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The Show Won't Go On: Carlisle
By: FindusFamilyStand and ScarthoMariner
FOLLOWING the three-and-a-half hours dash to the Scottish border, initial thoughts were of relief - It's a good job that this competition is regionalised or we might not have made it.
Carlisle United 2 Grimsby Town 1
Despite the Carlisle fans' constant reminder that we 'must have come in a taxi', the 75 die-hards that made the 190 mile trip to Cumbria were clearly too many for the Brunton Park club to deal with, as kick-off was delayed due to crowd congestion.
One can only assume that this congestion was at the snack bar, as the rush for the much-touted meat and potato pie was on; Quite a good pie, solid pastry enabling clean consumption without the risk of fall-apart. The burgers however were a poor showing, resembling more an uncooked frisbee in a bun, particularly in comparison to the all-conquering 'Diamond Burger' sampled at Nene Park.
The crowd are settled in, with the 2,500 home fans packing out the solitary stand open to them. Town lined up in the now standard 3-4-3ish formation with only Williams, Forbes and Coldicott retaining their place in the starting line-up from the 2-0 victory at Cambridge. Greg Young on the right of the back three? Must be to allow Rob Jones to use that cultured left foot of his for incisive distribution. Marcelle and Bull slotted into the wingbacks role, with Hockless dropping off Robinson and Cramb.
We're ready for the show. Unfortunately, Williams decided to begin the show with a clown routine. Two minutes in and the Town 'keeper palms a Billy effort over the bar. Corner kick. A Lumsdon ball is swung to the near post, a shout of "Keeper's' goes up and Williams manages to pat the ball straight down to the feet of Henderson two yards out. 1-0. Affectionately known as 'Taff', Williams was proving to be more of a Rhys Wilmot than a Danny Coyne.
Five minutes gone and Cramb receives the ball from a clearance but fired just wide. Cramb again a minute later with an even better chance but this time the debutants effort cleared the crossbar. Pinault performed a pretty pirouette on the ball, Cramb won some flick-ons and Forbes looked solid at the back. Arnison struck a 30-yard effort well but too high. Hockless picked up the ball for the first real time wide on the right after 15 minutes. With all of the Hockless-for-Grimsby campaigners willing him on, he cut inside of drilled a low shot towards the bottom corner but Carlisle 'keeper Westwood got down well and held the ball. This however, was the only time Hockless really managed to get involved throughout the first half.
Marcelle was looking bright down the right hand side and his good run was curtailed by a foul, though the resultant free-kick came to nothing. Williams received a backpass following a Town throw-in. He waited with the ball gently rolling across the face of his own goal. He waited stillâ€¦ he's got to clear it soonâ€¦ he's waitingâ€¦ we're panickingâ€¦ Williams managed to slice the ball clear just evading the on-rushing Farrell.
A few minutes later Jones mis-controlled and kicked Farrell to the ground just outside the box. As Farrell fell, the ball struck him on the arm 'Handball!' Referee agrees and awarded a free-kick to Town. Well played ref, we owe you one. Frustrated, Farrell then clattered into Greg Young on the half-way line and received a yellow card; if only he'd been booked for the 'handball' as well.
This had all been a bit too much for Williams so when he next gained possession he decided to have another good wait, this time with the ball in hand. He's waitingâ€¦ still waitingâ€¦ still waitiâ€¦ indirect free-kick awarded for holding onto the ball to long. The wall was literally pulled together by the offender just inside the 6-yard box. It was panic, it was hectic, it was drilled just wide of the near post by Farrell. After 34 minutes, Jones was beaten in the air and the ball looped towards the Town goal. Williams went up but this time was bundled to the ground by goal-scorer Henderson.
