Carlisle United rounded off their pre-season programme with a goalless draw at Morecambe.

But what did we learn from the Blues’ last friendly before the new campaign? Let’s take a closer look…


With Brennan Dickenson sidelined with a dead leg, this was an opportunity for Jack Armer to show his readiness in the left wing-back position.

News and Star: Jack Armer on the ballJack Armer on the ball

It’s fair to say he did that with a highly energetic performance at the Mazuma Stadium.

Paul Simpson wants his wing-backs to gobble up plenty of turf in an attacking sense, as well as minding the back door.

Armer was alert to the space in front of him from an early stage as he powered forward, often onto passes from the creative Owen Moxon.

The former Preston man’s crossing got better as the game went on too and, given the requirements of his particular position – and the fact he may well be needed against Crawley whatever Simpson’s preference – this was certainly a welcome showing from Armer.


All is well with the world. Morgan Feeney is back, throwing himself into challenges, heading away breezeblocks, organising, cajoling, stepping in with defensive alertness.

News and Star: Morgan Feeney in action at MorecambeMorgan Feeney in action at Morecambe

The head injury that cut short his afternoon against Bolton, and prevented his involvement against Livingston, has clearly been dealt with.

On Saturday, with Feeney back in defence, it was simply another reminder of why he is so important and prominent to Simpson’s United.

Feeney didn’t give Morecambe an inch, never ducked from any of his tasks at the heart of Carlisle’s back three, also showing sound anticipation with his less combative contributions.

All in all, you know what you get with the former Everton man, and in general what you get is very good.

Simpson, who entrusted Feeney with the armband despite Callum Guy also starting the game, appears to be very much backing the 23-year-old to be at the forefront in 2022/23.


Exactly who occupies United’s central midfield against Crawley on Saturday is an interesting judgement call from Simpson.

News and Star: Jordan GibsonJordan Gibson

Depending on his decision on Jamie Devitt’s future, it would be no surprise if the manager went with the players selected on Saturday.

Callum Guy had a good afternoon in the defensive sense, doing the ugly parts of the game well, buzzing into challenges, nudging and working the ball simply.

Others in the United side may be more creative but Guy at his best has a sound understanding of midfield positioning which allows others to flourish.

On that subject – Jordan Gibson had a good game here, at the heart of Carlisle’s press and their ability to spin Morecambe quickly and fashion opportunities out of not very much.

Gibson’s ideal position may be in the No10 slot, but he was industrious in a more orthodox midfield area and also has the capability to open things up, whilst also being capable of switching to the right.

And then there is…


When Owen Moxon took his leave in the closing stages on Saturday, he may have heard a song which must mean a lot to a local-born player.

News and Star: Owen MoxonOwen Moxon

“Owen Moxon, he’s one of our own,” the travelling fans behind the goal chorused.

Carlisle’s supporters were in lively mood considering this was a pre-season friendly. All the same, Moxon’s performances so far have been full of encouragement. He has earned that early tune.

Simpson again entrusted the Carlisle-born midfielder with heavy responsibility against the Shrimps. Moxon had licence to get forward, drive United into good positions, and also dominate corner-taking duties.

In all those departments he showed up well and, considering he has only just stepped up from part-time football, these are certainly promising days for the former Annan Athletic man.

How he now fares in the heat of League Two battle is one of the more fascinating aspects of what lies ahead for the Blues.


Paul Simpson was more pleased with United’s fitness and ability to carry out his tactical instructions than anything else at Morecambe.

News and Star: Jordan Gibson, left, and Fin Back team up against MorecambeJordan Gibson, left, and Fin Back team up against Morecambe

More often than not, it was easy to see why.

Carlisle set the tone through their appetite to get at Morecambe, particularly to win the ball back and go at them again.

They did so snappily, relentlessly. Danny Livesey, the former Blues favourite on BBC Radio Cumbria duty, was impressed by this aspect of their game.

Carlisle need to be in prime shape, and with suitable players, to go about things this way. They have tried it before with other managers and, well, you know how it’s gone.

Simpson, by contrast, appears to have tailored things more closely, in terms of personnel and endurance demands and capabilities.

Now it boils down to how well they can repeat it, whilst also staying secure at the back (Morecambe did nearly pounce on the break a couple of times), in the meaningful action.


The only flaw on Saturday was the nil next to United’s name. It was a second friendly without scoring, though in mitigation these games have come against Scottish Premiership (Livingston) and League One (Morecambe) sides.

News and Star: Kristian Dennis goes up for a header in the Morecambe boxKristian Dennis goes up for a header in the Morecambe box

This is unlikely to trouble Simpson unduly given the way they performed generally in Lancashire, and the number of opportunities they created.

There were times against Morecambe when Carlisle’s final ball from promising positions lacked precision.

On other occasions they did not quite have the smarts to outwit Derek Adams’ strong defenders, notably the excellent Liam Gibson.

One thing for sure, though, is that United’s current style is going to make openings.

When they materialise against Crawley and the rest in League Two, being sharp on the dancefloor will be essential.