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Friday, 25 April 2014

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Paul Thirlwell shines in sluggish Carlisle Utd performance

Morecambe 2 Carlisle United 1: Anyone thinking that Paul Thirlwell was becoming a spent force in Carlisle United’s engine room had better think again after the Blues captain gave boss Greg Abbott a timely reminder he can still play a pivotal role.

Paul Thirlwell photo
Paul Thirlwell

This summer’s emergence of a youthful, energetic midfield trio of Chris Chantler, James Berrett and Liam Noble probably left the 33-year-old skipper wondering if his days as an automatic choice were behind him.

But last night Thirlwell was the best Carlisle player on the pitch, doing what he does best – the dirty work of scavenging for the ball, breaking up attacks and helping out the defence.

With the big kick-off just three days away against Accrington Stanley in the Capital One Cup, there couldn’t have been a better occasion for a player to show his manager what the team would be missing if his name is left off the team sheet.

When it came to catching the manager’s eye, Thirlwell was the pick of the bunch during a sluggish and error-strewn performance against their League Two hosts, who won the annual pre-season contest against their Cumbrian neighbours for the second successive year.

“That’s what you get from Paul Thirlwell,” said Abbott.

“Sometimes he gets criticised but every time he goes on the pitch you know what you are going to get. He puts in an honest performance, he mops up and helps other people, and his use of the ball is good.

“We know he hasn’t got the pace of other people or the goal in him but he does a job that you would miss when he’s not around. He was absolutely terrific against Morecambe and he deserves credit.

“He’s a good captain and a good person and he shows a lot of people how things should be done in any type of game.

“He knows he’s got a heck of a fight on to get a place in the starting line-up because of the performances of other midfield players.”

The result was far from a calamity for Carlisle who have shown enough during their pre-season campaign that there are plenty of reasons to be optimistic as they approach the dawn of a new season.

It would have been a useful night for Abbott, who used the game to experiment with players after insisting he hasn’t yet decided on his team for Saturday’s cup tie.

Another big positive to come out of this otherwise grim spectacle was the return to action of right-back Frank Simek and Scottish playmaker JP McGovern, whose pre-season campaigns have been disrupted by injury.

Danny Livesey and Mike Edwards were given an opportunity to see if they can form an understanding at the heart of the defence, Matty Robson returned to left-back after a summer on the wing and Andy Welsh was switched to the right wing to accommodate the return of McGovern.

It left Abbott with plenty to chew over during the next three days as the clock ticks towards the new season.

With Noble, Berrett, Chantler, Lee Miller and Peter Murphy all given a night off, youth team captain Tom Berwick and fellow Brunton babes Mark Beck, Brad Potts, David Symington, Brad Staunch and Kyle Dempsey were all included in the squad.

Carlisle were lacking urgency and fizz and, for the first time during pre-season, the Blues looked completely devoid of any ideas.

Perhaps unsurprising given the number of changes to the team which looked so impressive during Friday night’s 2-1 defeat to Middlesbrough.

Morecambe were not electrifying but they made enough of the chances that came their way, and finished the game infinitely stronger than Carlisle.

An abject first half finished goalless.

Carlisle didn’t test the keeper at all, while all three of Morecambe’s chances were woefully off target.

But then four minutes into the second half, Carlisle were dusting themselves down after Morecambe edged in front when Will Haining’s chip into the area found Chris McCready, who forced the ball over from close range.

The lead lasted only five minutes before Carlisle were back on level terms when trialist Ryan Donaldson was fouled just out the area, and Matty Robson scored with a well executed free kick.

However, it was the signal for Morecambe to seize control of the rest of the second half, showing much more creativity and deadly intent.

They regained the lead on 72 minutes when Robbie Threlfall cut in and sent over a perfect delivery for former Carlisle striker Danny Carlton, a 68th minute substitute, to fire past Collin.

Carlton nearly increased Morecambe’s lead with a 20-yard shot, which Collin couldn’t hold and the rebound fell to Threlfall but he fired wide.

By this time Morecambe weren’t so much knocking on the door as ramming it repeatedly with a battering ram.

But the woodwork denied Andrew Wright and only a timely intervention from Livesey prevented a great goalscoring opportunity for Joe Mwasile.


Morecambe: Roche, Parrish (Reid, 72), Threlfall, McCready, Haining, Wright (McGee, 83), Alessandra (Redshaw, 72). Ellison (Mwasile, 78), Burrow (Carlton, 68), Drummond (Fleming, 68), McDonald.

Carlisle United: Collin, Simek, Robson, McGovern, Livesey (Symington, 61), Welsh (Potts, 61), Berwick, Beck, Thirlwell, Donaldson, Edwards. Subs (not used): Bugno, Staunch, Dempsey, Gillespie.

Referee: S Duncan

Goals: McCready (Morecambe) 49; Robson (Carlisle) 54; Carlton (Morecambe) 72


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