Cramb received a booking for dissent following a harsh free-kick near the Carlisle corner-flag - the one near the corner - not the one on the half-way line. With just a couple minutes of the half left, Jones added to the show with his amazing 'Bambi-on-ice' trick in his own area as McGill squared to the impressive Farrell, whose curling shot hit the top of the Town bar. The Carlisle fans considered it unlucky, I'm more inclined to call it inaccurate. Town immediately broke away from the ensuing goal kick, with Marcelle picking the ball up on the right, cutting inside and finding Cramb. Cramb turned, steadied himself and coolly placed the ball passed the advancing 'keeper. Marcelle himself then had a rasping shot flash just wide of the far post. 1-1.
Following the success of the earlier pie, and the miserable failure of the 'burger', another pastry-based snack was in order. This time, the Cornish pasty was sampled, proving to be another success. The Town fans stood in the open terrace wondering if it was going to rain, or even snow. 'We are pretty much in Scotland' were made but did not go down well with nearby Jocks. The biggest talking point of the match was clearly more about the Champions League and Wayne Rooney rather than the arguably less-illustrious LDV Vans Trophy.
A minute into the second half and a clash of heads. Clint, poor little Clint is down, he must have bumped his head on a grown-ups knee. Dave Moore came on and eased his troubles with a nice pink towel, perhaps a security blanket. It was a slow start to the half, with Colin Cramb's looping effort into the Town faithful the only action of note. The ball boy attempted a spectacular volley to the 'keeper but could only muster an air shot. Remember we owed the ref one? Well he called in the debt, with interest after 54 minutes. Farrell went down in the Town box and without great appeals Mr Oliver blew for the penalty. Farrell himself took the spot-kick but struck it poorly and Williams dived to his left to save well and gather the ball. Good old Taff, always had faith in him!
Three minutes later Bull found himself with space on the edge of the Carlisle penalty area and hit an accurate trickler towards the far post that was fisted wide by Westwood. A series of meaty challenges resulted in a throw-in for Town near the corner flag. Hockless's long throw was flicked on by Jones but Robinson failed to direct his header goal ward.
Slade had kindly waited just over an hour for Robinson to make his first meaningful contribution before hauling off the ineffective front man for Michael Reddy. Pinault then struck a good 20-yard effort just past the angle of the post and bar. This was Pinault's final contribution to the match, as he was replaced by Terry Fleming following a typically neat performance.
The aforementioned ball boy once again displayed poor non-league standard ball-retrieving abilities as he failed to throw the ball over the advertising hoardings 'Arghh!'. The ball came back to him and he failed again 'Arghh!'. Shouting at a young kid following an honest mistake - I for one felt big and clever. That little so and so and his Cumbrian associates were to have the last laugh however, as a 70th minute free-kick was whipped in from deep by Lumsdon and headed in by Grand 7 yards out. Goalkeeper and defenders were left looking at each other for portioning the blame.
The next 10 minutes were poor with too many long hopeful balls. Fleming played one straight out of play for a throw-in and Forbes showed the touch of a Rapiâ€¦ Rapid Vienna player as he let the ball get away from him (Phew!). A good cross from Bull on 80 minutes was half nodded down by Cramb but Reddy made a meal of it, lofting the bouncing ball over the bar from 6 yards.
Jones received a booking following a high challenge on Henderson causing constant boos from the over-excited home fans. Jones then got his head to a far post corner but guided the ball straight into the hands of the keeper. The attack obviously lead Jones to believe that he could emulate Pele with an ambitious overhead kick but the attempt failed to threaten Westwood's goal. After the 3 minutes of injury time had been signalled, McDonagh, on as a 73rd minute substitute, decided he wanted to steal the show with a stamp on Terry Fleming. Out came the red card, off went McDonagh and down came the curtain as Mr Oliver decided that he did not want anymore.
Full Time 2-1
Another year of concentrating on the league (and FA cup) for Town then. Overall, a poor performance, the Town faithful trudged home, many not too despondent, many not particularly caring. Cramb had a good debut, Forbes was very solid again, and Marcelle and Pinault didn't do much wrong. Other than that, it was a bit of a stinker.
But wait! It's not over yet! Click HERE to read KLM's diary of events of his trip to Carlisle.
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