Murphy, Graham Kavanagh, Tony Kane.
Booked: Norwood, Marshall, Price
Bournemouth: Jalal, Smith, Wiggins, Pearce, Garry, Cooper (Symes 46), Bartley, Robinson, Pugh (Cummings 90), Feeney (Fletcher 90), McQuoid. Not used: Arter, Bradbury, Hollands, Stewart.
Goals: Garry 48, Symes 63 pen
Ref: David Phillips (West Sussex)
First published at 11:34, Monday, 27 September 2010
Published by http://www.newsandstar.co.uk
Have your say
Read your report with great intrest.Seemed very thorough having worked on newspapers for 40 years and covered many hundreds of football matches as a photographer very inpressed with the fair report.Did not attend the match but read a number of reports on the match .I am gong to the AFCB match against Exeter on Tuesday with nmy son. I hope you win Tuesday night... Wish Carlise luck in the future and hope we both might go up.
Let's not get too disheartened! A win at Hartlepool tomorrow and Saturday's defeat will be a distant memory.
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