A change of formation and a sharp half-time chat set the tone for a strong second half display from the Blues on Saturday afternoon as they took control and scored the decisive goal that earned them three points against Salford.
Speaking after the game, manager Chris Beech explained: “I’m just really pleased to get a win for the supporters. I was disappointed at this time last week but the lads who represented us on Tuesday did a great job.
“I’m very happy that we’ve responded again because we understand last Saturday wasn’t good enough. However, today it is, and we’re pleased about that.
“We weren’t quite where we wanted to be in the first half, even though we got our goal, so we changed shape. I wanted Zach Clough and Tristan Abrahams to make sure Salford couldn’t get out through their centre-backs, because they’re very good at doing that.
“If you notice after we changed our shape it was actually easier for Salford to get out from that area, because of the way they reacted. With the subs we then made it meant Jon Mellish, Joe Riley and Callum Guy could match up rather than having to have one of my centre halves coming out to step in.
“The substitutes, credit to them, ignited a bit more positivity. I felt we needed the change to our shape because it also enabled us to cope with their movement better. There’s a stand-off and balance to it, and you don’t know until you do it if it will help us, but more than that, like I say, I thought the substitutes helped us keep that energy level high against a very good opponent.
“The subs and the shape change helped, but who knows, if we’d kept the same shape Tristan might have scored three. That’s football for you.
“Today we played a narrow three, with an outside left, we did it a lot at Huddersfield, we did it with Scott Sellars who was getting older, but it allowed me, like Jon Mellish, to get in the box.
“You tend to get more crosses from it from your wide men, and Zach Clough scored his goal even though it was marginally offside, because it got a nick through off Tristan. Zach’s a good player so he’ll be fine and those moments will come for him.”
And it was the second 45 minutes in particular that got the crowd on its feet as the Cumbrians protected their goal and created a string of good chances.
“The lads dug in hard and created some great counter-attacking situations,” he agreed. “We didn’t quite finish them to make things a little bit more comfortable and you’re always a little bit nervous at 2-1, especially when the fourth official puts up four minutes of added time!
“The lads defended well and saw it out, which is great credit to them. Salford are bound to have some good spells, everybody knows what they’ve got.
“We kept them quiet for the most part, apart from when Magnus passed it straight to them, but he saved in that moment. I can’t recall him having too many other saves to make so from that point of view I am very pleased.
“Mind you, I do wish the lads would make it a bit easier so we could all relax a little bit towards the end. We had chances to score more goals, we hit the target, but they were a bit tame.
“If we got one of those right it would have been a little bit easier. I am Carlisle’s manager and I know it’s generally very difficult to relax, but I’m pleased with how we dealt with a little bit of pressure towards the end.”
Having conceded just before the break, he told us: “Their goal was poor. It was so frustrating and it almost happened in slow motion.
“Ian Henderson is a very good player who I’ve got a lot of respect for because he helped me at my old club massively. He was constantly running today and playing the defender before the ball.
“He sometimes doesn’t even look at the ball but he gets away with it because he’s smaller, it causes issues and it did for the goal. They got a little bounce and Morris got his shot off, which went through Corey’s legs.
“I was right behind it and I could see it was bobbling into the corner, which was frustrating. Before the goal we didn’t sit back, but they’re that good that we were in the middle part of the pitch, but they had possession.
“I was quite happy with that because they were popping the ball about without hurting us. It was difficult because I was trying to tell Joe Riley not to break the line and chase the centre half because that means they can pass through the gap he leaves.
“We got it right in the end and kept some very good players quiet, so I’m really pleased for everybody.”
And closing the game out was a good lesson in game management, with the odd smattering of naivety thrown in just to keep us on our toes.
“For one of the youngest squads in the league I can only commend that,” he commented. “Normally you have a lot of older players who contain things and, if you noticed, Jon Mellish is still running quickly to take a throw when we’re winning and it’s late in the game.
“Manny Mampala in his excitement is trying to drop a shoulder and get a cross in, when he should be holding it in the corner and ticking time away. There are little decisions like that where we can make life a little bit easier.
“When Lewi Alessandra had a shot which went straight at the keeper, I’d rather it go out for a goal kick so he can’t just catch it and play it forward quickly.”
“It was great at full time to be able to celebrate with the fans, and it makes it worth working your nuts off for it,” he added. “To be able to share it is brilliant, I’m so pleased because I was disappointed last Saturday and the boys knew that.
“To respond how they did mentally and physically on Tuesday and today is really commendable. It’s about winning and supporting the boys that are playing. It’s about trying to represent the community and share that winning feeling with them.
“Whether that happens because of a lot of work from me or not a lot of work, I can be very good at my job and lose, the value is in three points, no matter what you do.
“You can take your foot off the gas and do what you want, then go and win on a Saturday and you’re the best thing since sliced bread. We got great backing from the fans, I had to nip off to the toilet towards the end and I could hear them inside the stadium, which puts goosebumps on my arms, never mind the lads.
“They all enjoy the reaction from their fans and we can see the squad is as competitive as it was last season, and individually it has technicalities that are slightly stronger. Numbers are small, which is good, because we’ll all work hard together, and the window is shut, which I’m very happy about.
“It means we can concentrate on fixtures and nobody is going to pull the rug, which happened twice to us in August. We need to accept that this one is a victory but also accept there’s a long way to go.”
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