First half goals sink United again
Carlisle United shot themselves in the foot once again when defensive errors crept in to allow Sheffield United to maintain their charge at the top end of the table.
The latest home offering went exactly to script in the opening stages as Carlisle gave as good as they got.
The first chance of the day fell to Miller when he received a reverse pass from Flynn. A twist inside the area created space but his scuffed shot was easy for Collin.
Liam Noble let one go from distance at the other end when Thirlwell put him into a shooting position. He connected well but Long was well placed to gather.
The selection of experience over youth appeared to be doing the trick as the Blades struggled to make an impact, but the familiar Achilles heel of a lapse in concentration kicked in just after the quarter hour mark.
It was a long ball forward which found Collins on the run and he brought a parried save with a fierce shot from a tight angle. The big striker reacted first to the rebound and his low cross eventually found its way through to Blackman. He curled a beautiful delivery behind the back line and hesitation from Edwards allowed the late arriving Ryan Flynn to slide in and touch the ball into an empty net.
The Cumbrians threatened to respond and Cadamarteri and Noble both had speculative efforts which flew right at George Long. Carlisle’s luck was summed up though when Liam Noble thumped a perfect volley into the bottom corner only to have his celebrations cut short by an offside flag.
But the first half turned into a nightmare for the Blues fans when Blades trio Blackman, Flynn and Collins carved their way through with a neat passing move. Nick Blackman dodged the final desperate tackle to poke the ball through Adam Collin’s legs to score his eleventh of the season from the tightest of angles.
Visiting tails were up and Kevin McDonald brought a good save out of Adam Collin when he tried to extend the lead just before the break. The keeper saw it late and did well to parry it away.
Dave Symington came on for Chris Chantler for the start of the second half as Greg Abbott shuffled his pack and he almost made an immediate impact as he dragged a 22-yard free kick wide of the mark.
It was better from Carlisle and a cross-shot from Robson almost found Garner until Collins put a boot in the way.
The visitors looked happy with their work after the break as they kept Carlisle at arms length with Liam Noble the most eager to make an impression.
He came close to dragging his team back into it when he smashed a nod down from Beck into the stands, and he was even closer moments later when he held his position for a poor punch from Long. A measured lob landed on top of the bar with the keeper well beaten.
The moment sparked life into the home effort and Symington was next to strike the woodwork with a crunching drive from deep. And Carlisle were right back in it when Danny Livesey made it three for the season when he nodded a whipped McGovern corner past the stranded George Long.
Beck and Potts both had half chances as the home pressure grew, but the Cumbrians were guilty of whipping the rug from underneath their own fight back when they conceded a third goal with five minutes left to play.
Adam Collin lost the flight of an inswinging corner and Neil Collins was on hand to seal the win and consign the hosts to their fourth consecutive home defeat as he prodded the freak ricochet into the gaping net from less than a yard out.
To their credit, Carlisle kept going and a thundering free kick from deep from Symington brought a fantastic save from the diving George Long. And Matt Robson wheeled away in disappointment as he sent a late volley right at the keeper with the clock ticking into time added on.
“It’s a lonely place when you are stood in the technical area and your team is losing but we have to keep going and working hard to turn these results round,” manager Greg Abbott said. “We’re starting to get some key players back and that will make a massive difference to us. We aren’t looking for excuses, they were better than us today and it took us too long to get ourselves going. There is no-one more frustrated and disappointed than me, but we will be back in on Monday to go again. This is a good group and once we are firing on all cylinders, with our full squad available, we will become a very difficult team to beat again.”
United - Livesey (71)
Blades - Flynn (16), Blackman (34), Collins (85)
United - Cadamarteri (24), Noble (28)
Blades - Miller (42)
Carlisle United - Collin, Potts, Edwards, Livesey, Chantler (Symington 46), McGovern, Thirlwell, Noble, Robson, Cadamarteri (Beck 61), Garner. Subs - Gillespie, Welsh, Loy, Todd, Gjokaj.
Sheffield United - Long, Westlake, Maguire, Hill, Flynn, Doyle, Porter (Ironside 81), Blackman, McDonald (McAllister 48), Miller, Collins. Subs - Cofie, McFadzean, Williams, Kennedy, Coyne.
Referee - Mr Graham Salisbury
Attendance - 4,892 (897 away fans)