Carlisle Utd fight back to beat Morecambe in Johnstone's trophy
Last updated at 13:18, Wednesday, 02 September 2009
Morecambe 2 Carlisle United 2 (Carlisle win 4-2 on pens): Adam Collin has seen it all in one damp evening of first-team football.
Carlisle United’s second-choice goalkeeper experienced every emotional shade in the first round of an unglamorous competition known to some as the Paint Pot.
A couple of hours’ action in the first round of the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy has told Lenny Pidgeley’s understudy most of the things he needs to know about professional life. He can write the book now.
Here is the abridged version of the 24-year-old’s night: concedes goal three minutes into his debut; wanders off his line and towards the blame for Morecambe’s second strike; nearly gifts the League Two side a third after a moment of slapstick; then emerges as Carlisle’s hero after two stupendous penalty shoot-out saves.
Before this contest jolted into life, the eye fell on Greg Abbott’s re-jigged Carlisle team and looked for a fringe player who might rise to prominence at this modest Lancashire stage. For various reasons, Collin became that man.
Until Graham Kavanagh popped up with a late goal to push this tie towards penalties, the top line of this story would have dwelt on the goalkeeper’s stroll in the direction of Morecambe Bay which enabled Wayne Curtis to lob the Shrimps’ into a 2-1 lead in the 56th minute. Thanks to Kavanagh, Collin received a chance to atone in the shoot-out. With reflex saves to deny Mark Duffy and Curtis from 12 yards, the former Workington Reds custodian splendidly obliged.
Collin’s individual display was, in fact, a measuring stick for Carlisle’s overall performance last night: error-strewn but persistent and ultimately victorious. Abbott’s team were at times alarmingly sluggish against their seaside hosts; at others they impressed with their doggedness and will.
A starting line-up which contained Collin, Tony Kane, Evan Horwood, Michael Burns and Gary Madine told you precisely how keen Abbott was to experiment with some fresh faces who are currently a notch down from his regular first-team. Add the full debutant striker Richard Offiong to that list and you had an assembly of players who were asked to string together a clean, matchwinning performance from a standing start.
Not simple, it’s fair to say. But no excuse for the patchy nature of Carlisle’s play – especially in the first half – which needed Kavanagh’s penalty-box wiles to protect their unbeaten record both in cup competitions and in all away fixtures so far this season.
Morecambe launched this modest cup tie with a modest fireworks display as the sides strode from the tunnel. Then they threatened to detonate Carlisle’s interest in the ‘JPT’ by flying at their Cumbrian visitors and forcing an early goal. United’s early lethargy in possession led to Kavanagh being dispossessed in midfield by Craig Stanley, who skipped forward, fed Neil Wainwright on the left, and saw his low cross slid home by the raiding Garry Hunter in the third minute.
This was the classic lower-league ambush, the kind Carlisle inflicted on Bristol City at crucial stages in the Carling Cup last week. The question of how effectively they could respond was answered in stuttering instalments, the first of which saw Offiong swap passes with Kevan Hurst and then misdirect his cross, the second of which should have led to a rapid equaliser from a less likely source.
Peter Murphy, United’s captain for the night, swept out from defence, pinged the ball forward to Offiong and continued his advance. Offiong touched it inside to Hurst, the ex-Scunthorpe man sidestepped a defender and let rip from the edge of the box, Barry Roche parried and the ball popped up perfectly for Murphy in front of goal.
The Dubliner, normally a picture of composure when in contact with the white sphere, this time swung frantically at the chance and screwed it wide.
United had by now settled into the game after their iffy start, and if they were unable to cut Morecambe open at will they at least applied some waves of pressure. Offiong, with a rare burst of pace, drew a foul from Jim Bentley, then Kavanagh and Matty Robson had a brace of shots saved before Carlisle’s player-coach saw a curling free-kick saved by the diving Roche.
Back flew Morecambe. A giant kick from Roche unsettled Murphy, who handled the dropping ball and was booked. The free-kick led to a cross from Hunter and a glance from Curtis which almost let in Dave Artell at the back post. Then a Duffy set-piece was met by Horwood, whose flying header went just over Collin’s crossbar.
On the brink of the break, a Kane cross just evaded Offiong, whose partnership with Madine was only sporadically troubling the hosts. It therefore fell to Kavanagh to supply a more meaningful goal threat, as he did three minutes after the break with a firm, left-footed equaliser from 15 yards following a penetrating run from Horwood.
