The versatility which has been a big part of Gary Liddle’s armoury throughout his 550-plus game career came to the fore once again on Friday when he was handed a new role for the away trip to Cheltenham.
Pushed forward into midfield, to act as a defensive screen for the back four, he found himself at the point of a four-man diamond with Luke Joyce and Mike Jones playing just ahead of him in what became a very effective buffer to most of the home side’s attack-minded play.
Speaking about the role just after full time, he said: “It’s something I’ve done before, just not for Carlisle United. I enjoyed it because it was set up to be one of those scrappy games.
“The manager sprung it on me late last night [Thursday] and it was something I was happy to do. It’s not too dissimilar to playing in central midfield and it’s about screening things off in the middle of the pitch. I did enjoy it and it was made all the better with us getting three points.
“The formation was new to me, and to Mike Jones and Luke Joyce as well. Jamie Devitt was ok because he’s played that attacking midfield role many times this season. There was a lot of work for Jona and Joycey, with them having to get out wide as well, but they got through it well.
“A little bit of a tactical change from the manager towards the end proved to be the difference. Hallam came on and made an impact and it was a great slot by Dev. We were a little bit on the back foot in the first half, but we did well to stay in the game and we knew we’d get chances going into the second half.”
On the importance of the three points, he told us: “It is massive for us because it was that way before kick-off, coming into the game. We knew we had a points difference to make up and that this was always going to be a defining weekend.
“It was important that we gave ourselves the best possible opportunity going into Monday’s game, and that’s now the big one for us. We’re four points behind them now so hopefully the fans will come down to it and help us to win it.
“If we continue on the form we’re on currently it promises to be an exciting end to the season.”
With the victory built on the platform of another clean sheet, he commented: “I’ve just been speaking to Jack Bonham about that and he said that’s thirteen now, with Shamal George also getting one in the cup.
“That’s a massive difference to what we were getting last season and we all know that if you keep clean sheets you’ll always be in with a chance of winning games. A 1-0 win away from home is always the best result.”
And we couldn’t let him go without talking about a ‘heart in the mouth’ moment which came late in the game when his challenge just inside the area brought loud screams for a penalty from the home contingent.
“There’s no way it was a penalty,” he insisted. “I think he was shouting out of hope more than anything.
“It was a clean tackle and I was more annoyed that I’d kicked it out for a corner. It was the same for Dev when he had a shout, you go for it to see if you get anything, but the one the referee did give is the one he got right in the game.”
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