Match report from the Saturday youth gameCarlisle United’s youth side came into this fixture against Walsall looking to get back to winning ways having come close the previous week as Darren Edmondson’s side lost out by the odd goal in seven at Bury.
On a day of difficult conditions at Creighton, however, United would once again fall just short, coming back from a two goal deficit only to fall to a 3-2 defeat.
United were slow out of the blocks and immediately made the afternoon difficult from themselves, gifting the visitors a two goal head start within twelve minutes.
The response was swift, however, as Jack Egan opened the scoring for the hosts on 17 minutes. Fresh from a brace the previous weekend Egan was on hand to meet a good Max Cowburn delivery at the near post to direct the ball into the back of the Walsall net.
From here United set about the task of getting back on terms with a good driving run from Cameron Salkeld breaking down on the edge of the area in the 26th minute. The move was typical of much of the first half with the hosts winning the midfield battle only to struggle with the final ball and remain frustrated by the offside trap.
After keeper Lee Ashton had gathered an astute chip from the visitors in the 28th minute it was Salkeld’s turn again to be involved in the action as he fired wide to the right having been fed on the edge of the area by Cowburn.
The game continued to ebb and flow with Dean Watson in particular providing United with much of their impetus in midfield, and after Walsall had seen their 36th minute effort blocked at the far post Cowburn tried his luck from range a minute later, unable to get the accuracy on his shot to test the visiting keeper.
It was fitting the last act of the first half went to United as a free kick found its way to Jordan Holt on the rebound with the captain’s shot deflected wide for a corner.
United came out of the blocks quickly in the second half, and within three minutes of the restart had the second goal they had worked so hard for in the first period - Egan firing home with an excellent strike from 20 yards out.
From here the hosts looked to kick on and take all three points but just as their response to a goal had been swift in the first half, Walsall’s was equally swift in the second as Ashton parried well at his near post but could do nothing to stop the follow-up from short range rippling the back of his net.
The goal came on 53 minutes and marked the end of a period in which United had enjoyed much the better of the game. The introduction of Keiran Hall for Brown on the hour mark gave the hosts a fresh pair of legs but they were unable to make use of the introduction on 63 minutes with a good ball over the top from Rhys Groves carrying a little too much pace and finding its way straight through to the Walsall stopper.
The visitors too introduced fresh legs as they looked to make sure of the points and saw consecutive shots blocked either side of the 75 minute mark before fizzing the ball over from a good position on 79 minutes.
The outlet for United increasingly became the ball over the top with Salkeld unable to find his man five minutes from time. The hosts made a double substitution as the clock began to wind down with Luke Lloyd and Sam Adewusi the men brought on in place of Kieron Olsen and Watson, and the United defence continued to hold firm against the Walsall attacks with Ashton in particular doing well to parry away a rasping shot three minutes from time.
It was only right the last word went to United and to Egan, but the youngster was unable to direct the ball goalwards as a 90th minute free kick fell to him as the hosts fell just short of a point for a second week running.
Speaking after the full time whistle, Dave Wilkes praised the spirit of his young side to respond having gone two goals down early on: “I thought first half it was a good performance apart from some of the defending, just the goals that are too cheap really. If we can stop giving those types of goals away and deal with them better we’d be okay.
“We seem to do it every week but I can’t fault the spirit of the lads in the first half and from losing two goals we got back to two all. In the second half I hoped we’d push on but it didn’t really go that way. Jack scored a fantastic goal in the second half and I thought we might have kicked on from it but it didn’t really happen, we didn’t create enough chances and cause them enough problems in the second half.”
Wilkes also spoke after the game on another two goals for Jack Egan: “Jack’s first goal was a good cross from Max Cowburn and he’s cleverly got in front of his defender and put it into the bottom corner. The second goal was different class, he’s made a great little blind-side run and then an excellent finish from about 20 yards - absolutely top drawer.”