United’s final away game of the season at Leyton Orient had a bit of everything – goals, near misses, mistakes, smacking the woodwork, penalties, missed penalties and a last-minute winner which saw the Blues twice come from behind to make it one defeat in the last 10 games, and a guaranteed top 10 finish.
Speaking after full time, manager Chris Beech said: “I think the game itself epitomises the whole season. It had the good and the bad of what we can do.
“Nick [Anderton] and Aaron [Hayden] were outstanding, yet both in the first half made an individual mistake that gave Leyton their opportunities. For us to play away, in London, and have 23 shots or so at goal, that’s commendable.
“We scored three goals, missed a penalty, hit the bar and the post, and there’s a lot of activity going on in terms of attacking. To win it near the end was excellent. It shows the intent of the lads and I’m really proud of them for that, because it’s so easy to down tools with what’s gone on this season.
“I think it epitomises the season. I am a fighter and I look to drive people on. Sometimes people misunderstand that drive, but the players if they represent it will benefit, because we’ll win more than we’ll lose. That’s win number 18 of the season and, again, that’s commendable.”
Having gone behind twice, at the beginning and end of the first half, it would have been easy for the players to crumble, but it was the opposite as they stepped up to edge on top throughout the second period.
“They’ve shown the willingness to do that,” he said. “In bigger terms it’s significant in that we’ve been fighting for eight months in trying to make the play-offs, or achieve automatic promotion.
“To keep going when you’ve almost untied your own shoes within this game, and to keep running, is commendable for the players and staff and I’m really pleased we managed to get three points.
“The number of shots we had showed we were more dominant than the opponent, in terms of the openness. I think the drive of the team to want to do well for the club was on show. I’m so proud of them for doing that in what you could call a game that has no worth at this point.
“Everything’s important to me and the lads, maybe it’s a bit of that, they wanted to drive on and do their best, and in my eyes that’s what they did.”
“We played some good football, passed it well, and we were very attack minded,” he added. “It helps with the way the pitch is. Down south, it’s sunnier, warmer, the grass grows quicker and earlier in the year, and there’s nothing we can do about that unless we invest in some heat lamps.
“It’s a pleasure to play on that grass pitch, as it was against Cheltenham, because there was a lot of grass on that too. When it’s like that we can play football more. I do want us to play football in that way, but I want us to pass with a purpose.
“I don’t just want to pass, I want to play out from the back, but not play at the back. There’s a balance to that and we got most of it right on Saturday. We kept getting the ball in the final third but our forwards didn’t maximise their opportunities, even though we got three goals.
“Jon Mellish came on and looked refreshed, and his goal set us on our way, so well done to him for that. It’s from positive actions that other actions happen, and Omari winning the corner before that goal was an example of that.
“The three times Leyton went over the top they scored from two and got a penalty from the other. It would have been easy for the lads to fold, but they didn’t. They kept going and they deserved their win.”
Another moment that could have had an adverse impact on the away side was the first-half penalty miss, which appeared to have let the O’s off the hook.
“To be fair to Ozzy it was a poor penalty,” he commented. “I thought their penalty was hit pretty strong, but Magnus saved it. He gave the penalty away but importantly he saved it.
“We were comfortable, but we didn’t deal with a couple of balls over the top. That’s how we made the mistake early doors, that’s how they gained their penalty, and that’s how they scored their goals. For us to not gain from ours was disappointing.
“I’ve got a sore throat because I was shouting and driving them on. I wanted to win the game for the right reasons. Reducing shots from Leyton to a third of ours is good, and that comes after both Nick and Aaron made mistakes for their goals. They recovered from that, and that’s commendable.
“There were no flip-flops, it was a committed performance from everyone. Joe Riley and Callum Guy worked hard and concentrated in midfield, Jack Armer had another good game and George Tanner got better as the game went on.
“The centre halves recovered from their disappointments and battled to the point where they reduced the shots against us, and we have to accept that mistakes happen in football. It’s how players react that matters.
“We managed to pick ourselves up and create those 23 shots, and that brought us goals, woodwork, penalties and something to talk about. I’m really pleased for the players because they showed great character and they showed real pride in playing for Carlisle United.”
And with such a high shot count, it could easily have been a game that registered even more goals than the five it brought.
“You go and ask the Cambridge manager how he feels after Friday night!” he joked. “I’m just proud we represented Carlisle well, that we’re getting 23 shots at goal and that we scored three goals, hit the woodwork twice and missed a penalty.
“That’s pretty good for an away team coming here, against a team that are fighting, because they’re trying to get their manager the job. Leyton Orient didn’t give up and it was a good game.”
Looking at the formation and team selection, he explained: “We set up like we did because Leyton have three up top and they support that with energy and movement.
“They can dominate if you allow that, and I don’t want us to play that way. I want to compete and give the opponent something to think about. We picked our team and formation with that in mind and the lads worked ever so hard to get the result.
“Getting the winner in the way we did is testament to the team and, of course, George takes the plaudits. He’s back at it and he was brilliant on Tuesday, after a bit of rest. He trained well on Friday, thank Chorley, we trained at their pitch on the way down.
“I’m just pleased we’ve got the three points in London, especially with what happened in our home fixture with Leyton. I felt we deserved more within that game and they scored with the last kick. I’m really pleased we’ve been able to reverse that result.”
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