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Match Report

 

Posted Sat 25 Jun 16 at 04:09 AM

Report from the season opener ...

Manager Keith Curle handed debuts to five of his new signings for the trip to face promotion favourites Portsmouth on the opening day and his new-look charges had to play for close to 70 minutes with just ten men following an early dismissal for wide man Jamie Devitt.

They dug deep, defended in packs with determination, and had a huge thank you to say to an inspired performance from Mark Gillespie as they put smiles on faces with one of the hardest earned points the club has ever seen.

Pre-match nerves quickly dissolved as the action got under way in the blistering heat and the home side were the first to show when Roberts chested a forward pass down for Baker to chase. He spotted Lalkovic on the overlap and the wide man wasted no time in finding space for a shot. Gillespie saw it late but he dropped low to make an important save.

United responded well with an attack down the left flank which saw Kennedy and Adams work closely together to open a gap. Jones almost benefited but Stevens made a good block.

More good football from the visitors left Jones with options and he spread it wide for Grainger to cross. Rose had dropped deep and his touch was enough to prevent Raynes from doing any damage.

A lucky ricochet from a Smith flick left Roberts with unexpected possession at the other end and he had just one thing in mind as he dropped a shoulder to lose his man. His connection was sweet but it was always heading high and wide.

United stunned the sell-out home crowd into silence on the quarter hour when Shaun Miller put a lovely touch onto a Jones clip. Reggie Lambe showed pace and poise as he left everyone in his wake. His first touch carved the back line open and his second left Forde with no chance as he calmly found the bottom corner.

Pompey tried to strike back early but resolute defending kept them at bay as the Carlisle defence held their shape.

But the task was made harder just before the half hour when the Cumbrians were reduced to ten men when wide man Jamie Devitt was shown a second yellow card for what appeared to be a tug on a shirt.

Portsmouth threw men forward and Talbot forced Gillespie into action once again when he ghosted in at the far post. The keeper spread himself and beat the stinging effort away. Whatmough should have done better from the resulting corner when he found himself just eight yards out and completely alone. He lost the flight of the ball and somehow sent it into the stands.

Patient build up play from the hosts left Baker with a clear sight and Gillespie was needed again when a thunderbolt headed for the top corner. Firm hands were enough to send it over.

The Cumbrians relieved the mounting pressure ahead of the break when they used Adams to stretch the game. He twice crossed behind the back four and determined stuff from Lambe and Jones gave Shaun Miller room to move. He almost caught Forde on the hop with a fierce drive which spun an inch past the upright.

Pompey brought matters level just ahead of the break when Roberts twisted and turned with the ball at his feet. He spotted Baker in space and Gillespie could do nothing about a low, whisked shot which flew through his legs.

Carlisle had their hearts in their mouths just moments after the restart when Baker controlled a low cross inside the six-yard box. It appeared that all he had to do was pick his spot but he couldn't get it out from under his feet and red shirts converged to smother the danger.

Smith somehow missed a close range volley when it looked easier to score when he got his toe to a Lalkovic cross, and Carlisle broke quickly to cause danger of their own as they found gaps in midfield. Nicky Adams came under pressure as a half clearance fell out of the sky and he couldn't keep his volley down as he went for glory.

Crosses peppered the Carlisle box as Portsmouth tried to turn the heat up but a wild volley from Baker summed up home frustration as they couldn't quite make the possession tell.

A long ball forward caused problems as it dropped into no man's land but Gillespie got enough on it to stop Roberts from putting it away. And Joyce was back quickly to block the follow-up from Baker as an open goal beckoned. Whatmough was wayward with his header from the corner which followed as Carlisle continued to defend with everything they had.

Keeper Mark Gillespie earned more deserved applause when he readjusted to make a fine save from a dipping Carl Baker effort which had goal written all over it until he got his hands in the way.

Kyle Bennett's first contribution of the day was a shot from a tight angle which wasn't too far away, and Danny Rose followed suit with a 25-yarder which he couldn't keep down.

Rose went even closer when he rattled the inside of the post with a punt from the edge of the area and a series of bounces ended with the ball safely in Gillespie's hands as home shirts fell short of getting a touch.

Star man Gillespie saved from Baker when he shot from distance and Bennett was wayward again when he let fly when he had options left and right. And the keeper cemented his man-of-the-match status as he denied Doyle twice with two of the best saves he is likely to make all season.

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Goals

Portsmouth - Baker (42)

United - Lambe (14)

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Bookings

United - Devitt (19 & 28 - sent off), Gillespie (73)

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Teams

Portsmouth - Forde, Stevens, Rose (Hunt 82), Burgess, Baker, Doyle, Smith (Chaplin 68), Lalkovic (Bennett 68), Roberts, Whatmough, Talbot. Subs - Bass, Davies, Main, Barton.

Carlisle United - Gillespie, T Miller, Raynes, Gillesphey, Grainger, Lambe (Joyce 57), Kennedy (Atkinson 90), Jones, Devitt, Adams, S Miller (Ellis 70). Subs - Crocombe, Wyke, Penn, Brough.

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Referee - Mr Graham Salisbury

Attendance - 17,570 (481 away fans)

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