Three-in-a-row brings smiles to United
Carlisle United made it three league wins in a row for the first time since 2008 at Brunton Park with a hard working performance which cemented their League One mid-table position.
The Cumbrians had to come from behind and then defend their lead against a Notts County which, at times, played some extremely attractive attacking football.
United suffered a double injury blow ahead of kick off as striker Lee Miller was ruled out with continued problems from the calf pull he received last weekend and loan defender Troy Archibald-Henville missed the cut as he complained about an injury to his knee.
The Magpies passed the ball well without creating much in the way of forward momentum and neither keeper was tested until the eleventh minute when Andrew Boucaud let fly from 30 yards. He caught it well but it was always going wide.
There was more good stuff on show from the visitors when Boucaud found Haynes with his back to goal. A quick lay off invited a shot from the midfielder and it needed a diving save from Gillespie to prevent the ball from heading into the top corner.
Jack Grealish started to see plenty of the ball and he wriggled his way through two challenges as he tried to find a path to the target. Berrett and McSweeney converged to make the important block.
County thought they’d taken the lead when Haynes spun expertly away from Livesey. Callum McGregor showed for it and he twisted and turned his way towards the penalty spot. A thundering shot was parried by the keeper and Labadie could do nothing as it ricocheted off his arm and whisked harmlessly behind.
The Cumbrians announced their arrival at the game when a midfield tussle left Mark Beck in possession and in space. The big striker had just the keeper to beat and, with options left and right, he was left to fall to the floor in disappointment as he bent his curling shot wide of the upright.
And the hosts were made to pay for their miss when Callum McGregor came through a crunching tackle with Liam Noble just inside the Carlisle half. The defence was out of position and McGregor capitalised as he took two paces before stroking an unstoppable shot past the keeper’s dive.
Substitute Dave Symington replaced the hobbling Liam Noble and his first contribution was to place the ball for a 30-yard free kick. He went for his trademark power-drive but he struck it too well and flew high and into the stands.
United pulled themselves level just before half time when Matt Robson took charge of another set piece from a similar distance. He kept it low and it zipped through a gaggle of bodies before rattling the base of the upright and snuggling comfortably in the bottom of the net.
Home tails were up and David Amoo caused confusion when he made it to the by-line down the left flank. He crossed early but there was nobody there to finish it off. Mark Beck had another effort which had to be rushed as it broke in front of him from the set piece delivery and Bialkowski was relieved as it bobbled into his hands. And County should have reclaimed the lead on the stroke of half time when McGregor picked the ball up deep inside the Carlisle half. His cut back was perfect for Haynes but the big forward took too many touches and crashed his spinning shot harmlessly into the side netting.
The game flowed from end to end in the opening exchanges of the first half wit Amoo muscled off a header moments before Grealish dragged a misplaced shot across the face of goal. Dumbuya then had a sharp delivery cleared by McSweeney before Labadie could pounce and a Robson shot was deflected with the home side keen to get forward.
Carlisle took the lead for the first time in the game when Robson and Amoo combined on the left flank. A cut back brought an instinctive toe poke from just inside the area from Berrett and Bialkowski did well to punch it away. He was less pleased with his defence, though, as they stood rooted to the spot when David Amoo reacted quickly to notch his sixth of the campaign from a very tight angle.
It almost became a comfortable cushion when Symington and Beck switched play midway through the half to give Robson a free run at the target. He unleashed a towering drive which brought screams from the crowd as it edged its way onto the outside of the angle of post and bar.
Keeper Mark Gillespie took centre stage when he completed an amazing double save to keep his side in front. His initial parry from a Sheehan free kick which bulleted through the wall was immediately overshadowed by a one-handed reaction save as McGregor landed to bury the follow up.
Beck sliced an off-balance volley wide as Carlisle tried to establish a cushion and Gillespie was needed again when McGregor broke through to leave two in his wake from the counter attack. The keeper spread himself and somehow made the block.
A long ball forward from O’Hanlon had the Magpies stretched and it was Beck again who had his sights set on goal. A cheeky chip made Bialkowski back track before he plucked the dipping ball from beneath the bar.
The game was suddenly very open and an amazing intervention from Livesey stopped what looked to be a certain goal when Haber arrived late to bury a cross. Grealish was next in the queue but he was disappointed when he twisted inside only to direct a weak shot at the big stopper.
Leon McSweeney was next to claim hero status as he dropped behind the keeper for another inswinging delivery. It proved to be a good move as he was able to hook the ball clear before it crossed over the line.
County threw everything forward in the closing stages and Manny Smith should have done better when he was left unmarked. He made the header but he couldn’t keep it down. Haber rattled up the chances, and he put two wide in time added on, but it was all hands on deck for the final corner as Bialkowski joined everyone else inside the box. The keeper got to the ball but his header lacked conviction and that was that as the Carlisle crowd celebrated their win when the final whistle went.
United - Robson (40), Amoo (53)
County - McGregor (27)
United - Townsend (52)
Carlisle United - Gillespie, McSweeney, Livesey, O'Hanlon, Townsend, Thirlwell, Noble (Symington 30), Berrett, Amoo, Beck (Potts 85), Robson. Subs - Fleming, Gillies, Lynch, Brough, Guy.
Notts County - Bialkowski, Dumbuya, Sheehan, Liddle, Leacock (Smith 80), Grealish, McGregor, Haynes (Arquin 72), Labadie, Fotheringham (Haber 58), Boucaud. Subs - Thompson, Spiess, Tempest, Nangle.
Referee - Mr Eddie Ilderton
Attendance - 4,315 (224 away fans)