A renewed buzz about United almost drew an instant second, when Kane fed Madine and the teenager’s cross for Offiong was diverted just over his own bar by Bentley.
Moments later, Carlisle plummeted again. There was a hopeful Morecambe ball down the right, an unsuccessful attempt from Murphy to head clear, and with Collin having fled his line, the burly Curtis deftly sent the ball soaring over United’s stranded keeper and into the net.
When Michael Twiss then picked up a bouncing ball from another route one attack and whacked a fierce shot narrowly wide, the tie indeed appeared to be tipping the way of Sammy McIlroy’s team. And when Kane’s heavy header back to Collin led the goalkeeper to dither in possession, lose it to Curtis and then watch as United’s desperate defenders eventually chase away the threat, you presumed Carlisle’s interest in the competition was destined for a panicky conclusion.
Enter Joe Anyinsah from the bench in place of the tiring Offiong, and a sudden jerking up of Carlisle’s attacking tempo. The former Preston man embarked on a series of threatening runs, one of which led to a blocked shot, another of which saw his fellow sub Gavin Rothery lift a snapshot just over the bar.
Suddenly, United were pounding the Shrimps’ target. They levelled on the stroke of 90 minutes, when Hurst aimed a deep cross into the box, Madine nodded it back and Kavanagh steamed in to bury the header.
Three more injury-time surges from Anyinsah almost wiped out the need for penalties, but Abbott introduced his spot-kick expert Ian Harte from the bench shortly before the shoot-out was confirmed. After watching that crafty piece of management, the eye then fell on Tony Caig, Carlisle’s goalkeeping coach, issuing a pep-talk to Collin as the players assembled after the final whistle.
With his own penalty expertise down in United’s history, Caig was well placed to advise his young charge. And there will have been no more satisfied observer in Christie Park once Collin had leapt to his left to deny Duffy, and then to his right to thwart Curtis and send Carlisle into the second round (with honourably mention to Harte, Hurst, Kane and Madine for nervelessly converting their own kicks).
The ability to force a win out of a) a pressure situation and b) an unconvincing performance isn’t something we’ve witnessed a great deal from the Blues in recent months, so amen to this result. And qualified thanks to Collin, who helped get his new team into a hole and then hauled them back out again.
ADAM COLLIN – Nervous during the game, nerveless in the crucial shoot-out. An eventful debut. 6
TONY KANE – Mixed bag of positive passing and erratic positioning, followed by a superb penalty. 6
EVAN HORWOOD – Competitive display and tried to support attacks, likely to make way for Harte on Saturday. 6
PETER MURPHY – Given a testing night by Morecambe’s frontmen after missing golden chance to equalise early on. 6
DAVID RAVEN – Moved inside to centre-half, and seemed to be Carlisle’s most reliable defender. 6
GRAHAM KAVANAGH – United have their player-coach to thank for vital goals amid an unremarkable performance. 6
MICHAEL BURNS – Some decent moments but generally a quiet night for the ex-Liverpool youngster. 6
MATTY ROBSON – A couple of decent runs in the first half but a largely frustrating night for the winger. 6
KEVAN HURST - Carlisle’s most consistently threatening player, and made no mistake from the spot. 7
GARY MADINE - Did not have the impact he would have hoped for, but made crucial assist for Kavanagh’s last-gasp leveller. 6
RICHARD OFFIONG - Occasionally worried hosts with his pace on full debut, not yet at his fittest or sharpest. 6
Subs: Gavin Rothery (for Robson, 64) – Got involved and came close with a shot; Joe Anyinsah (for Offiong, 73) – Gave United the late spark they needed; Ian Harte (for Burns, 90) – Brought on for the shoot-out and did his duty. Not used: Conor Tinnion, Lenny Pidgeley.
Goals: Kavanagh 48, 90
Morecambe: Roche (Davies 46), Moss (Parrish 55), Artell, Bentley, Stanley, Twiss, Hunter, Curtis, Wainwright, Duffy, Wilson (McStay 68). Subs: Poole, Winters.
Goals: Hunter 3, Curtis 56
Ref: Karl Evans (Greater Manchester)
Crowd: 2,016 (645 Carlisle fans)
Harte scored - 0-1
Artell scored - 1-1
Hurst scored - 1-2
McStay scored - 2-2
Kane scored - 2-3
Duffy saved - 2-3
Madine scored - 2-4
Curtis saved - 2-4
First published at 11:34, Wednesday, 02 September 2009
Published by http://www.newsandstar.co.uk
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