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Match Reports

MATCH REPORT: United 0 - 0 Rovers

Report from the Tuesday night home game

17 September 2019

United went into their Tuesday night home game on the back of a run of two wins, a draw and just one defeat from their last four games, and with a determination to match home form to their away day exploits.

And manager Steven Pressley stuck with the 3-4-3 formation which had brought success at Stevenage on Saturday, with new arrival Gethin Jones given the nod to make his first home start for the club, and Mo Sagaf called up in place of Christie Elliott.

A high ball into the box caused problems for Kitching as he tussled with Olomola inside the first minute and it was the United striker who bullied his way onto it as Nathan Thomas came into view. The wide man took a touch and turned sharply on the spot but his instinctive toe-poke was gathered up comfortably by Lewis Thomas.

Carlisle broke from deep moments later with Bridge in good possession of the ball. He strode towards the box, looked up and slid a deft pass along the line of the 18-yard box. Olomola checked his run to strike it but a good block from Rawson protected the target.

Rovers got forward in numbers in response and Taylor showed good feet as he wormed his way through a number of challenges inside the 'D'. He tried to shoot but it came off Jones and spooned over the bar and into the Warwick Road End.

United thought they'd done enough with nine minutes on the clock when Mike Jones sparked a break from the edge of his own area with a lovely turn on the ball. Nathan Thomas set off on a 60-yard run leaving two defenders in his wake as he bore down on goal. It seemed to stick under his boot just as he shaped to shoot and that allowed Lewis Thomas the opportunity to spread himself and make the save.

An excellent inswinging free kick from Thomas had to be nodded behind, following a rash challenge by Mills on Olomola as Carlisle continued to chip away at the stubborn defence, and another low, wicked set piece delivery almost crept in at the front stick until the keeper put his leg in the way.

United stopper Adam Collin gave another example of the fine form he's in when he found himself as the last line of defence after Mills had slipped Aitchison into a dangerous position. A thumping close-range strike was somehow turned round the post by a diving outstretched hand.

Both sides looked to play a passing game, and Thomas drilled a 25-yarder over the bar after Bridge and Knight-Percival had moved it from back to front following what had been a patient spell from Rovers.

A stinger from Winchester was well handled by Collin as it came at him through bodies at head height, with the game ebbing and flowing, but Jack Iredale should have been off the mark at the other end when the ball spun his way.

Nathan Thomas had done the hard work when he skipped in to take the ball off Kitching, and he initially sent the delivery at McKirdy as the wide man angled a run. It took a touch off Rawson and that set it up nicely for the volley. Iredale connected firmly but it whipped just past the upright.

Carlisle came again as Thomas picked up the pace but he had to check his run and wait for McKirdy to come into play. He had plenty to do as he dropped a shoulder but he couldn't keep his effort down and it sailed over the bar.

The Cumbrians looked up for it and Olomola disguised a pass to outfox the defenders as he set off on a winding run. His cross found Sagaf in a very advanced area and his volley on the stretch wasn't too far away.

A superb pass from the halfway line from Mike Jones almost carved the Rovers defence apart, with the game very finely balanced, and Sagaf pulled away from his marker to try to make it his own. It needed a good touch but it was an inch too far away and Lewis Thomas scampered out to snaffle it up.

There was danger at the other end when a reverse pass found Mills on his own. He crossed early, and Collin had to dive aggressively to parry it away. Gethin Jones kept his concentration to complete the clearance.

Collin had more to do in time added on for the half when Bridge hesitated to clear danger on the angle of his own box. Taylor's eyes lit up as it squirmed his way but the in-form glovesman was equal to the task with another strong one-handed touch.

The second period started with Rovers seeing plenty of the ball, without quite managing to find a way through. A cross from Godwin-Malife on 50 minutes looked to have ricocheted its way to Mills, but Gethin Jones and Webster combined to close the door.

Midfielder Jack Bridge produced another incisive run from deep as clear-cut chances remained at a premium, and he was disappointed when his clipped attempt rose quickly and flew over the nets.

Rovers looked like they were about to celebrate on 57 minutes when a heavy touch from Sagaf brought an unexpected attack down the left flank. It was put on a plate for Aitchison but Collin stepped across to make another fine block.

The visitors appealed loudly for a penalty just after the hour when Mike Jones blocked a cross from Taylor, and there was more controversy at the other end when a ball into space from Sagaf set McKirdy free. The referee called play to a halt having judged that a foul had been committed during the build up.

Match official Michael Salisbury caused a real moment of confusion on 70 minutes when James Morton chopped Hallam Hope to the floor. He showed a yellow, and rightly so, but completely forgot that he'd already booked the offending player in the first half. He was eventually put straight by his fourth official, with a red correctly produced, and that was followed by a further booking for manager Steven Pressley as he vented his frustration at the strange goings on.

Carlisle now had the one-man advantage and they almost made it pay immediately as Mike Jones slipped a lovely pass through to Hope. The striker was pushed wide and his cross was blocked at source.

Untidy defending from Rovers brought Knight-Percival forward and he unleashed a rare shot as he bounced a one-two off Bridge. It hit two bodies as it pinged this way and that, and Olomola could do nothing as it rattled against his shin and sped behind to safety.

A well-worked free kick tight by the corner flag almost brought purchase for the hosts when Thomas sent it short to Bridge. His flighted cross clipped the bar and fell into the six-yard box, but it was a defender who got there first to swipe it high.

Substitute Christie Elliott almost scored with his first touch when he got onto the end of a cross from Bridge literally seconds after coming on, but his header zipped agonisingly over the bar.

A late appeal for a home penalty was ignored by the officials, when Hope appeared to be dragged to the floor, and Nathan Thomas was also given the cold shoulder as he went down heavily when he tried to get on the end of good work from Hope.

The whistle blew on a share of the spoils for the combatants, with both sides left to ponder what might have been.

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Bookings 

Carlisle United - Pressley (71), M Jones (76), Webster (79), Iredale (83), N Thomas (86)

Forest Green Rovers - Morton (18 & 70 - sent off), Winchester (37)

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Teams

Carlisle United - Collin (c) (gk), Sagaf (Elliott 86), G Jones, Webster, Knight-Percival, Iredale, N Thomas (Loft 90), Bridge, M Jones, McKirdy (Hope 67), Olomola. Subs - Gray (gk), Mellish, Branthwaite, Sorensen.

Forest Green Rovers - L Thomas, Bernard, Rawson, Winchester, Stevens, Morton, Kitching, Godwin-Malife (Shephard 57), Mills (c), Taylor (Adams 73), Aitchison (Mondal 75). Subs - Wollacott (gk), Grubb, Allen, McGinley.

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Match officials

Referee - Michael Salisbury
Assistant Referee 1 - Chris Isherwood
Assistant Referee 2 - Simon Clayton
Fourth Official - Daniel Woodward

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Attendance - 3,219 (76 away fans)


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