Friday, 27 November 2015

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Dobie has nightmare as Carlisle Utd slump at Oldham

Oldham Athletic 2 Carlisle United 0: There must be a fantasy that runs through Scott Dobie’s head at night.

Carlisle United action photo
Scott Dobie

In his dreamlike state, the Carlisle United striker pounces on to a through ball and, with only the goalkeeper to beat, nonchalantly chips the ball into the net, before turning to the awestruck Blues fans with his arms outstretched to be hailed as a hero.

Until he conquers what looks like a crisis of confidence in front of goal, Dobie is going to have to dream on.

On Saturday, as on so many other occasions, the Cumbrian striker found himself the whipping boy for Carlisle’s goalscoring failings after he endured the sort of afternoon you wouldn’t wish on your own worst enemy when he squandered two chances any striker would die for.

Denied by the outstretched arm of Dean Brill with only the Oldham keeper to beat and then thwarted by the woodwork, Dobie will suffer nightmares for days to come as reflects on how he should have had the game sewn up for Carlisle by half-time.

It left his manager Greg Abbott facing hefty criticism for his decision to stand by his under-fire hitman on Saturday, axing Joe Anyinsah instead from the starting line-up in favour of new signing Richard Offiong, who was handed his full league debut following his arrival from Hamilton Accies.

Abbott opted for a bout of public self-flagellation in the immediate aftermath of the defeat, conceding that, with the benefit of hindsight, his decision to pair Dobie and Offiong together had back-fired.

In truth, the Blues boss was being overly harsh on himself with his mea culpa routine, as it was more down to bad luck than bad judgement that his gamble failed to pay off.

There was no great lack of chemistry between Dobie and Offiong during a promising first-half performance, and, indeed, had the former tucked away his two chances, it would have looked like the best decision in the world to have given the new-look strikeforce a chance to flourish.

But Abbott was again left bemoaning his side’s lack of firepower – an old, familiar shortcoming that nearly cost them their League One status last season – and hinted he could turn to the emergency loan system to try to prevent a drama turning into a crisis.

Carlisle suffered a second bloody nose against a struggling team over successive weekends, but the way travelling fans booed their team was over-the-top considering it was the Blues’ first away defeat of the season and it came just two weeks after they were mightily impressive during a 3-0 win at home to Tranmere. They’ve hardly become a poor team within the space of a fortnight.

That's not to say the Carlisle faithful haven't got good reason to moan and groan.

They certainly deserved better than to see players’ heads go down after Oldham went 2-0 up seven minutes into the second half through Keigan Parker, and Carlisle showed about as much life as an Egyptian mummy despite the introduction of Anyinsah.

Carlisle will need to develop a more menacing air if they are to move back up the table after their confidence totally evaporated as soon as Oldham’s second went in.

It was a much better day for Oldham, who finally ended a terrible sequence of results at Boundary Park by collecting their first win in 12 home games, a run dating back to Valentine’s Day. After finding themselves trying to fight back from 2-0 down, Carlisle looked disjointed and out of sorts – completely unrecognisable from the side that tore apart Tranmere, brushed aside Bristol City and looked the embodiment of a team that could really go places this season.

How they need that relish back.

On an afternoon when perspiration, rather than inspiration, was largely the order of the day, Carlisle looked purposeful and positive from the start, showing plenty of drive, desire and collective self belief which has already carried them to excellent results on their travels against Millwall, Bristol City and Stockport County.

Offiong had the chance to become an instant hero only three minutes into his full league debut, when he found himself presented with a chance on the edge of the area but Sean Gregan cut out the danger.

There was an even better opportunity for Carlisle to seize control of the game on seven minutes when keeper Lenny Pidgeley rolled the ball out to David Raven and the right-back played a lovely ball forward to Offiong.

The former England under-20 striker’s flick-on wrong-footed the home defence and Dobie found himself clean through with only Brill to beat from 12 yards, but the Latics keeper held his nerve and turned the ball wide.

It was to prove costly, as, five minutes later, Oldham were in the driving seat when Chris Taylor and Alan Sheehan outsmarted David Raven and Danny Livesey on the left flank, before Pawal Abbott scored his third goal of the season when he fired home from close in.

There was still a greater dynamism and directness to the moves Carlisle constructed with Graham Kavanagh trying his luck from 23 yards and Matty Robson seeing his effort deflected wide for a corner.

Carlisle looked as if their pressure had paid dividends on the half hour when Sheehan tried to head back to his goal after Robson’s deep cross into the box and it nearly resulted in an own goal, only for Brill to frantically flap the ball away.

It seemed just a matter of time before Carlisle were back on level terms, but then came another pivotal moment which they will look back on as costing them a chance of victory.

Offiong flicked the ball into the path of Dobie just inside the area, but the Cumbrian was left with his head in his hands as he saw his shot ricochet off the post.

Oldham finished the half stronger with Pidgeley flinging himself at a 20-yard shot from Danny Whitaker and then Parker firing past the post.

Dave Penney’s side came out with their tails up as well after the interval and their confidence was rewarded with a second goal just seven minutes into the second half. Taylor found Sheehan on the overlap and he delivered the perfect cross for Parker to open his account for the season with Oldham’s second goal.

Greg Abbott threw on Anyinsah in place of Offiong to support Dobie who had looked most likely to score, as well as fit-again teenager Tom Taiwo to try to add some youthful exuberance and aggression in midfield, but Carlisle played with no semblance of order after Oldham’s second goal. Dobie completed a frustrating afternoon when he saw his eight-yard volley bounce wide.

While Oldham were not electrifying, they made enough of the chances that came their way, and what happened at Boundary Park must have been all too familiar for Carlisle fans who watched as their side threatened only sporadically after going 2-0 down.

LENNY PIDGELEY Wasn’t given ample protection by the United defence but otherwise proved a safe pair of hands.

DAVID RAVEN Caught out a couple of times as he suffered a blip in his fine form.

IAN HARTE Defensively secure and helped in attack but should have played greater part in helping keep his team-mates heads up.

DANNY LIVESEY Vulnerable at times and will have to make sure he is at top of his game following the return of fit-again Keogh.

PETER MURPHY Fairly composed but like Livesey must stay at the top of his game with Richard Keogh breathing down his neck.

PAUL THIRLWELL – 7 Hard working but it would be reassuring to see him gee up his crestfallen team-mates when heads dropped.

GRAHAM KAVANAGH Wily old campaigner who always makes his presence known but likely to be under threat from Tom Taiwo.

MATTY ROBSON Not as effective as he has been in recent games but never gave up.

KEVAN HURST Dangerous and pacy but this was not one of his best performances.

RICHARD OFFIONG Promising introduction as he sparked plenty of chances with his vision and awareness.

SCOTT DOBIE Was Carlisle’s best goal threat which justifies his manager’s faith but he missed two gilt-edged chances.

Subs: Taiwo (for Kavanagh, 56) – tenacious and determined on his return 6; Madine (for Dobie, 74) – failed to make an impression 6; Anyinsah (for Offiong, 56) put himself about and lively introduction 6. Not used: Collin, Bridge-Wilkinson, Rothery and Keogh.

Oldham Athletic: Brill, Hazell, Whitaker, Abbott, Lomax, Furman, Gregan, Parker (Brooks, 80), Taylor, Colbeck (Lee, 74) and Sheehan, Subs: Csiki, Ollerenshaw, Rowney, Bembo-Leta and Tischler.

Referee: P Biggs

Goals: Abbott (12), Parker (52)

Bookings: Kavanagh (foul); Livesey (dissent)

Crowd: 4,268


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