Carlisle United made short work of Kendal Town in their latest pre-season outing – but what did we learn from the 9-0 victory?

Let’s take a closer look.


Ten minutes into the game, and Owen Moxon collects the ball, spots the keeper off his line and floats a delicate chip over him.

News and Star: Paul Simpson on the touchline at KendalPaul Simpson on the touchline at Kendal

The ball narrowly clears the bar and caresses the top of the net. The man in front of the dugout isn’t happy.

“Mox! Shoot properly!”

Needless to say, that was Paul Simpson.

The manager’s demeanour was crystal clear throughout proceedings at Parkside Road and it was an obvious window into why United set about things so fervently.

Even as it became obvious the game was a mismatch, and Carlisle were totting up the goals, Simpson was a keen and vocal presence on the touchline, calling for standards, demanding quality, intensity and control.

Yes, there was a gulf, but Simmo’s United were keen, sharp and relentless. No surprise, really. Expect no change from here.


An eleven-minute hat-trick against a North West Counties side doesn’t tell us a great deal that is new about Jamie Devitt’s ability.

News and Star: Jamie Devitt scores one of his three goalsJamie Devitt scores one of his three goals

All the same – it was good to see the midfielder looking fit, sharp and clearly with a bit between his teeth.

Devitt’s quality is not the debating point when it comes to judging his readiness for a new deal. It is, quite simply, his durability in light of past injuries.

He will have to build on what he did at Kendal over the coming friendlies if Paul Simpson is to hand him the piece of paper and pen many fans hope he will.

United, it’s as plain as day, would be better for a fit and consistent Devitt in 2022/23. Let us hope he makes Simmo’s decision easy in that respect.

Until then, let’s also acknowledge that if any trialist rattled in three goals with such ease in any friendly, we would be wanting to see quite a bit more of him.


Ben Barclay, United’s most recent signing, got a 45-minute loosener in this largely straightforward outing.

News and Star: Barclay sends a steward the wrong way at Kendal...Barclay sends a steward the wrong way at Kendal...

Simpson fielded him on the right of a back three, in an early indication of where Barclay might feature when the serious stuff starts.

There were few serious tests for the Stockport loanee. Kendal’s Steve Yawson was a pacy customer in attack, but most of the action was happening far away from United’s defensive zone.

Only once did the home side sneak in on that side, and United coped with the threat. On another occasion, Yawson tried to test Barclay and the defender showed more than adequate speed to snuff out the threat.

Otherwise, we’ll get a better measure of Barclay in the bigger tests to come. Good, for now, that he is in the ranks with 45 minutes to his name.


Simpson’s decision to give players 45 minutes apiece in these early games has laid the ground for a few obvious early calls.

News and Star: Owen Moxon on the ballOwen Moxon on the ball

In midfield, for instance, we have seen Owen Moxon showcase his passing ability in Carlisle’s first two outings.

The Cumbrian signing from Annan looks to have an impressive range as well as an attacking instinct.

Fascinating to see how he fares against Carlisle’s bigger friendly opponents, Bolton and Morecambe.

Then we will have a clearer picture of how he slots in to a midfield where the more established likes of Callum Guy and Jordan Gibson have also been occupying positions.

Gibson in particular has looked on his toes in these early outings, stealing back possession and making things happen in attacking areas.

For Guy, it’s good to see the captain back into solid action after the injury that cost him the closing weeks of 2021/22.

How Simpson organises a strikeforce where Kristian Dennis, Ryan Edmondson and Tobi Sho-Silva are already among the goals – and with Omari Patrick still to come back in – is another interesting call.

The coming weeks ought to make one or two things a little clearer.


United’s teenage hopefuls have shown up well in these early stages. Nic Bollado looks a confident customer in attack, with Ryan Carr and Kai Nugent not appearing out of place either.

News and Star: Gabe BreezeGabe Breeze

There was also a welcome chance for another young prospect to impress last night, albeit briefly.

Carlisle’s goalkeeping department was not given the most searching examination by Kendal. Tomas Holy was again limited to moments of distribution and a couple of cross-claims.

When Gabe Breeze replaced him on the hour, that’s largely how it remained – other than one moment when Kendal’s Shaun Sailor suddenly burst clean through.

A consolation goal was the likely outcome. But Breeze met the challenge solidly, saving at the midfielder’s feet and keeping Carlisle’s sheet clean.

It was a demonstration of the importance of staying alert when little else has been happening in your domain. It was a small tick for Breeze as Simpson weighs up how best to understudy Holy at the start of 2022/23.


It was also a first sighting of Sonny Hilton in a United shirt and pretty soon it was evident what he is going to bring to the party.

News and Star: Sonny HiltonSonny Hilton

Hilton’s diminutive size lends him a low centre of gravity which, last night, saw his twists, feints and turns too much for Kendal.

He didn’t mess about with the two goals he tucked away, and his care with the ball, just behind Carlisle’s other forwards, was apparent in the first half.

Simpson clearly banks on the Fulham loanee being a locksmith for United in tight games, someone who can apply scalpel rather than bludgeon to find ways through.

Again, the next step is to see how Hilton can shine when a more serious and smothering defensive opposition comes his way.

It’s also yet to be judged how many of these between-the-lines creators – with Jordan Gibson and potentially Jamie Devitt also in that mix – can be accommodated in one XI.

Hilton appears versatile positionally in those attacking departments, and for now it’s good to see him off and running.