Penrith 0 Carlisle United 8: A comfortable pre-season opener for Carlisle United was checked by a first-half injury to Charlie Wyke as Paul Simpson’s side returned to action at Penrith.

Three goals in the first half and five in the second, including one from new signing Cameron Harper plus braces by Dan Butterworth and Taylor Charters as well as strikes by Luke Armstrong, Sam Hetherington and Freddie O’Donoghue, saw the Blues ease back into things in their pre-season opener.

But there was concern regarding the returning Wyke, whose comeback game after his summer move lasted just 32 minutes, the striker going off in clear discomfort.

The Blues will hope the problem is not serious after a night when another forward, young Ukrainian Anton Dudik, was also wearing a protective boot, while notable by their absences at the Leo Group Stadium were Jack Armer, Jack Ellis, Alfie McCalmont and Georgie Kelly, with Armer the subject of strong transfer speculation.

Summer signings Wyke and Aaron Hayden were back in United shirts for the first half, alongside other new faces from their transfer business so far. Harper and Ethan Robson also started, while youth team prospect Dan Hopper also had a place in the opening XI at right wing-back.

The action got under way after a well-observed minute’s silence in memory of Andrew Jenkins following the great former United owner and chairman’s passing this week.

In front of an excellent 1,030 crowd, plenty of whom took advantage of Penrith’s new fan zone, Carlisle in a 3-5-2 system and their new away kit wasted little time in imposing themselves, taking the lead after just three minutes when Wyke’s strength set up the chance for Josh Vela to break onto the ball on the right of the box, and his low cross was converted at the far post from close range by Harper.

Penrith tried to respond through Luke Hunter, but it was 2-0 by the nine-minute mark when, after Wyke had been fouled, Butterworth curled a crisp free-kick past Aaran Taylor.

Butterworth’s runs were United’s most dangerous feature while the Blues often worked the ball at the back before springing at Penrith. Butterworth sent a shot too high after Robson’s pass broke his way, while the hosts’ best efforts ended with Dylan McGeouch dispossessing Lewis Moore, and Hunter denied by defenders after Martyn Coleman played him in.

The hosts kept United at bay for a good first-half period, although Butterworth cracked the inside of the post on 25 minutes, before drawing a strong save from Taylor.

Charlie Wyke went off injured in the first halfCharlie Wyke went off injured in the first half (Image: Ben Holmes)

There was then concern for the Blues as Wyke, who had earlier seemed to hurt his shin in the build-up to Butterworth’s free-kick, went down again after a blow to the head and, in clear discomfort, came off to be replaced by teenager Hetherington.

When things resumed, Coleman and Matty Coombe were denied to the right of United’s goal for Darren Edmondson’s Northern League Division One men, before Carlisle ended the half with a third goal, Butterworth drilling home from the edge of the box after Hopper had kept a fading Robson attack alive.

United then switched most of their players for the second half and one of the new arrivals, youth team player O’Donoghue, headed an early chance over from a Charters corner.

The second half XI involved another new face, Terell Thomas, in defence, and soon brought a fourth goal when O’Donoghue was fouled on the left of the box and Charters buried the penalty with typical composure.

And two minutes later it was five, United’s next attack too much for Penrith as the busy O’Donoghue laid it right and Armstrong rifled it in to open his pre-season account.

A triple change for the hosts followed on the hour mark as Carlisle pushed for more goals, Jon Mellish denied by sub keeper Harvey Reay, and Edmondson made further changes as things moved into the final quarter

United brought up the half dozen when Charters rose to convert a Neal delivery, and later Mellish rifled just over from outside the area.

Hetherington capped a weaving run with an impressive finish and then O’Donoghue went through to make it eight, in the closing stages of a largely positive first workout of July – albeit one with the caveat of that Wyke concern and intrigue over other absentees.

Penrith: Taylor (Reay 46), Piele (Holden 61), Bell (Gordon 61), May (Prokas 67), Morrey (Hope 81), Moynan (Grandison 61), Moore (Glen 67), Coombe (Peart 81), Coleman (Shields 67), Hunter (Rebanks 81), Hammell (Williamson 81).

United (first half): Lewis, Lavelle, Hayden, O’Brien, Harper, Vela, McGeouch, Hopper, Robson, Butterworth, Wyke (Hetherington 32).

(Second half): Breeze, Thomas, Barclay, Mellish, Fitzpatrick, Allan, Neal, Charters, Armstrong, Hetherington, O’Donoghue.

Goals: Harper 3, Butterworth 9, 43; Charters 50pen, 73; Armstrong 52; Hetherington 90; O’Donoghue 90.

Ref: Scott Henry.

Crowd: 1,030.