MATCH REPORT: Summary of the Easter home game

League leaders Lincoln City were the Good Friday visitors to Brunton Park with the Imps looking to claim the League Two title to go with their already secured promotion.

They headed north with a 19-game unbeaten run to protect, but they came up against a home side who needed the points for their own reasons with a surge back towards the play-off places remaining high on the agenda.

And it was a disciplined, high intensity and eye-catching performance from the home side which eventually saw them through courtesy of a superb goal from midfielder Mike Jones.

Manager Steven Pressley made four changes to the starting eleven, with a return from suspension for Jones and a welcome back from injury for Kelvin Etuhu and Jamie Devitt. Defender Anthony Gerrard was also recalled in an attempt to bolster the defence. 

Lincoln looked dangerous as they started the game well and they pushed forward on five minutes when Shackell broke a Carlisle move up inside the centre circle. Andrade called for it, but his cross was half-cleared by Parkes. It was recovered by Anderson, and his follow up delivery found Akinde on the move. The big forward got to the header but he couldn't guide it at the target. 

A corner delivery following another break from Akinde was cleared by Jones, with the visitors in confident mood, but Toffolo was quickly onto it. He dropped a shoulder and tried a shot, but blue shirts were out quickly to make the block. 

United had half a sight when Andrade stumbled as he tried to carry the ball out of defence. Devitt wasted no time at all in getting his delivery across and into the mix but the slightest of touches from Shackell was enough to take it away from Hope.

The sides battled for supremacy in midfield for long periods, with neither team managing to make inroads, and strong tackles from Jones, Etuhu and Scougall indicated that the hosts were up for the fight.

A foul by Shackell on Hope 26-yards from the target handed Devitt the opportunity to test Gilks, but the keeper was equal to it as a fizzing effort threatened to dip beneath the bar. It needed a firm hand from the stopper to send it into the Waterworks End.

Three corners followed from Devitt, and they all caused problems, with the first two cleared from inside the six-yard box. The third went deep and Lincoln regrouped to smother the danger.

The Cumbrians started to dominate and a great ball from Scougall almost unpicked the lock as he found Devitt in space. He sprinted forward, but Shackell was on hand to mop it up.

Bad news followed for the captain of the Imps moments later when he lunged in on Devitt in an attempt to win the ball. Referee Lee Mason had no hesitation in pulling out a second yellow card and giving him his marching orders. 

A bizarre booking followed as substitute Cian Bolger attempted to enter the field of play long before McCartan, the player he was replacing, had got anywhere near the touchline.

United enjoyed a good spell of pressure as Scougall and Etuhu pulled the strings, and a cross from Parkes was put back into the mix by O'Hare as the ball was switched smoothly from left to right. Hope was just an inch in front of it and O'Hara swept it away.

Carlisle came again when Scougall burst into a gap as the home side went on the counter. He played O'Hare on the overlap, but his first time pass was too close to O'Hara and the off-balance defender was able to guide it back to his keeper.

The lively Stefan Scougall was gifted an opportunity on the stroke of half time when poor defending left him with a clean sight of goal. His shot on the run skipped off the surface and Gilks had to dive low to grasp it.

United had a great chance to open the scoring on 50 minutes when Parkes ran forward from defence. He found O'Hare, who then found Scougall, and he looked up to put Devitt through on the overlap. A whipped cross came but it was just behind the advancing strikers.

More good work from Devitt saw him find an acre of space in a dangerous position. He unleashed a stunning shot but Gilks was up smartly to palm it away from the top corner.

The hosts were dealt a blow on 53 minutes when the influential Jamie Devitt appeared to pull up with a recurrence of his hamstring injury. He was quickly replaced by Nathan Thomas. 

Carlisle kept pushing and O'Hare beat the offside trap to get wide on the left. A teasing low delivery skimmed across the six-yard box and bent harmlessly behind. 

Lincoln gave their fans something to cheer when a Pett shot was diverted behind for a corner. Collin fumbled the initial catch from the set piece but he made very quick amends. 

Substitute Macaulay Gillesphey almost made an immediate impact when he fooled the wall at a 24-yard free kick by keeping the ball low. Gilks readjusted quickly to gather it in as it came at his ankles.

The game lifted in intensity, with both sides pushing, and a run from Akinde had to be watched as he weaved and bobbed his way into the area. A crossfield pass from Gillesphey at the other end was volleyed by Hope but he was on the stretch and it dropped well wide. 

A direct run from Thomas took him through two challenges as he tried to make things happen, but he was shown a yellow card as he went on the slide in an attempt to finish the move off.

United prodded, as Lincoln tried to work on the break, and the home efforts bore fruit on 76 minutes when Mike Jones set himself for a first-time volley from 30-yards. The keeper had no chance as it flew into his bottom corner.

Keeper Adam Collin was needed moments later when a deep free kick was headed at Rowe by Akinde. A stunning volley was matched by an equally stunning save from the stopper, but it was hearts in the mouth time as it rebounded back off Parkes and headed for the line. The defender did his own cleaning up as he swept the ball away from the nets to preserve the clean sheet.

The Blues had defending to do as the Imps bombarded the box, but Hope had half a chance when he was played into the opposition area at a tight angle. He shot on the turn but it was always heading high.

A late free kick from Thomas eventually smashed into the side netting as runs were made, and a cruncher from Hope had to be diverted behind when he beat his man and aimed for the top corner. 

A run from O'Hare ended the same way, and Thomas was the width of the woodwork away from celebrating a late, late goal as he hit the post following great work from Scougall.

The blue tide kept coming, as Etuhu sent one straight at Gilks, and O'Hare could have wrapped it up as he broke beside Hope deep into time added on. He went to place his shot but it lacked power, making it easy for the keeper to claim.

The hosts were confirmed as title party poopers when the final whistle blew as they went back to within touching distance of the play-offs, with three games left to play, having brought a close to a 19-game unbeaten run for the Imps.



Carlisle United - Jones (76)



Carlisle United - Gerrard (21), Thomas (67), Kennedy (83), Liddle (90)

Lincoln City - Shackell (26 & 30 - sent off), Bolger (34), Bostwick (87)



Carlisle United - Collin, Liddle, Gerrard, Parkes, Miller (Gillesphey 59), Jones, Etuhu, Scougall, Devitt (Thomas 53), O'Hare, Hope. Subs - Gray, Kennedy, Slater, Simpson, Branthwaite. 

Lincoln City - Gilks, Shackell, O'Hara, Pett, Andrade (Rowe 57), Toffolo (Roberts 81), Bostwick, McCartan (Bolger 34), Eardley, Anderson, Akinde. Subs - Vickers, O'Connor, Rhead.


Referee - Mr Lee Mason

Attendance - 6,824 (2,104 away fans)

Read Time: 7 mins