Noble double seals excellent win
Seven points from nine from the last three difficult away trips has left Carlisle United on the crest of a wave and their latest victory, against table-topping Doncaster Rovers, came courtesy of two excellent goals from midfielder Liam Noble as the Cumbrians worked hard to get their win.
The best the surprisingly tame opening exchanges had to offer was a deflected long range punt from Dean Furman which spun harmlessly away as United packed their own half with numbers in an attempt to stem the Doncaster flow.
David Cotterill was next to disappoint when he wriggled away from two challenges to open things in midfield. His decision to shoot was met by howls of frustration as his wild effort sailed off into the stands.
An expectant home crowd demanded more and Spurr responded with a direct run which led to a low and dangerous cross. Bennett connected on the edge of the box but his first-time volley curled wide of the upright.
The first real moment of excitement came on 25 minutes when Andy Griffin held his position on the edge of the box. A half cleared ball eventually fell into his path and it needed a superb diving one-handed save from Mark Gillespie to stop the rasping thunderbolt.
United started to find their feet and a switch of play from right to left caught Rovers at sixes and sevens. Liam Noble let one fly but it lacked power and Woods was able to gather low.
The visitors took the lead with their next attack when a brief discussion between regular set-piece taker Jon-Paul McGovern and Liam Noble left the livewire midfielder in charge of a 28-yard free kick. The decision paid off when his dipping shot took a big deflection as it looped over the stranded Gary Woods and into the back of the net.
Dean Furman had half an opening as Rovers pressed forward in a bid to respond but he couldn't keep his volley down as he ran onto a half cleared cross. And the same player was thwarted by a diving Mark Gillespie as he beat two to bear down on goal.
David Cotterill had the last say of the half when he fizzed a poor free kick into the crowd behind the goal and there were some choice words of encouragement from the home crowd as their heroes made their way down the tunnel.
Carlisle weathered the expected early bombardment at the start of the second half with Livesey and O’Hanlon solid at the heart of the defence. And they went close to doubling their lead at the other end when McGovern dinked the ball into the path of the unmarked James Berrett. He took everyone by surprise with an early snapshot which fizzed just over the target.
Rovers went close themselves moments later when Coppinger hooked a punch from Gillespie back over his shoulder. Jones flicked it on and Gillespie did well to push it onto the bar. McGovern did the rest as he bravely crashed his clearing volley over the top of his own bar.
The introduction of Billy Paynter added momentum to the Doncaster attack and Chris Brown latched onto a neat flick from the substitute with a fiercely struck volley. Gillespie was beaten but his crossbar came to the rescue.
More enterprising attacking play from United brought a miscued cross from Jordan Mustoe which appeared to be heading harmlessly behind. It caught in the wind and woods had to scramble as it bent menacingly onto the top of his bar.
The points could have been wrapped up for the Cumbrians with five minutes left to play when Cadamarteri played Welsh on the overlap. His cross sat up perfectly for James Berrett but he drilled his placed shot right at the keeper. Andy Griffin hooked the loose ball away off the line.
The respite was brief for Rovers as Liam Noble carried the ball out of his own half from a well cleared corner. He stunned the crowd with a wonderful long range strike which nestled sweetly in the bottom corner.
Rovers went in search of a consolation and McGovern had to intercept to clear a bouncing ball which had Jones and Paynter interested. And Rob Jones was left red-faced and disappointed when he was gifted an opening just six yards out. He tried to guide his header past the advancing Mark Gillespie but succeeded only in popping it wide.
“We came here determined to keep our good run going and I thought the lads were magnificent yet again,” Greg Abbott said. “The second goal was fantastic and we could even be talking about one or two more. The character we have shown these last few weeks is something we can all be proud of and it leaves us feeling very optimistic for the future. We've said all along that we are a good side and it could be the case that the season is ending just a little bit too early for us. We are now very hard to beat and I'm sure the fans are enjoying what they're seeing."
United - Noble (35, 86)
Rovers - Furman (37), Spurr (71), Griffin (78)
United - Noble (45)
Doncaster Rovers - Woods, Griffin (Husband 88), Spurr, McCombe, Jones, Lundstram, Coppinger (Hume 77), Cotterill, Furman, Bennett (Paynter 64), Brown. Subs – Sullivan, Howieson, Wakefield, Harper.
Carlisle United - Gillespie, Potts, Livesey, O'Hanlon, Mustoe, Berrett, Thirlwell (Cadamarteri 63), Noble, McGovern, Miller, Welsh. Subs - Collin, Murphy, Loy, Manset, Edwards, Beck.
Referee - Mr Andy Woolmer
Attendance - 7,884 (259 away fans)