Cook provides the magic ingredient in Carlisle Utd win
Last updated at 12:59, Monday, 12 March 2012
Carlisle United 4 Bury 1: When even Charlton Athletic are managing to concede four goals in the first half of a game, the conclusion is simple. Carlisle United’s home form is just about the last reliable thing standing in this League One season.
The runaway leaders take a pounding on their own manor but the Cumbrian castle remains intact. Greg Abbott believes that to extend this long, unbeaten Brunton Park run until the end of the campaign would be a “monstrous” achievement, and step one towards that target was taken here – not without complications, but with an enjoyable closing flourish.
The 14th game since United last tramped off a defeated side in these parts was rumbling along to an earnest but unsatisfactory draw until Abbott rummaged through his toolkit and produced Jordan Cook.
Until Saturday a young bundle of promise with minimal end result, the Sunderland forward became the afternoon’s catalyst – scoring within two minutes of leaving the bench, winning a penalty 10 minutes later, and going home a hero on the last day of his second month’s loan.
By the time you read these words, a third agreement should be all but sealed with his Premier League parent club. “We’re hoping he hasn’t signed off,” revealed Graham Kavanagh, Abbott’s No2. “We want to keep hold of him.”
The idea of Cook being around for a longer stint was perhaps not right at the top of Abbott’s tick-list before play, but such was his impact in the space of 15 vibrant minutes that it now feels essential. Which other of United’s possible replacements, it’s fair to ask, would have ambushed the Bury defender Phil Picken at such lightning speed before cutting in to score past Trevor Carson, a goalkeeper familiar to Cook from Sunderland’s reserves?
The young man’s pace, which helped him pick Picken’s pocket down Bury’s left hand side, is no secret. But his composure when asked to locate the net with the pressure on was a new find. It put Carlisle 2-1 up in a tight but winnable game. By the time the contest was over, the visitors had unravelled, losing two more goals (to Lee Miller) and one player (Peter Sweeney, sent off in the final minutes for a silly grapple with Francois Zoko), as United gave an improved crowd of 4,855 some late cheer at the end of a week when Abbott had called out for bigger audiences.
“I was over the moon to score,” said Cook, whose introduction at Tom Taiwo’s expense brought a few terrace boos before the wisdom of Abbott’s decision became plain. “I’ve been brought to the club to get goals, so to get the first one and to win is just fantastic.”
It would be tantamount to cruelty to deny the 21-year-old the chance to push on from this happy day of achievement. Martin O’Neill gains little, surely, by shoving him back in the Stadium of Light stiffs.
Other news from Carlisle’s equal biggest home win of term, which kept them out of the top six only because of Notts County’s eyebrow-raising win at The Valley: Chris Chantler remains a marvel at left-back, Danny Livesey is attacking his opportunity in the team as though he’s been told it’s his last, and Liam Noble has relocated his shooting boots.
The latter man, another restored to the team after a period of benchwarming, would probably still be tearing around Brunton Park’s pitch now if he was allowed. His 25th minute goal might also still be travelling had there not been a net to stop it.
Carlisle had seen plenty of trademark vigour from Noble this season but no successful long-range missiles until the beauty he dispatched on Saturday.
It was needed, too, because by then United had got themselves into arrears.
With Bury stuffing their midfield with bodies and urging Lateef Elford-Alliyu to cause bother down the left, Richie Barker’s side began proceedings brightly as the Cumbrians struggled to work chances off Miller’s line-leading, which was not at its usual high standard.
An early surge, which saw JP McGovern volley James Berrett’s cross at Carson, did not set down a pattern of Carlisle fluidity.
Bury, without injured captain Steve Schumacher, emerged as capable rivals, chiefly because of the jinking Elford-Alliyu and the front-running intelligence of Mike Grella, a loanee here last season.
One run and shot from the former obliged Frank Simek to make an important sliding block, but their next link-up was more successful, as Elford-Alliyu located improbable space in the left of United’s box and, after swapping passes with Grella, craftily worked it to Giles Coke, in space. He battered home the chance, first-time.
As against Rochdale last Tuesday, though, Carlisle responded briskly to a goal against. Three minutes is all it took for them to level as, after Livesey had expertly denied Grella, Noble strode onto Miller’s header 30 yards from Bury’s target and hit the cleanest possible strike into the top left corner of Carson’s net.
