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MATCH REPORT: United 3 - 3 Blackburn

7 August 2013

United win 4-3 on penalties

It was just what the doctor ordered at Brunton Park on Wednesday night as an opening day nightmare was cast aside in favour of a pulsating all-action cup tie which had a bit of everything to keep the fans in their seats right up until the moment teenage substitute Dave Symington crunched his match winning penalty into the roof of the net.

The game ebbed and flowed as both sides played their part but there can be little argument that a confident looking Carlisle outfit deserved to take their place in the round two draw as they twice bounced back from behind to claim a dramatic win. 

The Cumbrians looked like they had a point to prove and they created the first real opening of the game when Noble headed the ball from midfield to the overlapping Josh Gillies. His cross had be cleared as Beck steamed in to finish what had been a very good move.

Veteran David Dunn pounced on a nod down from Taylor at the other end but his ambitious lob was never going to trouble the target. It was a good spell for the visitors and a Cairney corner had to be hooked cleared by Thirlwell as it stuck under feet in the six yard box. Morris put his boot through the loose ball and Noble did well to get in the way as it threatened to test the keeper.

Carlisle weren't about to buckle though and Brad Potts ran forward in support of a Berrett inspired attack. His cross was well met by Mark Beck but the header was easily saved by Eastwood.

Set pieces have been the undoing of the home side of late but it was one of their own, from the boot of Josh Gillies, which handed them the lead. David Amoo made it two goals in two games when he shrugged off his marker to nod it into the bottom corner.

Blackburn went in search of a quick response and Morris was within a whisker of an equaliser when he was first to a long ball over the top. He spotted the keeper just off his line but couldn't keep his lobbed effort down.

Things opened up briefly for Amoo at the other end when Berrett and Gillies bullied their way to the edge of the area. He pulled the trigger but Lowe stepped in to stifle the shot.

Gillespie had to be at his best when Songo’o came from deep as United battled to clear a set piece. His 20-yard effort was seen late but was expertly dealt with by a two-handed dive.

The visitors kept knocking on the door as a deep corner from Cairney invited the big Carlisle stopper to advance off his line. Chris Taylor held his position and was left with his head in his hands as he dinked his header off the top of the bar when he had the full net to aim at.

Berrett shanked a rushed effort over the bar when a long throw was cleared into his path and Blackburn broke from deep from the goal kick with Olsson a threat. Potts provided covered and executed a great challenge to stop him in his tracks.

United almost doubled their lead on 41 minutes when Gillies turned provider again with a perfect cross from a wide free kick. Amoo left his markers for dead as he headed it inches wide with Eastwood stranded.

Left back Reece James sent a signal to the bench to indicate that he was struggling with a thigh problem and his last involvement in the game was an excellent challenge on King as he shaped to shoot. The injury paved the way for youth team full back Patrick Brough to make his first team debut.

The home side ended the half on the front foot with Lewis Guy looking dangerous and his cut back for Liam Noble brought a shot from 22 yards. It had plenty of power but it was always angling wide.

It needed a stroke of luck just after the break for Rovers to bring themselves back on level terms as Tom Cairney tried his luck from distance. A cruel deflection as Liam Noble stretched a leg to intervene left Gillespie wrong-footed and he watched in agony as it dribbled across his line.

James Berrett went close as United started to rediscover their attacking boots but a rash challenge from Thirlwell in the Carlisle box brought a penalty for the visitors. Gillespie stayed big as the experienced David Dunn placed the ball and it was a fine save as he dived low to his left.

But it was brief joy for United as their set piece weakness came to the fore with plenty of Blackburn shirts in the box. Chris Taylor kept his eye on the deep corner and calmly put it away with a powerful downward header.

The response was swift as Mark Beck robbed the defender of possession before swinging a lovely cross into the area. Lewis Guy grabbed his first goal for the club as he showed determination to force it over the line from very close range.

David Dunn seemed determined to score and he was unlucky with a thundering drive which crept just over when Olsson picked him out with a neat reverse pass. 

The action ebbed and flowed and a left foot thunderbolt from Beck took a wicked deflection as Eastwood scrambled across his line. The touch from Lowe took the sting out of the ball and the keeper was able to recover.

The visitors started to see more of the ball and Morris sent another shot from distance over the bar as he tried to find a gap. And Mark Gillespie showed great awareness to make a near post save when Cairney crunched a free kick from a tight angle over the wall.

More strong defending was needed from Livesey and Thirlwell and the resolute stance almost brought the ultimate reward when Lewis Guy bundled his man off the ball tight by the opposition corner flag. Mark Beck dived low to connect with a powerful header and Eastwood somehow pulled off an unbelievable save when he pushed the fizzing goal bound effort onto the upright.

Blackburn regained the advantage early in extra time when Cairney sent another testing free kick to the back post. It eventually fell for Alan Judge and he scored an absolute beauty with almost his first touch of the game.

Beck brought another good save out of the busy Eastwood with a crisp shot from a Potts pass and the big striker headed over when Brough swung a nice ball onto his head.

There was still time for more drama as a harsh second yellow card for Cairney reduced the visitors to ten men. Carlisle started to look dangerous and Symington forced a fumbled save from Eastwood as he raced off his line. It was an opportunity for Salmon but he bent his shot as defenders raced back to close him down.

Beck and Potts rushed chances as the pressure levels increased and Carlisle got their deserved equaliser when Patrick Brough measured a pass into the path of David Amoo. He needed just one touch before he swept the ball emphatically into the bottom corner.

The sides exchanged long range shots and Noble was unlucky when he bounced a ball right in front of the keeper. A late dive prevented it from doing any damage. 

Morris sliced over his own bar as the crosses kept coming in and Beck sent the last chance of the night into the Warwick as the crowd and players readied themselves for the lottery of the penalty shoot-out.

A miss for young striker Alex Salmon, as he blazed high, was quickly forgotten as Mark Beck, James Berrett and Liam Noble kept United's hopes alive. Misses from Taylor and Morris set the scene and Dave Symington didn't disappoint as he almost burst the back of the net to take the Cumbrians through to the next stage of the competition.

“We asked for a response and that’s exactly what we got,” manager Greg Abbott said. “The players should feel really proud of themselves. It isn't easy to do that against a side with this amount of quality”

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United - Amoo (14, 114), Guy (62)

Rovers - Cairney (51), Taylor (56), Judge (95)


Carlisle United – Beck, Berrett, Noble, Symington. Miss – Salmon
Blackburn Rovers – Judge, Lowe, Rhodes. Miss – Taylor, Morris.



Rovers - Lowe (90), Cairney (90 & 99)



Carlisle United - Gillespie, Potts, Livesey, Thirlwell, James (Brough 43), Amoo, Berrett, Noble, Gillies (Symington 89), Beck, Guy (Salmon 101). Subs - Fleming, Edwards, Todd, Lynch.

Blackburn Rovers - Eastwood, Kane, King, Dunn (Rhodes 93), Olsson (Judge 91), Songo'o, Taylor, Marrow (Lowe 46), Morris, Givet, Cairney. Subs - Best, O'Connor, Nunes, Kean.


Referee - R Clark

Attendance - 4,372 (891 away fans)

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