AFC Fylde 0 Carlisle United 1: There were plenty of positive signs to take from Carlisle United’s latest pre-season friendly as Hallam Hope struck late on to give the Blues a narrow victory against National League side AFC Fylde.

Now with less than a fortnight to go before United begin their 2018/19 League Two season at Exeter, there are, of course, still plenty of areas to work on, too.

But a productive first Blues appearance for loan striker Jerry Yates, a clean-sheet, the return from injury of Jamie Devitt, summer signing Gary Miller and Richie Bennett and, ultimately, a win left plenty of grounds for optimism for Carlisle fans as they departed Mill Farm on Saturday.

Indeed, it was John Sheridan’s men that started the brighter of the two teams.

Captain Danny Grainger had United’s first opportunity on the fifth minute, smashing a right-footed effort well over the bar, before Irish playmaker Devitt almost picked out Yates a minute later with a menacing right-wing cross.

Hope then had the best of Carlisle’s early chances on eight minutes, only for the former Bury man to bend his effort narrowly wide of AFC Fylde keeper Jay Lynch’s right-hand post.

One of two AFC Fylde trialists in their starting line-up then delivered a dangerous cross from the right flank on the 14th minute. Experienced campaigner Gary Liddle was equal to the task, though, and did just enough to clear the danger for United.

Two minutes later, the hosts, managed by former Tranmere and Bury player Dave Challinor, had an even better opportunity to break the deadlock.

A Carlisle defensive mix-up presented Serhat Tasdemir with a shooting chance with keeper Joe Fryer out of his goal, but Tasdemir failed to hit the target with Blues defenders rushing back on to their own goal-line.

Both teams then created openings at either end in quick succession.

Blackpool-born midfielder Joe Cardle, a recent addition from Scottish Championship team Dunfermline, crossed for Danny Phillskirk who glanced a header wide with 24 minutes played.

Soon after at the other end, Devitt was heavily involved in the action. He forced Lynch into a save before then crossing for Bennett. The ex-Barrow man met Devitt’s right-wing cross well but only powered his effort on to the crossbar.

Just after the half-hour mark, Carlisle again threatened the AFC Fylde goal as goalkeeper Lynch had to be alive to palm away Hope’s shot-cum-cross.

A swift counter-attack from the visitors then saw Regan Slater and Yates, who signed for United on loan on Friday from Sheffield United and Rotherham respectively, combine with the latter unleashing a weak shot which was easily gathered by Lynch.

Tasdemir was impressing for the hosts and called the Cumbrians’ Middlesbrough loan keeper Fryer into action three minutes before the break with the 22-year-old flying away to his left to make a good stop.

It was the Blues that had the last chance of the first period, although Devitt was wasteful with his free-kick from a good area which sailed wide.

Both sides made changes at the break but it was United who had the first opportunity after the restart. Lynch doing well to parry a Hope strike that had swerved viciously.

Shortly before the hour mark, AFC Fylde again threatened through Cardle. He delivered from the left wing but Phillskirk, this time, couldn’t quite get on the end of the cross.

The Coasters’ best chance then came midway through the second half. Zaine Francis-Angol crossed from the left for substitute Danny Rowe whose close-range shot was blocked by Carlisle’s substitute goalkeeper Adam Collin before a trialist, somehow, failed to convert the follow-up.

Another home trialist, one of eight in AFC Fylde’s squad, then broke through on goal on 72 minutes, only to fluff the shot.

As the hosts started to stage an impressive finish, substitute Ryan Croasdale went close before Rowe hit the bar.

After more good work by an AFC Fylde trialist had ended with an effort that curled over on the 83rd minute, Rowe then drilled a free-kick from an excellent position inches wide, two minutes later.

And the visitors made the home team pay for these missed opportunities, striking late to claim the victory.

Hope latched on to a loose ball in midfield and drove forward before he unleashed a long-range effort that took a deflection off a home defender and sailed into the back of Lynch’s net.

With the start of the league season just around the corner, United will travel to Workington Reds’ Borough Park tomorrow evening.

They then conclude their pre-season campaign at home to League One team Bradford on Saturday.