United used part of their time at the Inverclyde National Training Centre in Largs for a friendly with Scottish Premier League side Livingston on Tuesday afternoon, and it was an encounter played out in muggy, baking heat which proved to be a good test for both teams.
The Blues started brightly and a one-two and a sprint from Mellish and Armer made space for a cross. It was blocked by Shinnie, and Hilton took charge of the resulting corner.
A beauty of a delivery had Barclay interested, and he thought he’d done the trick with a powerful header that ripped towards the net. Connal Trueman spread himself to make a fantastic point blank save, but he was relieved to see the follow up volley from Mellish rip past his post.
United came again when Back sent an accurate pass up the right flank. Sho-Silva was onto it, and he took a touch before clipping it into the box. Armer had followed the move, and he forced another top class save out of Trueman with a crunching downward header.
Back was lively once again when he skipped into the middle of the park to take the ball from Devitt. He weighed up his options and picked out Edmondson, who was strong as it came his way. He tried to find a gap, but it was poked off his toe just as he shaped to finish.
The Cumbrians dominated the early exchanges and Moxon probed with a perfect through ball for Back. He fed it inside to Hilton, and his fizzed delivery was glanced on the jump by Sho-Silva. The stopper was beaten but it angled just wide after the centre back had got a thigh in the way.
Carlisle thought they’d scored when Hilton dinked the corner into a dangerous area. It appeared that Whelan expected Bahamboula to get there, and he had to readjust quickly to volley. It came off the inside of his shin and grazed the outside of the post, much to his annoyance.
Livi showed as an attacking force when Anderson dropped deep before picking out Holt. Mellish prevented the shot when he recovered sharply to complete the challenge.
Edmondson nodded over under pressure from the keeper when Back centred with a dipper of a cross, and Devitt lurked moments later as Hilton lined up a 23-yard free kick. It was rolled to the midfielder, and he was ready to celebrate until it popped off the surface and spun past the post.
Holy had two tricky corners to deal with just past the half hour, and he sparked a lightning quick break as he released on the run, having pulled it into his chest. Armer and Hilton found support from Back, and he won a corner as he burst into the box.
Moxon showed great feet when the short routine came his way, and he brushed aside a tackle to let fly from the edge of the area. It was right at Trueman and he gathered it in.
Dave Martindale’s team started to see more of the ball after the drinks break, and a moment of hesitation in the centre of defence left Bahamboula with a clean sight of the target. Holy was alert and he was down sharply to save.
It was nip and tuck leading up to the break, but the Cumbrians were made to pay for their earlier misses when the white shirts nicked possession and bore down on goal, with the United contingent screaming for offside.
Anderson was almost foiled by Holy, who got firm hands to the effort, but the striker claimed the goal despite what looked to be a poke from the toe of Bahamboula as it skipped towards the line.
Things were much tighter in the second period as multiple substitutions and increased humidity levels played a part, but Jon Mellish ignored the heat to go on a surging run from inside his own half. He angled past three markers but his drilled thunderbolt struck a thigh and bounced to safety.
Chances were suddenly few and far between, but Breeze had to tip over from a Holt volley that threatened to find the roof of the net.
Hilton was close to doing the same at the other end when he bent one in from wide from a set piece, but the diving glovesman did just enough to help it on its way.
The pace of the game slowed as the clock ticked down, but there was all-round agreement that it had been an excellent 90 minutes with both teams well on the way down the road to getting ready for their respective opening games of the campaign.
United – Holy (Breeze 62), Barclay (Ellis 62), Whelan, Mellish (c) (Gibson 74), Back (Bell 62), Devitt, Moxon (Guy 62), Hilton (Kilsby 74), Armer, Sho-Silva (Dennis 74), Edmondson (Bollado 62).