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Tuesday, 02 September 2014

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Sheffield Wednesday's Gary Madine sees red as Carlisle Utd turn on style

Carlisle United 3 Sheffield Wednesday 2: It couldn’t last. Gary Madine began a night he will forever remember with a scowl by sharing a hug with a female steward, a firm handshake with Graham Kavanagh and some mutual applause with the Paddock. Before the second half started he was still in friendly mode, chatting away with United’s JP McGovern at the halfway line.

Gary Madine photo
Gary Madine is red carded

Then he looked again at the red carpet and saw a bed of nails. By the 82nd minute Madine’s sky had fallen in. Sent-off for two bookable offences – the second one a late foul on James Tavernier – League One’s leading scorer and soaring product of Carlisle’s youth team appeared to jerk his head towards the referee, Paul Tierney, before stalking off towards the tunnel.

There were some choice words for the baying supporters behind the dugouts. There was also recourse to that very modern outpouring – the angry tweet – as Madine replied to internet taunts before taking his leave of Brunton Park under his own private cloud.

Each part of what this 6ft 3in headline-magnet contributed to the social media debate a few minutes after full-time is open to dispute. “Useless fans” is an especially dubious charge given the noise with which most of the 6,058 audience propelled United during their three-goal fightback.

“Needed the man in black 2 get u the win” – not quite, even though Madine’s view that he had been harshly penalised by Lancashire official Tierney was shared by some in the United camp. The truth is the Blues were Wednesday’s worst enemies, not the chap with the whistle and cards.

As for “enjoy mid table”, the single-point gap between Carlisle and the play-offs after this stunning success gives Greg Abbott’s men the ideal platform to challenge Madine’s forecast. This was one from the occasional menu of Brunton Park classics: a joyful riot of a game which deserves to be remembered in its own right, regardless of what the Owls’ number 14 brought to the table.

That his manager, Gary Megson, might in hindsight wish he had hooked Madine when the signs were plain that his frustration was bubbling near the rim of the pan, should be of no concern to Abbott and United. Carlisle had a job to do when Madine was both on and off the pitch and they saw it through magnificently.

First prize for sound of the season so far is awarded to the mass of Blues fans for the collective intake of breath heard when another Wednesday forward, Ryan Lowe, broke through on goal in the 94th minute. The gap between his sliding shot and Carlisle’s target could be measured in millimetres.

Brunton Park exhaled and three points could finally be taken to the bank. Another Tuesday evening barnstormer could be committed to memory. And Abbott could put the whole thing into context for us all.

“Have I ever seen a second-half like that before? Yes. I was an Under-12 playing for Stoke Heath Rangers, and we played like that.” With apologies to the cream of the Coventry District Sunday League, it may not be wise to take Carlisle’s boss seriously.

Had Lowe’s late shot crept inside the left-hand post it might have been too much for some hearts to take. Before those final, watch-through-the-fingers seconds, United’s largest crowd of term had already stomached the sight of another returning hero (Ben Marshall) scoring an achingly good goal for the other lot, before the second-half response for the ages, Madine’s early banishment and a then Rob Jones consolation header which set up a closing siege.

“It was fantastic – really, really decent,” said Abbott, who was searching hard for superlatives at close of play. “We can’t play much better than that. So if people don’t come after that, they’re not coming at all – simple as that.”

The perfect sales pitch began with Marshall reannouncing his talent, skipping around Peter Murphy (deployed at left-back for the banned Matty Robson as Lubo Michalik returned in the middle) and obliging James Berrett to mop up.

Marshall’s recovery from the broken leg he suffered on Carlisle duty in April was a joy to see, until he started complicating supporters’ emotions by running again and again at United’s defence. With Madine getting zero change from Michalik and Livesey, Marshall shot over after another dynamic run, before Carlisle responded with a Berrett shot that Rob Jones managed to block.

Jones himself skirted a dismissal for two quickfire fouls on Lee Miller, only one of which drew a booking. This came in United’s most vibrant first-half spell, during which Miller thrust a header wide and Berrett drew a parry from Steve Bywater, moments after Rory Loy had aimed a hasty 30-yarder onto the roof of the Neil Centre.

Loy, who then shot wide from closer in, would discover his range soon enough, but Marshall returned to prominence in the 36th minute with his goal. First, Chris O’Grady displayed superb strength to hold off Michalik and enable James O’Connor to switch play. Marshall controlled the pass, cut across Murphy, evaded another challenge and then whipped a low, left-footed shot past Collin from 18 yards.

