Entertaining Tuesday afternoon draw at Middlesbrough
Carlisle were given a tough test by the Boro U21 squad on Tuesday afternoon but it ended all square as both sides enjoyed good spells of possession.
Boro grabbed the lead with just 3 minutes on the clock when Fry burst through to shoot. The effort was blocked but Morelli reacted quickly to sweep a deflected volley past Hanford and into the roof of the net.
United pushed forward and Osei fed Sweeney into a good area when he went on the overlap. Maloney forced a corner and Leacock was unlucky to see his header fly over the bar.
Another good visiting move took Osei past his man and a flick from Gilliead invited Sweeney to go for the overhead kick. The keeper was well placed to scoop it up.
The hosts should have doubled their lead when a misplaced pass put Mondal clean through. He let fly with a thunderbolt which Hanford tipped onto the bar.
It was a busy spell for the Carlisle stopper and he saved with his feet when Morelli skipped past a challenge and shot low. The loose ball was whipped back at the target but the slightest of touches from Gillesphey took it onto the angle of post and bar.
United had the first chance of the second half when Osei found himself in unexpected space inside the area. He lost his balance as he put his boot through the ball and it spun into the sky.
The Cumbrians were back on level terms just past the hour when Brough picked a path down the left flank. His low cross on the run had Joe Thompson interested and he left the keeper with no chance as he guided a first time shot into the bottom corner.
The goal of the game came on 66 minutes when the lively Fry surged out of his own half. He evaded three challenges before putting it on a plate for a crisp rifled finish.
Chances were exchanged but Carlisle got their second equaliser of the day when Brough popped another good cross into the box. The defence was wrong-footed and a bouncing volley dumped the keeper on the floor as it skipped over his outstretched hands.
United coach Lee Dykes said: “We enjoyed this one. It was a great opportunity for those lads who haven’t played as many minutes as they would have liked to get good pitch time under their belts and they were given a real test.
“They’ve shown us again that they are all ready for selection at the drop of a hat. That’s very pleasing and it confirms that we have a good group. It’s important that we keep these players topped up so the gaffer knows he can call on them and rely on them at the same time.”
“It’s a great relationship we have with Middlesbrough,” he continued. “They play every game, whatever level, at high intensity and it’s good for us to know that. We picked the fixture because they treat it as they would a competitive fixture. That’s what we need from games like this.
“It was great for us to see Dave Atkinson come through an hour with no problems. It was disappointing for him and us when we lost him so early in the season and it was an accomplished display from him this afternoon.
“It was massive for Dean Leacock as well because he came through a full 90 minutes. That’s a huge step in his recovery process. I thought he played extremely well but he’s one the manager knows particularly well. He’s a very good footballer and he looked like he enjoyed it.”
“Overall we come away feeling very pleased with how things have gone,” he concluded. “We’d like to thank Middlesbrough for the way they’ve looked after us yet again and for the professional way they approached the game.
“Our lads know they’ve had a tough 90 minutes and I think it was of real benefit to everyone.”
United – Hanford (Bacon 82), Atkinson (Douglas 66), Leacock, Gillesphey (Trialist 46), Thompson, Sweeney (Trialist 63), Meppen-Walter, Hammell, Gilliead (Trialist 46), Osei, Rigg (Brough 46).