Gavin Skelton says Sonny Hilton’s brilliant winner at Gretna should fill the Carlisle United loan man with confidence.

Hilton’s second-half stunner earned the Blues a 1-0 win in last night’s friendly at Raydale Park.

It came on a night when the Fulham loanee got 90 minutes alongside some fellow pros – including new keeper Michael Kelly – and youth players.

Hilton fired home from outside the box in front of watching Blues boss Paul Simpson.

READ MORE: Gretna 0-1 Carlisle United match report

Assistant manager Skelton said: “That will do Sonny’s confidence the world of good.

“Wow, what a finish. It lit up the evening.

“It wasn’t a fantastic spectacle at times. There was lots of hard working, and quality lacked at times – but that was a bit of quality.”

United gave Kelly 45 minutes while defender Corey Whelan got more than an hour.

Young pros Lewis Bell, Jack Ellis and Gabe Breeze also featured along with some first and second-year youth team players.

Skelton said that, while it was not a great performance from the Blues, it had been a useful exercise.

“Corey set an excellent example and led like a captain,” the coach said.

“Some of them haven’t even met each other, especially the first-years and pros.

“I thought the pros set a good example and it was nice to get some of the first years on.

“I always like the [youth team players] playing with the pros. It brings the club together.

“Jack Ellis in the second half was better – he looked like a man and a pro. Lewi Bell needed the game, Ryan Carr was good – he’s trained with the first team all this year and his attitude was excellent.

“We won’t kid ourselves, the performance wasn’t brilliant, but if you win it always breeds confidence.”

The game saw former Bray Wanderers keeper Kelly get his first 45 minutes in a United jersey.

He was largely untroubled but Skelton said: “Even if they don’t have a lot to do, I feel that match practice is really important for goalkeepers.

“Sometimes you think, ‘What do they get from it?’ if they haven’t done much, but it’s that match sharpness, match awareness, concentration, etc.

“He’ll have got a lot out of it. He’s definitely not a shy character! So he’s bedded in with the group well.”

Skelton added that United had been pleased to take on Gretna and further strengthen the bond between the clubs.

Carlisle have used the club’s artificial pitch for training in recent times and Skelton said the Blues would hope to continue the relationship.

“We’re really grateful to Gretna for inviting us up. They got a decent crowd in and it was nice to get a game against them,” added Skelton, who was a favourite in his playing days for the former Gretna club who reached the Scottish Cup final and top-flight north of the border.

“It’s that feel-good factor. You have each other’s back. It builds the bigger platform.

“They’re always very accommodating when we need to train. I’m sure it won’t be long before we need the facilities…and it’s important to keep that relationship.

“It’s a good facility for us. It’s only ten minutes up the road and it’s fantastic.”