Carlisle may owe their comeback to the way they fended off Wednesday in the closing minutes of the half. After the excellent James Tavernier tested Bywater from range, Megson’s side launched a severe bombardment in stoppage time, which saw Livesey block Chris Lines’ shot, Collin scoop away Lewis Buxton’s cross-shot, Michalik nod a Jose Semedo effort off the line and then Collin soar to tip over an O’Grady header.

Briefly, some argy-bargy appeared to break out as the teams made for the tunnel. Fifteen minutes later United re-emerged with dangerous intentions. In the second-half’s opening minutes, referee Tierney summoned Owls captain Jones to have a calming word with Madine after two Michalik challenges on the striker – deemed legal – had provoked complaints.

Then Carlisle really put their foot down. Tavernier, accelerating superbly away from his blunder in Saturday’s defeat at Charlton, won a corner down the right. Berrett’s delivery eventually boomeranged back to him – via Liam Noble – and when Livesey drew a Bywater parry from the next cross, Miller slid in to equalise.

Six minutes later, United’s Scottish top scorer was upstaged by his countryman. Loy, who has delivered everything but goals in his bright run in the side, started making up for time when he accepted a Miller pass, danced into shooting space and then dispatched a missile past Bywater.

Shortly before Loy’s stunner, Madine had been thwarted by Collin. Shortly after it, the Owls man picked up his first booking, for backchat to Tierney after a handball decision. Megson then threw on Lowe and Jermaine Johnson for O’Grady and O’Connor, but five minutes later Carlisle were attacking with gusto once again: a deft Miller flick, a strong Taiwo run, and then a convincing low finish from Noble.

What followed confirmed the suspicion that it was no longer Wednesday’s night. Briefly interrupting Carlisle’s quickstepping passing moves, Marshall pulled a succession of long throws from his personal arsenal but two of these were deemed illegal by the referee’s assistant. Madine was then pulled up for another handball, and finally saw red for a late challenge on Tavernier near the touchline.

Megson was duly deprived of his leading scorer for the closing salvos, possibly a victim of his own height addiction (had he left on the slightly shorter but less volatile O’Grady, Wednesday’s boss would have been able to tackle their deficit with 11 men). Instead, it was one of his remaining bunch of six-footers – Jones – who met a Marshall cross in the 88th minute to tee up the nervy finale.

Lowe, just back from injury, can normally be relied upon to nail a free shot, but fortune deserted the ex-Bury sniper when he missed Wednesday’s final opportunity. By that stage, Carlisle were yearning for the whistle.

By the time it came, Madine was probably yearning to be anywhere else in the world.

ADAM COLLIN – Had to be strong during Owls’ late siege and stood up to the challenge impressively.

JAMES TAVERNIER – A dynamic performance that revealed the young loanee’s character in spades after Charlton struggle.

PETER MURPHY – Will face no more difficult opponent than Marshall this season but Murphy did his left-back duties intelligently.

DANNY LIVESEY – A tower of strength at the back, looked like his old self as he repeatedly put himself in harm’s way for the cause.

LUBO MICHALIK – Justified his return with a commanding display that silenced and then frustrated Madine.

TOM TAIWO – No blade went untrodden by the non-stop Taiwo, who contributed heaps in defence and attack, including assist for Noble.

JAMES BERRETT – Kept testing Owls with set-pieces and was sharp in his use of the ball as Carlisle stormed back at visitors.

LIAM NOBLE – Made the ball talk in the second half and put away Carlisle’s winner with aplomb.

JP MCGOVERN – Showed some quality on the ball after the break to pose his old club some problems.

RORY LOY – The goal he and fans have been waiting for – a missile of a finish, to cap a rousing display.

LEE MILLER – Against imposing centre-halves, Miller stitched it all together perfectly, and added a poacher’s goal to his tally.

Not used: Mark Gillespie, Francois Zoko, Craig Curran, Jeremy Helan, Stephen O’Halloran.

Goals: Miller 50, Loy 56, Noble 65

Booked: Berrett

Sheffield Wednesday: Bywater, Buxton, Bennett, Batth, Jones, Semedo, Lines, O’Connor (Johnson 61), Marshall, Madine, O’Grady (Lowe 61). Not used: Prutton, Palmer, O’Donnell.

Goals: Marshall 36, Jones 88

Booked: Jones, Madine, O’Connor, Lines, Johnson

Sent off: Madine

Ref: Paul Tierney (Lancashire)

Crowd: 6,058 (962 away fans)

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