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Friday, 25 April 2014

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Carlisle Utd dump Bristol City out of Carling Cup

Bristol City 0 Carlisle United 2: A brute of a hangover awaited Scrumpy the Robin this morning, but all the cider in the West Country couldn’t blot out the memory of what Carlisle United did to Bristol City last night.

Carlisle action photo
Joe Anyinsah battles for the ball

In an explosion of feathers, the Championship club’s mascot and all their red-shirted followers saw their team dispatched from the Carling Cup at the end of a highly convincing team performance from the Blues.

To be clear from the outset: this was no knockout competition smash-and-grab. No injustice was inflicted on the higher-ranked club. Carlisle unquestionably deserve their place in the third round draw for the first time in 34 years. With second-half goals from Scott Dobie and Gary Madine, they did not so much sneak through as leap joyously into the hat.

That three-and-a-half decade anomaly had to be dealt with eventually, but a high price would have been laid against it coming last night with such Cumbrian conviction. “Carlisle are no mugs, but we are favourites,” was the pre-match view of the City midfielder, Marvin Elliott. Only now can he appreciate the truth of the first part of that statement.

In defence, United were resolute and error-free. In midfield their appetite and quality defined the night. In attack, they were troublesome and, eventually, clinical. String those three elements together and your chances of victory are generally high. But quite the best thing to be said about Carlisle’s display last night is that they simply looked a better football team than their opponents from the division above.

“The players get all the plaudits,” said their contented manager, Greg Abbott. Not quite. At the heart of this triumph was a tactical plan from Abbott which obliged his players to keep a solid shape and then snap into Bristol City whenever they entered the United half. The assumption was that Gary Johnson’s men would not have the creative smarts to get around such disciplined rivals. Thanks to the way Abbott’s players carried out his demands, the assumption was correct.

There might not have been a more complete performance during Abbott’s nine-month reign – and yes, that statement has been scanned for exaggeration. There were few weaknesses in black shirts last night, no obvious room for dramatic improvement. From the encouraging first half to the almost one-sided second, it was a game that put a bullet through any Cumbrian pessimism.

Fully 190 Carlisle fans filed into Ashton Gate’s Wedlock Stand and then watched a little cup romance settle on this tie. Bristol City’s third minute attack, and a squandered header from John Akinde, was a mirage of Championship superiority, for the expected sweep of home dominance never came.

Instead, Carlisle – with fit-again captain Paul Thirlwell and his young accomplice Tom Taiwo operating to telling effect in midfield – gradually rose into the contest.

A few token attacks were exchanged before United made their first meaningful raid. Joe Anyinsah, against his former club, shielded the ball well on the left and fed Matty Robson, whose soaring cross cleared the City defence and Scott Dobie, but dropped invitingly for David Raven at the back stick. Regrettably, the full-back was only able to smash the bouncing ball into the turf and watch it rear up and onto the roof of Dean Gerken’s net.

Another Anyinsah surge led to a quick chance for Taiwo which the teenager sliced wide. At the other end, Akinde’s flick allowed Haynes to tear past Danny Livesey, only for the Carlisle man to recover with a superb saving tackle in the penalty box.

Beyond a Lee Johnson shot which Lenny Pidgeley comfortably held, the hosts were punching few genuine holes in Carlisle’s rearguard, with Livesey fronting up magnificently to the task and Peter Murphy equally steady a few yards to the left.

Taiwo, so adept at denying his opponents useful space in midfield, then came within a few millimetres of making lasting impact at the other end. First, Elliott shut down an Anyinsah run and went to ground, but then the United frontman hustled back possession and rolled the ball to Taiwo, who instantly bent a left-footer towards the top corner from 25 yards and saw it bounce off the post and wide, with Gerken beaten.

The second half opened with even more Carlisle pressure. Livesey hooked a volley over the bar, Anyinsah whistled a 30-yarder just off target and Raven tested Gerken before the merited goal finally game.

Anyinsah, sharp and influential, held the ball up and then invited Robson to sprint at Christian Ribeiro down the left. The former Hartlepool man sent over an encouraging low cross, and Dobie applied the sliding finish.

Here was the Cumbrian’s riposte to arguments that he should be first to make way for the new signing Richard Offiong, who watched his new team-mates from the dugout last night. Soon after his goal, Dobie was replaced by Madine, who trotted into battle with his own set of problems for the Bristol rearguard.

Such was Johnson’s desperation now that a giant defender Jamie McCombe, was summoned from the bench to join their attack. He quickly announced himself with a sliding effort from Akinde’s pass, but the ball soared over Pidgeley’s bar.

Carlisle’s own attacks remained the more plausible. Graham Kavanagh, on for Thirlwell, fed the raiding Robson on the left of the box, and the winger’s promising shot rebounded off a Bristol body.

Then United took the goal that sealed the tie. First, a home attack was dismantled and Taiwo sent Anyinsah scampering down the right. The forward’s persistent run took him into the area and allowed him to set up Madine, who clipped home with confidence.

There was token late Bristol pressure, but nothing that was beyond the will of Livesey, Murphy and their determined colleagues. “We defended fantastically well,” observed Abbott, and no argument greets that version of events today.

As at Leeds and Leicester last season, Abbott’s United appeared content on a sizeable stage here. The trick, of course, is repeating it in the less remarkable engagements, such as this Saturday’s trip to Leyton Orient in the league (and those recent home skirmishes against Brentford and Exeter, when no points were tacked onto Carlisle’s total).

What also deserves highlighting is the fact United have emerged from away matches at Millwall, Stockport and Bristol City in the last 11 days with one useful draw and two belting wins. That tells you Carlisle are taking a psychological freedom on their travels which they have yet to summon at Brunton Park.

They can get round to that, surely, after tipping 34 years of League Cup failure down the drain.

Have your say

Amazing result considering the performances we saw against Brentford and Oldham a couple of weeks ago! Keep it up lads and get some points in the bag. Can't wait to get down to Brisbane Road Saturday! Come on you Blues!!!

Posted by Linda on 28 August 2009 at 10:06

Well done it takes time to bring new faces
to play tgether but you seem to be on the up
it a great a club

Posted by paul caddick on 28 August 2009 at 09:28

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