Carlisle United 3 Aston Villa U21 1: Josh Dixon made a highly welcome Carlisle United debut as the Blues eased to victory against Aston Villa's Under-21s in their final EFL Trophy group game.

The young Cumbrian midfielder came on as a substitute in the first half - his first senior outing after two years out with consecutive cruciate knee ligament injuries.

Dixon claimed an assist as Gime Toure headed home the Blues' second goal from the 19-year-old's free-kick.

Either side of that, Micah Obiero shot his first United goal and Gavin Reilly ended his wait for a Blues goal, sub Harrison Sonha getting Villa's late consolation.

Dixon's 16th-minutes arrival from the bench, after his recovery from consecutive cruciate knee ligament injuries, came at a cost, with Connor Malley having limped off after 16 minutes.

Dixon was applauded by the Blues contingent in the Main Stand as he came on, following a foot injury to loanee Malley, who was unable to continue after going down as the Cumbrians attacked.

Charlie Farr went close early on for Aston Villa's Under-21s, with United's Obiero denied by visiting keeper Akos Onodi on 18 minutes.

Taylor Charters then had a close-range goal disallowed for a foul in the build-up following a Blues free-kick.

Dixon was in the thick of the action, the young pro taking corners and, on the half-hour, almost setting up Jack Armer with a fine curling pass.

Obiero then pounced to put United in front, making no mistake as an Omari Patrick header, saved by Onadi, broke into his path after a Toure cross from the left.

Carlisle were largely on top and Toure went close with a free-kick which Onodi tipped over in the 40th minute, Reilly then sending a low effort across goal.

Tyreik Wright, with a 30-yard free-kick, came close to a leveller for Villa shortly before half-time, his effort sailing narrowly wide, with Arjan Raikhy then seeing a low effort from closer in deflect off target.

Carlisle made another change at the break, giving keeper Magnus Norman a 45-minute outing in place of Marcus Dewhurst.

In the first minute of the second half, a fine Obiero cross was headed against the bar by Toure with a defender taking the dropping ball off Reilly's toe as the Scot prepared to score.

Cumbrian Charters, in his first full 90 minutes for the first team, went close with a low effort from 20 yards as Carlisle remained in charge against Mark Delaney's side.

And Toure then got on the scoresheet when Dixon's deep free-kick found him at the far post to head in.

Reilly made it three as he was quick to react to a Villa defensive error, drive forward and keep his composure to score with a measured low finish.

Onodi then denied Max Hunt a Carlisle fourth as the big defender attacked a corner, with teenage winger Lewis Bell having replaced Patrick for the final half hour.

Bell almost added to United's tally as he took on Revan, but the Villa man blocked his shot after a jinking run - and at the other end, Revan then saw a near-post shot deflect into the side-netting.

Villa then got a consolation goal back on 82 minutes when sub Sonha arrived in space to drive home a cross from the left, but Carlisle's victory was seldom under threat.

United boss Chris Beech rung the changes for the game,with defensive signing Rhys Bennett and Obiero making their first starts and Armer, Charters, Toure, Hunt, Malley and Danny Devine called up, the latter at right-back.

Beech also named three first-year youth players on the bench - striker Sam Fishburn and defenders Josh Barnett and Max Kilsby, first-year pro Tom Wilson also making the squad with the defender also back from injury.

The game was a dead rubber with neither side able to qualify from the Trophy's northern group A.

United: Dewhurst (Norman 46), Hunt, Bennett, Armer, Devine, Charters, Malley (Dixon 16), Obiero, Toure, Patrick (Bell 56), Reilly. Not used: Wilson, Fishburn, Barnett, Kilsby. 

Goals: Obiero 32, Toure 55, Reilly 67. 

Booked: Devine, Obiero. 

Aston Villa: Onodi, D Revan, C Rowe (Chrisene 60), Wright, Farr, S Revan, Appiah, Raikhy (Lindley 80), Young, Sylla (Sohna 70), Bogarde. Not used: Marshall, Swinkels, Rowe.

Goal: Sonha 82.

Booked: Farr, Appiah. 

Ref: Marc Edwards.