Matty Robson shines as Carlisle Utd progress in cup
Published at 11:12, Monday, 13 August 2012
Carlisle United 1 Accrington Stanley 0: A host of personal stories battled for space two days ago, but no player stepped forward more confidently during 2012/13’s first skirmish than Matty Robson: a fourth-season stalwart who is back where he started and looking fresher than any young recruit.
New campaigns are newer for Robson than for many others. When he arrived from Hartlepool in 2009, it was as a line-hugging left-winger. He then entered 2010/11 as a heel-kicking substitute, a tactical victim.
Last season opened up with Robson back in favour but this time as the Blues’ go-to left-back. Now, at the end of Olympic summer, he has completed his own personal lap and here added an eye-pleasing goal to the old right-back-testing wide play to which United fans were introduced when he became the first signing of Greg Abbott’s big rebuilding job, three years ago.
Robson’s shuttle-run through the positions might not be the obvious place to start on a day when Abbott gave debuts to three players (and then a fourth from the bench), made a couple of major selection calls and then saw his team uneasily but deservedly take their place in round two of the Capital One Cup. But familiarity should not reduce the importance of Robson’s impact, should Saturday’s work be prolonged as this new term opens up.
The left-sided position in Carlisle’s front three was often a berth high on productivity last season, as Rory Loy and then Francois Zoko rushed to prominence. Their absence for different reasons left a vacancy into which Robson has sped. The 27-year-old is more inclined to beat a man and then deliver, instead of going directly for goal in the manner of Loy (still sidelined) or Zoko (now a sub for Notts County), but with United still shy on frontmen there is a need for their most advanced players to have a decent idea of where the target is.
Robson accepted the challenge and settled this first game of term by coming infield, collecting possession to the right of centre in the opposition penalty area and then curling a skilful shot past Ian Dunbavin, Accrington’s experienced goalkeeper.
For the moment the eye drifted away from Brad Potts, the 18-year-old making a competent debut at right-back and the other alterations Abbott has made to last season’s eighth-placed team (such as Mike Edwards, the new signing preferred to Peter Murphy in defence and Alessio Bugno, the Italian now occupying Robson’s previous position).
It obliged us to say that Robson, one of the longer-servers, had made the first serious statement of Carlisle’s campaign, during a sometimes faulty but efficient opener against League Two visitors who often passed the ball pleasingly but travelled without any teeth.
No knife was wielded by Stanley; Robson instead did the carving. “When the ball came to me, I could hear Nobs [Liam Noble] – although, to be fair, I can always hear Nobs,” the scorer said. “He asked for me to step over it but I knew I had a bit of space.
“As soon as I opened up, I used the defender as a wall to bend it around. The keeper was a bit unsighted and to see it fly in the top corner was a nice moment.”
Other nice moments were not plentiful in Saturday’s heat, which both Robson and Abbott later insisted was a test of the team’s energy reserves (but “the same for both teams,” both acknowledged). The sense during the game, and afterwards, when manager and players spoke in the media room, was that Carlisle did enough to negotiate this particular obstacle, but better will be required when league business starts at Stevenage this weekend.
There was maturity in United’s collective assessment of an afternoon which saw the Blues’ new, and, in places, young line-up strain for fluency. Potts, preferred to Frank Simek at right-back, was there on merit – Abbott’s word – and performed steadily, while Edwards’ stability at centre-half sets Murphy the latest challenge of a Carlisle career dotted with tests (all of which he has passed, in the long run).
Bugno, meanwhile, began gingerly, losing possession in the third minute and obliging his captain, Danny Livesey, to intervene on Karl Sheppard with a tackle. The ex-Monza man’s improvement was broadly in line with Potts’, who contributed a hanging early cross from which Robson and Lee Miller tried to profit.
From then on Carlisle came only in occasional bursts. When they passed the ball crisply, it was a treat to see. But moments like the sixth-minute surge were rare: Chris Chantler clipping the ball to JP McGovern, the right-winger slipping in the overlapping Robson, and the latter’s cross finding Miller at the near post, his effort being bravely saved by Dunbavin.
There was considerably more toil under the sun as the first half progressed. A couple of promising moves ended with Noble’s control failing him, before Chantler ran into trouble and then Potts sensibly shepherded Charlie Barnett out for a goal-kick.
One chipped pass by Bugno to the scampering Robson offered some promise for the left-sided partnership which is early in the making. Miller, meanwhile, was showing some trademark, deft touches but was not always adhesive when the ball came his way. Accrington duly took encouragement from United’s difficulties and enjoyed improved spells of possession, from which their former Blues midfielder Luke Joyce, with a 25-yard curler, set Adam Collin his most serious first-half test.
