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Kick off 15:00 (UK)

29 December 2019 Venue Banks's Stadium Attendance

Kick off 15:00 (UK)

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English Football League - League Two

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Match Previews

MATCH PREVIEW: A Sunday fixture in Walsall

Next up is a trip to the Bescot

27 December 2019

The steady run of fixtures continues for United with a weekend trip to Walsall next on the cards.

LaveryIt's five-and-a-half years since these sides last met and 2019 finds both teams looking for the points from what will be a tough game which will help them to head into the New Year in a positive frame of mind.

The Saddlers picked up two draws and a victory at the start of this month, which helped them to claw back league places and recover from what had been a stuttering start to the season. Thursday's away win at Scunthorpe kept things ticking over and also, incidentally, extended their unbeaten run to six league games.

Relegated last term, they'll be disappointed with their league position and will no doubt be looking to push on as 2020 looms large.

Caolan Lavery is the front runner in the scoring charts, with six against his name, and Elijah Adebayo, James Clarke and Josh Gordon have all weighed in with three each.

More goals and a tightening up at the back are needed for the Saddlers if they are going to mount a serious challenge this season, but there's no doubt this will be a tough game at what is a busy stage of the year.


From Chris Beech ...

Chris BeechSpeaking ahead of the game manager Chris Beech said: "Walsall will give us a very strong challenge. They are a workmanlike team with great energy in it and they all always give 100 per cent. We’ve got a challenge on our hands, there’s no question about that.

"I’m really good friends with Marcus Stewart, he kept in touch when I wasn’t in work, I played with him at Huddersfield and of course their manager has been excellent in non-league and at Bristol Rovers. 

"He turned down massive jobs while he was at Bristol Rovers, and ended up losing his job. He knows the league, knows the players, so we have to be right on point to get a positive result at Walsall.”

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Head to Head

  Carlisle wins Draws Walsall wins
League 15 18 21
League Cup 0 0 1
FA Cup 1 0 1
Total 16 18 23

The last time these teams met was in April 2014 at Brunton Park. It appeared that an early opening goal from Liam Noble was going to do the trick for the Cumbrians but Michael Ngoo struck late to make it a share of the spoils.

Watch the highlights from that game here:

We were at the Bescot in Deecember 2013 earlier in that campaign and, having hit the woodowrk and missed a penalty, the game was lost courtesy of strikes for the home side from Romaine Sawyers and Milan Lalkovic.

Watch the highlights from that game here:


Man in the middle

Our referee for this fixture is Mr Ben Toner. Ben has taken charge of 18 games so far this season showing 54 yellow cards and four reds.

A regular with us over the years, we had him as our main match official at the start of this campaign for our Carabao Cup meeting with Barnsley at Oakwell. Goals from Harry McKirdy, Jack Bridge [pen] and Nathan Thomas sealed a comfortable victory and no Carlisle names were taken on the night.

Our first meeting with him during the 2018/19 season was for the 2-1 victory over Port Vale at Brunton Park in August. A Danny Grainger penalty and a Tom Parkes header were enough to see the Blues earn the three points with no cards shown

The Checkatrade Trophy fixture at the Stadium of Light was the second United game he oversaw that term, with the Black Cats running out as 3-1 winners. Ashley Nadesan got the United goal and, once again, the cards stayed in his pocket.

New Year's Day 2019 took us to Morecambe, Jamie Devitt and Jack Sowerby got the goals, and Kelvin Etuhu and Anthony Gerrard had their names recorded in the book.

And last, but not least, was our 2-1 home victory over Swindon in March 2019. Hallam Hope and Callum O'Hare scored our goals with Gary Liddle going in the book for a late challenge. 

Referee - Ben Toner
Assistant Referee 1 - Abbas Khan
Assistant Referee 2 - Matthew Bristow
Fourth Official - Billy Smallwood


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Match Reports

MATCH REPORT: Walsall 1 - 2 United

Report from the Sunday afternoon away game

29 December 2019

Both Carlisle United and Walsall went into this festive fixture in search of the points to give their respective runs of good form a winning boost following what had been a steady few weeks of football for all concerned.

United were without Jarrad Branthwaite, who picked up a niggle during the Saturday training session, but Jack Iredale was available again and he stepped up into his recognised left back position.

Harry McKirdy was the other change with him coming in for Canice Carroll.

It was an all-action encounter and an early throw for the Blues was flicked on by Hayden, but Sagaf was closed down on the edge of the area before he could open things up.

Carlisle came again when Scougall got the ball to McKirdy inside the Walsall half. A stepover was followed by a low cross but that came off Bates and Roberts took it into his chest.

The Saddlers then attacked with Facey on the right flank when he overlapped to take the ball under control. A deep cross was chested down by Gordon but Hayden stepped in to sweep it to safety.

A run and delivery from Thomas had Hope interested at the other end, but he'd checked hs initial run as he looked to stay onside.

McKirdy sent a shot high as he dropped a shoulder on the right wing, with Carlisle in the ascendancy, but Hayden had to react as Walsall broke from the clearance. Lavery had the first touch and Gordon had to be tackled as he tried to bundle his way through.

