Workington Reds 0 Carlisle United 3: The journey from academy prodigy to youth international to loaned-out hopeful to reliable League Two goal-grabber is paved with pitfalls. Ryan Edmondson will avoid many of them if he continues like this.

Two goals against Workington Reds in the July sun won’t count for a vast amount when the real stuff begins. But in terms of finding his straps after the first permanent transfer of his senior career, the striker can be satisfied with his early work.

Edmondson has only just turned 21 yet is one of those players who seems to have been around a long time. Leeds United signed him from York City, nurtured him then dispatched him to Aberdeen, Northampton Town, Fleetwood Town and Port Vale in the name of development.

READ MORE: Workington Reds 0-3 Carlisle United - as it happened!

The ultimate bar at Elland Road proved too high. Edmondson’s challenge now is to build a career from down the divisions. Those behind the scenes at Carlisle speak well of his attitude and appetite. On Saturday, they could nod approvingly about his penalty-box work too.

News and Star: Tobi Sho-Silva congratulates Ryan EdmondsonTobi Sho-Silva congratulates Ryan Edmondson

Edmondson’s devil in the 18-yard zone was the difference between a relatively comfortable Carlisle win and an awkwardly tight contest against Danny Grainger’s Reds. Before the half-hour mark he had two goals and meant a willing and certainly decent Workington team were always chasing.

Edmondson had good supply with both and had enough about him to render the argument short when up against Grainger’s last lines of defence. Firstly, he was picked out by the sort of Jamie Devitt cross that makes you want to walk up to the midfielder with a pen and contract.

Not so fast. Still early days. Anyway – Edmondson’s header was saved by Jim Atkinson but the rebound was put away with ease. A while later, Callum Guy found the striker with a searching ball down the middle and there was composure in Edmondson’s high, clipped finish.

News and Star: Edmondson fires his second goalEdmondson fires his second goal

A dead leg restricted him to 45 minutes rather than the planned 60. Paul Simpson, though, is bound to like what he’s seen so far. United, the manager has made clear, lacked a “focal point” in a number nine shirt last season, or at least one of physical stature.

Edmondson was signed to be that man, or at the very least grow into the status. His display in the toughest of United’s three non-league friendlies puts him firmly in the conversation for starting places against Crawley so far.

United were otherwise fine without being excellent. Gavin Skelton admitted afterwards it had not been a sparkling Carlisle display. There were good cameos – Guy and Devitt were a canny central midfield combination for an hour, Owen Moxon’s passing continued to look the business in his 30 minutes – without many reasons to leap to excited conclusions.

News and Star: Paul Simpson looks on from the touchlinePaul Simpson looks on from the touchline

Early July isn’t, still, the time for that, and in fairness to Workington they gave United the sort of contest expected on a hot afternoon. Half of Grainger’s side are exiles from the Brunton Park professional scene, others have good CVs in the game. The manager himself is of high calibre for their level.

Reds attempted good football, creative movement. They lacked punch in the last third but went up against United gamely otherwise. Conor Tinnion’s ball-playing was an obvious early feature before Edmondson opened the scoring, while a cleaner touch from Keelan Leslie could have made more of a half-chance near Carlisle’s box.

News and Star: Matty Clarke goes down under Jack Armer's challengeMatty Clarke goes down under Jack Armer's challenge

Simpson clearly favours a back three, while there was plenty of work at wing-back for the two Jacks, Ellis and Armer, to get through. Guy and Devitt saw to it that Carlisle had control more often than not, though Bobby Carroll, Workington’s former Everton academy midfielder, snapped hungrily at Jordan Gibson’s heels on several occasions, while Ben Hughes offered a bright outlet down the home right.

The post denied Guy an imaginative Carlisle goal early in the second half, the captain launching the ball over Atkinson from long range, while Devitt cleared the bar after some good work from Ellis. There then came United’s bevy of 60-minute substitutions, after which Liam Lightfoot missed Workington’s best chance, sending a free header too high when meeting a corner.

News and Star: Morgan Feeney forces a late own-goal to make it 3-0Morgan Feeney forces a late own-goal to make it 3-0

Simpson had the luxury of making more changes than Grainger, and among those fielded in the second half were some of the teenage tyros who’ve made an early mark in pre-season. Kai Nugent is the most slight of them physically but the midfielder has good composure and anticipation, and he was not shy of taking up some positive positions as things ticked down.

One run in the 75th minute, after Sonny Hilton had skilfully helped on a Moxon ball, saw Nugent scamper through, only for Atkinson to save his shot. That was the last of things in terms of real chances until the final seconds, when a corner and Morgan Feeney pressured a Reds trialist defender into an own-goal at the far post.

It was probably a goal more than Reds deserved to ship, and shouldn’t tarnish what Grainger’s hopefuls put into it. As for Carlisle, they now step up to bigger challenges, and they have a number nine in good early order as they do so.