Carlisle Utd 2 Crawley Town 1: Goals from Harry McKirdy and Stefan Scougall earned Carlisle United an opening-day league win for the first time in nine years.

They scored either side of a Bez Lubala goal to see off Crawley, who had Lewis Young sent off.

Carlisle were controversially denied another goal when a deflected Scougall attempt appeared to cross the line.

Both sides had chances in an eventful game as United held on for the points in front of a 4,833 crowd.

United went in front in the sixth minute as ex-Aston Villa man McKirdy, one of seven debutants in the home side, pounced to head home after a whipped shot from Nathan Thomas had been parried into the air by Crawley keeper Glenn Morris.

The sixth-minute opener came moments after United should have gone behind, when Panutche Camara went clean through but shot wide.

Crawley did, though, level on 16 minutes through Lubala.

He got the better of right-back Christie Elliott and slotted accurately across new captain Adam Collin and into the bottom right corner of the net.

That capped a swift fightback from Gabriele Cioffi's visitors, who had responded well to going behind and looked the more useful side in this period.

Thomas tried to get United back on the front foot after some dangerous passing and pressing from Crawley.

Jon Mellish almost set something up with an overlapping run from left-back before Collin palmed away a David Sesay cross.

Scougall then restored Carlisle United's lead after 32 minutes.

The Scot arrived to crash in a shot off the crossbar after a Thomas cross had broken his way, ref James Oldham having played an advantage after Jack Bridge had been fouled in midfield.

The midfielder then chased back well to deny Ollie Palmer before Thomas came millimetres away from a Carlisle third, his first-time curling effort going a fraction wide of the left-hand post.

The Sheffield United loan man then had penalty appeals turned down as he went down in the box.

After the break McKirdy saw a deflected shot go narrowly wide, Crawley then close through Filipe Morais before a crucial double save from Collin thwarted Camara and Palmer.

United were then denied a third on 74 minutes when Scougall's deflected shot seemed to spin over the line before it was hooked clear, left-back Mellish unable to connect as the ensuing scramble broke his way.

Morais put another attempt wide for the visitors, who saw boss Cioffi booked late in the second half for his protests to the officials.

Collin denied Young before a late set-to involving Young and sub Jack Iredale saw the Crawley man shown a straight red card. Iredale and Jack Bridge then failed to make it three for Carlisle in the last seconds. 

The second half saw new signings Ryan Loft and Canice Carroll introduced along with Iredale.

Hallam Hope missed the game through injury and manager Pressley said he is unlikely to return at Swindon next weekend.

United's boss said while Hope's hamstring tear appears to have healed, there appears a nerve problem connected to the injury and Hope will be assessed on Monday.

Latest signing Mo Sagaf was not registered as a United player in time to be eligble for the game.

United: Collin, Elliott, Mellish, Webster, Knight-Percival, Jones, Scougall, Bridge, McKirdy (Carroll 75), Thomas (Iredale 80), Olomola (Loft 64). Not used: Gray, Hayden, Galloway, Branthwaite.

Crawley: Morris, Young, Dallison, Tunnicliffe, Ferguson, Sesay, Bulman (Grego-Cox 46), Morais, Camara, Lubala (Nathaniel-George 66), Palmer (Bloomfield 63). Not used: Luyambula, Galach, Payne, Doherty.

Ref: James Oldham

Crowd: 4,833 (81 Crawley fans)