Carlisle rue wasteful finishing in Brunton Park return

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Luke Summerfield – www.zimbio.com

Carlisle United’s return to Brunton Park did not go to plan on Saturday afternoon. The Cumbrians missed golden chances to secure victory after Jason Kennedy’s early opener against bottom of the table York City, with the visitors grabbing a late equalizer through Luke Summerfield. It was a priceless point for the Minstermen, in their battle to avoid a Football League exit this season.

The match was eagerly anticipated by Carlisle fans, many of whom had suffered a challenging six weeks, due to the town’s recent flooding disaster. Over 7k home fans packed Brunton Park, when the last game at their own stadium had brought an attendance of less than 4k, thus highlighting the significance of the occasion. It seemed fitting that their first game back would be against York City, with York another town to fall victim to heavy flooding in the north of England. The build-up to the game had a gracious feel, with Carlisle and York fans keen to show respect for one another after the difficulties both sets of fans had faced.

However, such kindness was not present in the Carlisle team when the game kicked off, as the hosts looked to harry their opponents early on. They played at a high tempo with Derek Asamoah particularly lively, and tried to isolate the vulnerable Femi Ilesanmi down the right hand side. The hosts fashioned their first chance through that flank, when Tom Miller’s cross was met by Mark Ellis, but Scott Flinders saved the defender’s downward header.

York’s rearguard was not aggressive enough and their timid defending led to Carlisle’s opening goal. Jason Kennedy wove his way through the back-line, without needing much pace to do so. The former Bradford midfielder scrambled the ball past Flinders to put his side in front, deservedly so.

Right wing-back Miller showed a willingness to get forward. His long throw bounced dangerously in the penalty area and Macaulay GillesphEY headed the ball over the bar from close range. When Carlisle had the ball, they moved it with a lot more purpose than York. Aside from sporadic pieces of movement from Vadaine Oliver, the Minstermen offered little in attack and could not retain possession in forward areas.

asamoah

Derek Asamoah – www.bbc.co.uk

Carlisle always looked the more confident side in the first half, with their impressive midfield trio pulling the strings. A fluent move allowed Asamoah to fizz the ball into the box, but Jabo Ibehre missed the target with his diving header. Asamoah looked incredibly quick for a 34-year-old and his energy and relentless closing down pushed York back, thus allowing Carlisle to take control of the game.

York’s performance did not improve after the interval and they lacked support for their front men. Carlisle’s Jason Kennedy was putting in a good shift and the former Bradford man crossed the ball in from left, but Asamoah’s improvised flick flew wide.

Substitute Alex Gilliead neglected his defensive duties at times but he went on some exciting runs down the right flank. On one occasion, crossed for Ibehre, but the former Leyton Orient man’s effort was surprisingly tame. Indeed, his miss a few minutes later was even more surprising. Another cross from the right, this time from Asamoah, found Ibehre at the back post and he headed the ball wide of the far post with the goal gaping. It had looked easier to score.

Away supporters responded with gallows humour, teasing Carlisle fans that ‘It’s only 1-0’. Joke though their fans did, York could get back into the game with the Cumbrians just one goal in front. Danny Galbraith came on with a quarter of an hour to go and made a key impact. Galbraith, who was brought up in Galashiels, just 60 miles to the north-east of Carlisle, looked to run at the defence and create chances for his side.

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Danny Galbraith – www.yorkpress.co.uk

Galbraith came on the field just five minutes before Asamoah came off it and those two changes swung the game in York’s favour. Carlisle lost a lot of their attacking impetus when Asamoah left the field and their opponents piled on the pressure. Michael Raynes made a key block to deny Oliver in the box, but the visitors persisted and moments later, they equalized. Galbraith’s drive hit the post and the ball fell to Luke Summerfield, who drilled it home to give the Minstermen a point.

That goal was York’s first in 347 minutes of football, but it was a vital one that could restore belief in the team, and in manager Jackie McNamara. The bottom-placed visitors could not afford to lose this game with both Yeovil and Dagenham picking up points. The draw means they are within three points of safety with a game in hand on their relegation rivals. If York go on to stay up this season – and of course that remains a massive if – the equalizer at Brunton Park will be seen as the turning point.

Carlisle, by contrast, will be scratching their heads wondering how they did not win. They missed a number of golden chances to win the game, Jabo Ibehre particularly culpable, and should have killed off the contest. Keith Curle’s decision to take off the likes of Tom Miller and Derek Asamoah destabilized Carlisle and made them weaker out of possession. Unfortunately for the Cumbrian outfit, they have missed a good opportunity to go one point off the top seven. Saturday brought Carlisle a sense of pride at being back at Brunton Park, but also a sense of frustration and regret.