The midfielder happily milked the cheers, and then United set off in pursuit of further openings. They were not plentiful, though, and the half’s best closing action came from the visitors, who saw Sweeney put a deflected free-kick just over, and then had Grella again connect with Elford-Alliyu, who was thwarted, not for the first time, by the scampering Taiwo.
The former Chelsea midfielder was quickly back into his destructive stride after the break, taking a Grella pull-back off Coke’s toes in the area.
United, for whom Miller whipped a free-kick close in the 51st minute, were grateful for Taiwo’s industry and the impeccable work of men like Chantler and Livesey at a stage when Zoko was not coming alight upfield and Miller was struggling to both offer and receive useful support.
With referee Trevor Kettle contributing in his own fussy way to a stop-start spectacle, United’s path to their second win in five days did not seem very clear. Livesey headed a cross out of Grella’s path and Peter Murphy shut down an Elford-Alliyu chance after a long-throw, but there was still a lack of clarity from the forward men in Bury’s half.
Credit Abbott, then, for taking the tactical plunge on Cook, even as it cost him Taiwo’s competitiveness. The situation called for a gamble and how admirably it paid off, when Miller fed the ball downfield on the break, and the substitute galloped forward to pounce on Picken’s dithering and then made impressively short work of the rest.
This releasing of his “shackles”, as Kavanagh described it, took Cook on to more involvement later, when he was on the receiving end of an ungainly aerial challenge from Joe Skarz. Kettle, never afraid to whistle, awarded the penalty and Miller buried it low to the left.
From a generally ordinary personal afternoon against Bury’s ancient stopper Efe Sodje, United’s target-man was swiftly then moving to 13 for the season when he battled through a scramble and blasted home Carlisle’s fourth goal in the 93rd minute.
This followed Sweeney’s banishment for a frustrated but foolish wrestling move on Zoko which sent the Ivorian flying to earth.
“I think Francois made a meal of it, to be fair,” said Kavanagh, with creditable honesty.
Barker, whose troops are now 10 games without a win and in danger of being pulled into a relegation scrap, was not to be mistaken for the world’s happiest man at the end of proceedings.
Abbott, by contrast, was spotted steering Cook into a discreet corner of Carlisle’s ground for a chat about his future, after his rich contribution to yet another unblemished afternoon at Brunton Park which ended – as usual – with only the visitors bearing Skarz.
ADAM COLLIN - Nothing he could do about Bury’s goal, otherwise barely tested but did his duties soundly.
FRANK SIMEK - His best recent display, put in some crucial early interceptions and grew in confidence down the right.
CHRIS CHANTLER - Saw off the tricky Worrall superbly and performed with great appetite, anticipation and quality.
DANNY LIVESEY - Defended, again, as though his life depended on it. Has quickly returned to fine form.
PETER MURPHY - Not at his sharpest and distribution was below-par, but mainly got the job done defensively.
TOM TAIWO - His tracking back and tackling helped United stay in the game, before Abbott's tactical switch won it.
JAMES BERRETT - Industrious in the midfield battles and did his bit without lighting the contest up.
LIAM NOBLE - Brilliant goal capped a non-stop first-half effort, and he was often bright on the ball after the break.
JP MCGOVERN - Kept trying to work openings down the right and showed flashes of quality on the ball.
FRANCOIS ZOKO - Not at his most effective but remained persistent against a dogged Bury back line.
LEE MILLER - Struggled to get into his stride all game, yet still finished with two goals and a role in two more.
Subs: Jordan Cook (for Taiwo 75) – The spark Carlisle needed. Not used: Mark Gillespie, Andy Welsh, Paddy Madden, Lubo Michalik.
Goals: Noble 25; Cook 77; Miller 87 pen, 90
Booked: Noble, Murphy
Bury: Carson, Picken (Amoo 78), Skarz, Sodje, N Clarke, Cregg (Harrop 83), Sweeney, Coke, Worrall, Elford-Alliyu, Grella. Not used: Branagan, Hughes, Jones.
Goals: Coke 22
Booked: Clarke, Cregg, Worrall. Sent off: Sweeney
Ref: Trevor Kettle (Rutland)
Crowd: 4,855 (382 Bury fans)
First published at 11:28, Monday, 12 March 2012
Published by http://www.newsandstar.co.uk
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