Excellent defending from the Blues kept the hosts at bay on 15 minutes when Facey found Holden in a good area. He fed it to Lavery, and Collin was superb as he made the initial block. Lavery looked to be set to pop the parry into the waiting net but Gethin Jones had other ideas as he lunged in to make a stunning goal-saving tackle.

It was Iredale who was next to provide a strong piece of defending when he shadowed Lavery after Holden had beaten the offside trap with a crossfield run. A cut back invited the nippy striker to shoot but United's left back was there to get his body in the way.

Carlisle turned Walsall once more, as it remained a nip and tuck game, with Thomas rifling a pass to the unmarked McKirdy. He volleyed a cross into the mix but Roberts jumped off his line to grasp it.

Facey somehow got past two defenders to get a cross in midway through the half but Collin dived long to make a clearing punch. A corner followed, and a blocked header from Clarke fell free in the six-yard box. Wes Mcdonald stretched to get there but his close-range attempt whistled over the bar.

It was a good spell for the hosts and a Gordon header was deflected over by Hayden as the pair contested a deep cross. Lavery then had another downward header from a quickly taken throw blocked and Collin was sharp as he stepped forward to claim it as it spun high into the air.

A 28-yarder from Sagaf was straight at Roberts, as United continued to look dangerous, and Thomas was stopped in his tracks when he went for it from the edge of the box.

The Blues fashioned a great chance on 33 minutes when Thomas was picked out by Iredale with his back to goal. Hope called for it, and he took a touch before putting his laces through it. It took an unfortunate ricochet off Scougall and that diverted the ball behind.

A flighted free kick from the halfway line caught the home defence napping and Webster wheeled away with his head in his hands as he guided a header on the run over the crossbar.

Lavery did the same at the other end whan an inswinging corner skipped off the surface in front of him. It came at the striker quickly and he couldn't keep it under control.

United had to defend their lines in time added on for the first half but they stood strong with blocks from Webster and Hayden preventing any sniff of a shooting opportunity.

The Saddlers were on the front-foot immediately after the break, and Hayden had to head behind when a Guthrie cross curled at the front post. More good work kept the delivery from the set piece at bay.

But it was Carlisle who took the lead when Sagaf broke with the ball at his feet from inside his own half. He sprayed it forward to Thomas, who angled his run towards the area. A low shot was parried by Roberts, but Loft challenged, and that brought Thomas into play once again. He left the keeper with no chance as he registered his fifth of the season with a blistering strike.

Thomas almost made it two for the day when he came at the sprint in support of Loft. A measured through ball from the big forward brought another firm shot, but Roberts got down smartly to beat it away.

The Carlisle winger was suddenly seeing more of the ball and he sent a thunderous drive high and wide after he'd cut in from the right flank to make room for the shot.

There was an almighty scramble in the Carlisle box as a corner spun up from an awkward bounce close to the goal line. Clarke tried to make it count, as did Adebayo, but the blue line stood strong.

But the Saddlers were back on terms moments later when Adebayo started and finished a good move. He rode two challenges as he ran in from the right wing, and he then slipped it to McDonald who was disappointed to see his initial shot smash down off the underside of the bar. Adebayo had followed the shot and he had the relatively simple task of tapping it into the waiting net.

Walsall were reduced to 10-men with 13 minutes left to play when McKirdy left Clarke rooted to the spot with a deft touch. The home captain tugged the Carlisle man back and the referee wasted no time in producing the red card.

The resulting free kick from Thomas hit the wall and bent just wide, and there was controversy moments later when an offside flag went up as Hope was dragged to the floor. The referee appeared to talk to his assistant, who eventually raised the flag, or another home defender would have received his marching orders.

It was head in the hands time for United on 83 minutes when Thomas put an excellent cross into the box. All it needed was a touch, but the home side were able to get it away.

A free kick from Thomas followed, and Hayden was a whisker away as he made it his own. He was on the stretch and his close-range volley went over the target.

The final sting in the tail came in time added on as a throw was flicked on at the near post. Harry McKirdy kept his eye on it and he left the stopper with no chance as he looped a fantastic match-winning header into the roof of the net.



Walsall - Adebayo (71)

Carlisle United - Thomas (52), McKirdy (90)



Walsall - Cockerill-Mollett (83)

Sent off - Clarke (77)

Carlisle United - Hayden (48)



Walsall - Roberts (gk), Sadler, Clarke (c), Lavery (Adebayo 66 (Jules 78)), Gordon, Holden (Hardy 66), Guthrie, Bates, Cockerill-Mollett, Facey, McDonald. Subs - Rose (gk), Norman, Gaffney, Perry, Jules.

Carlisle United - Collin (gk) (c), G Jones, Hayden, Webster, Iredale, Sagaf, M Jones, Scougall (Loft 46), Thomas (Olomola 90), Hope, McKirdy. Subs - Gray (gk), Mellish, Charters, Bridge, Birch.


Match officials

Referee - Ben Toner
Assistant Referee 1 - Abbas Khan
Assistant Referee 2 - Matthew Bristow
Fourth Official - Billy Smallwood


Attendance - 4,794 (376 away fans)

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