When United came back out of their shells, with 10 minutes of the half remaining, it was enough to locate a goal. First, Miller fed the raiding James Berrett for a low shot which Dunbavin repelled. Then, after a prolonged break for drinks, McGovern set up a move which cut through the dullness, clipping a pass through two red shirts for Miller. The striker dummied for Berrett, who found Robson in scoring space.
The goal was the best of United: a measure of craft from their wiliest players and an emphatic conclusion. Carlisle took some eyecatching goals in this manner last season and will happily benefit from more as they search for proper cohesion. Another snappy move early in the second half saw Miller spin onto McGovern’s lay-off and drill a shot wide.
Accrington then came more seriously at United through Potts’ rival, Aiden Chippendale, who left the youngster behind in the 52nd minute and went close with a fizzer. Potts then retaliated with a fine intercepting slide as the winger dashed forward. Chippendale then uncorked one from 30 yards and had Collin at full, diving stretch.
United’s keeper will have more strenuous afternoons but was ready to punch, importantly, when Chippendale then bent in a free-kick from the right after a rare Edwards error. Matters then descended when Miller and Toto Nsiala, Stanley’s card-happy Congolese centre-half, received yellow cards for a spat after the Carlisle man had been penalised in the challenge.
The peroxide-haired Nsiala, whose name was written in 11 referees’ notebooks in 20 games last season, then stepped forward as the pantomime act, slicing embarrassingly out of play and then scything Robson on the run, somehow avoiding a second yellow from ref Nigel Miller before being hastily withdrawn by his manager, Paul Cook.
Abbott also reached into his reserves at this point and produced Dave Symington, a youth colleague of Potts, with Mark Beck following later, completing a happy trio of home-produced teenagers on first-team display. This rare sight will have been greeted warmly by Eric Kinder, the youth team coach, and nearly ended spectacularly when Berrett fed Symington in space in the last five minutes, only for the west Cumbrian to miscue his free shot.
As his attempt bobbled wide, Symington raised his hands to his face in dismay. Back down they swiftly came, as he then put a cross on Robson’s toe and failed by inches to reach a rebound after Beck had tested Dunbavin in injury-time.
“It’s an absolute delight as a manager to be able to pick these young players,” said Abbott, who does not tend to take undue gambles in cups, given the potential for cash prizes, and whose insistence that they were all chosen on merit therefore passed the accuracy test: just like Robson’s golden shot.
ADAM COLLIN - Not often tested, but was in the right place to deny Chippendale and Joyce, and punching was mainly sound.
BRAD POTTS - On his debut, the youngster was caught out a couple of times but was otherwise solid and sensible in his work.
ALESSIO BUGNO - Ambushed early on but got sharper as game progressed and linked promisingly with Robson at times.
DANNY LIVESEY - Error-free performance from the captain, who gave Stanley’s forwards little change.
MIKE EDWARDS - An unfussy, efficient debut. Did the basics well and was mostly calm under bombardment.
CHRIS CHANTLER - Showed glimpses of his brightness in the pass, but ran out of steam in second half.
JAMES BERRETT - The pick of the midfield three, tackled and passed keenly and made some handy forward runs.
LIAM NOBLE - Always eager to attack, control failed him in some good positions but contributed some bright passing.
MATTY ROBSON - Took a fine goal and his urgency down the left gave United their best outlet.
JP MCGOVERN - On his way back to full sharpness, Scot wasn't at his best but moment of craft contributed to winner.
LEE MILLER - Several canny touches and a few misdirected headers: a mixed bag from United’s line-leader.
Subs: Dave Symington (for McGovern 77) Snatched at scoring chance on debut; Mark Beck (for Miller 84) Tested keeper with late shot; Paul Thirlwell (for Chantler 90) Helped shore up in injury-time. Not used: Gillespie, Simek, Murphy, Welsh.
Goal: Robson 38
Accrington Stanley: Dunbavin, Murphy, Liddle, Nsiala (Eckersley 77), Clark (Dawson 69), Joyce, Barnett (Hatfield 56), Chippendale, Miller, Sheppard, Lindfield. Not used: Dixon, Gray, Dawber, Molyneux
Booked: Nsiala, Liddle
Ref: Nigel Miller (County Durham)
Crowd: 2,924 (118 away fans)
Published by http://www.newsandstar.co.uk
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