Carlisle United 3 Newport County 2

Carlisle United erased the disappointment of the weekend’s defeat with a hard-fought win over league leaders Newport County under the floodlights at Brunton Park.

Carlisle went into the game on the back of their first league defeat in six games against Exeter, and the League Two leaders had won five games on the bounce prior to last night’s game.

United had to weather a late storm after Newport scored twice in the final 10 minutes, but ended up with the three points on a bitterly cold night in Cumbria.

The hosts had the better of the opening exchanges, but couldn’t quite find that final ball in the first ten minutes.

Their early pressure paid off when an inch-perfect long ball from Nick Anderton at the back found the run of Joshua Kayode, who went down under a challenge from Ryan Haines.

Referee Seb Stockbridge had no hesitation and pointed to the spot to hand the home side an early chance to get their noses in front and collect the reward for all of their early endeavour.

Up stepped Alessandra, who made no mistake and, cool as you like, slotted the ball into the bottom left corner to put United ahead on 15 minutes.

Townsend got a hand to it, but couldn’t keep it out.

Newport looked rattled by United’s high-pressing game and couldn’t keep hold of the ball.

The Exiles gave away a number of free-kicks on United’s left-hand side and Jon Mellish almost added to his impressive goal tally this season, but his flick from Callum Guy’s free-kick went wide of the post.

County’s skipper Joss Labadie was shown the first card for a foul on Mellish on 22 minutes.

Two minutes later, he called Paul Farman into action for the first time on the night with a powerful shot from distance.

Labadie went down after taking on the shot, and despite trying to play on, he couldn’t continue and was replaced by former Carlisle man Jamie Devitt on 27 minutes.

The attacking midfielder made 110 appearances for United in a three-year spell, scoring 21 goals and proved to be a very popular figure on the terraces with some calling for him to return to the club in the summer due to his talent in unlocking defences.

United continued to press well and force Newport back – Nick Townsend was repeatedly forced to send the ball long and allow Carlisle to regain possession.

Head coach Chris Beech had clearly done his homework, and wasn’t about to allow the Exiles to play out from the back.

Carlisle were unlucky not to add to their lead after a succession of chances in the closing minutes of the first half.

The first came on 39 minutes – Kayode picked up a loose ball in the centre of the park and drove at the heart of County’s defence before slipping in Gavin Reilly.

The United man was surrounded by defenders but managed to get a shot away through the tangle of bodies.

Unfortunately for the Blues' number 10, his placed effort went agonisingly close and came back off the post.

Three minutes later, United went close again thanks to more good work from the impressive Kayode.

He stood his man up and picked out Joe Riley on the edge of the box, but his curling effort landed on the roof of the net.

Reilly then missed a golden chance to go two-up at the death. A good pass from Alessandra slipped him in one-on-one but his effort was scuffed wide and County went into the break fortunate to be just one goal behind.

The Exiles came out for the second half looking as though they had a point to prove – Matt Dolan moved into midfield and it looked as though it was a masterstroke from manager Michael Flynn as the opposition piled the pressure on United.

A succession of corners for County followed but the Carlisle defence just about held firm.

United continued to live dangerously and conceded further corners. A short ball was worked into Josh Sheehan but his half-volley was blazed over the bar.

Newport’s pressure came to nought, however, and it was that man again – Jon Mellish – who doubled the lead.

Omari Patrick came on to replace Reilly and made an immediate impact with a great run forward past two defenders which opened up space for Mellish on the left-hand side of the box and he fired in an absolute rocket into the roof of the net for his seventh goal of the season.

Patrick continued to cause Newport all sorts of problems as his neat flick into the path of Anderton almost made it 3-0, but the skipper’s shot was palmed onto the post by Townsend as Brandon Cooper stayed down for County on the edge of the box.

County came within a whisker of halving the deficit on 79 minutes, when a Dolan shot from distance beat Farman but came back off the post.

The ball fell to Padraig Amond a few yards out, but the Newport number nine somehow missed from two yards.

Moments later, United Put the gloss on a fantastic performance with a brilliant breakaway goal.

A delightful touch from Alessandra set Carlisle on the break, before Kayode carried the ball forward. The winger slipped it in to Mellish who smashed in his second of the night and his eighth of the season.

Newport pulled a goal back on 84 minutes, with former Carlisle fan-favourite Devitt slotting home from close range.

United’s nerves were jangling in the final moments when Sheehan pulled back another goal in the 93rd minute, curling the ball past Farman – but it wasn’t enough and the Cumbrians held on for a well-deserved win.

New signing Micah Obiero had a chance to score his fourth at the death, but he couldn’t find the net after taking it past Townsend.

The three points propelled United up to fifth in the table, while the visitor’s lead at the top of League 2 was cut to just two points.


Carlisle United: Farman, Tanner, Anderton, Hayden, Riley (Furman), Guy, Alessandra, Reilly (Patrick, 65), Mellish, McDonald, Kayode (Obiero, 90). Not used: Dewhurst, Hunt, Charters, Malley

Goals: Alessandra (P) 15 Mellish, 68, 81

Newport County: Townsend, Haynes (Ellison 70), Labadie (Devitt, 28), Cooper, Willmott, Dolan, Amond, Sheehan, Abrahams (Proctor, 45), Bennett, Demetriou. Not used: King, Baker, Twine, Lewis

Goals: Devitt 84, Sheehan 90+3

Man of the Match: Jon Mellish

Referee: Seb Stockbridge