MATCH REPORT: United hosted the Abbeymen on Saturday

The Blues were at home to mid-table outfit Cambridge United on Saturday afternoon as they looked to make it back-to-back home league victories following on from the win over Macclesfield Town at the beginning of November.

Caretaker manager Gavin Skelton was at the helm for a second time and he made one change to the starting line-up with Jon Mellish stepping up in place of Byron Webster.

An early corner for Cambridge was knocked to the edge of the box by Branthwaite but Taft was there to put his boot through a volley. That hit a defender and the home side was able to clear its lines. 

It was a good start from the visitors and persistence in the tackle saw them eventually get the ball to Roles. He was at a distance but he opted to shoot as he spotted a gap. Collin watched in comfort as it bounced into the Warwick Road End advertising hoardings.

United found a spark when they played their way through midfield with Carroll at the heart of it. He spread it to Gethin Jones, and his initial drilled cross was just an inch too far in front of Loft. Thomas recovered it, and he in turn found McKirdy as another good delivery came in. The winger dropped a shoulder and whipped it across but there was nobody there to finish it off. 

The game settled into a midfield battle, with a 30-yard effort which rolled wide from Olomola the only other moment of note from the opening 20 minutes. 

The Blues won a corner when Iredale popped a pass forward for McKirdy to chase with the home team looking to up the ante. Loft got there with a header but it looped down and the whistle blew as he was judged to have handled the ball.

Carlisle won a free kick half way inside the away half just before the break and the delivery from Thomas was on the money as Olomola peeled off his marker at the back post. Eight yards out he connected with a fierce header but it was always angling disappointingly into the side netting.

Up at the other end and Cambridge were gifted a chance when Branthwaite got the ball stuck under his feet. Smith was onto it but he wheeled away in disappointment as his volley flew high and wide.

The Abbeymen had half chances in time added on for the first period, but Smith headed over from a Jones cross and Dallas was stopped by Collin as he tried to force a way through from another high delivery.

There was an inquisition immediately after the break when McKirdy clipped a fantastic free kick into the mix. It caught the Abbeymen on their heels and blue shirts were left looking at each other as they failed to anticipate what would have been a simple tap-in.

United were even closer moments later when McKirdy found space on the left flank. His cross found Olomola on the leap but Mitov completed a fine save as it whistled at his top corner.

Cambridge sent men forward as they looked to get something going but efforts from Maris and Dallas were easily blocked as Collin remained protected. 

Another high ball into the box caused real problems for the visiting defence as Loft made a nuisance of himself. It pinged around and Harry McKirdy was almost celebrating as he nodded it towards the far corner. Darling got just enough on it to divert it past the post.

Striker Ryan Loft headed wide when he got onto a deep free kick from Thomas as the clock ticked down, and wide man Thomas went close himself when he carried the ball into the box following a headed pass by Carroll. It took a deflection and Darling was needed to clear it off the line as it spun past stranded keeper Dimitar Mitov.

United survived a scare in time added on when Darling put a corner wide, and that was that as the sides had to settle for a share of the spoils.



Carlisle United - Loft (28), Carroll (70)

Cambridge United - Hannant (26), Lewis (38), Smith (83)



Carlisle United - Collin (gk) (c), G Jones, Branthwaite, Mellish, Iredale, Thomas, M Jones, Carroll, McKirdy (Hope 72), Olomola (Scougall 62), Loft. Subs - Gray (gk), Elliott, Hayden, Webster, Sagaf. 

Cambridge United - Mitov (gk), Knoyle, Jones, Taft (c) (Taylor 79), Hannant (O'Neil 64), Maris, Dunk, Darling, Smith, Lewis, Roles (Dallas 37). Subs - Burton (gk), Norville-Williams, Knibbs, Ward.


Match officials

Referee - Sebastian Stockbridge
Assistant Referee 1 - Richard Woodward
Assistant Referee 2 - Graeme Fyvie
Fourth Official - Simon Clayton


Attendance - 4,041 (191 away fans)

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