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Match Reports

MATCH REPORT: United 1 - 0 Crawley

Report from the Saturday afternoon season opener

30 July 2022

The Blues kicked their season off with a home game, with Crawley Town the visitors to Brunton Park on what was another muggy summer's afternoon.

There were debuts for Fin Back, Ben Barclay, Ryan Edmondson, Tomas Holy and Owen Moxon as United boss Paul Simpson went with the expected wing-back shape.

Missing through injury and illness were Jamie Devitt, Brennan Dickenson and Tobi Sho-Silva, with Josh Dixon and Joel Senior still on the long road to recovery from their ACL set-backs.

Keeper Michael Kelly was on the bench, having agreed his new deal ahead of the registration deadline, and there was also a place with the finishers for youth second-year Nic Bollado, who had shone through pre-season when he made the step up to train and play with the first-team group.

The Blues started strongly and they had a great chance on four minutes when Back used strength to keep the ball after Guy and Dennis had combined high up the pitch. The wing back stepped into the area and found Edmondson, but his first-time shot was parried by the alert Ellery Balcombe.

Carlisle kept the escape route shut as they harried the red shirts, and a ball into the box was contested by Edmondson. He saw a poke with his toe come back off Omole, and a half clearance from him spooned into the air, off Moxon, when he closed things down. Dennis controlled it before clipping his effort into the bottom corner from 12-yards out.

United came again when Barclay floated a beauty of a pass from deep. Edmondson stuck a boot out to meet it and the keeper was relieved to see it bobble past his upright.

Corners from Moxon caused problems early in the piece, with the away team twice fortunate to get dipping deliveries away. The recovery from the second swipe put Gibson beyond his marker, and his cut back had to be dealt with as Edmondson and Dennis converged.

It was a forceful opening from the Cumbrians and Dennis turned a difficult pass into a chance to cross when he stretched out a boot to bring the ball into his path. He scampered to get there, and Back was unlucky as he met the stinging driven pass. Edmondson then had a shot charged down in the scramble that followed, with the away nets living a charmed life.

A surging run from Callum Guy caught Crawley light at the back once again when he came out of a 50:50 with the ball at his feet. Edmondson overlapped and returned the favour with a delightful pass. Guy was off balance as he chipped it over the target from close range.

Guy was at the heart of it once more when he tackled, looked up and pinged it to Dennis. The striker got the ball out of his feet and he forced a fingertip save out of Balcombe as he aimed for the bottom corner.

The visitors showed for their first threat of the day on 28 minutes when Telford ghosted into the box, leaving space for Tilley to exploit. He went for it from 20-yards but it clipped a heel, and the outside of the post, on its way to safety.

United carved the defence open on 33 minutes when Gibson stepped through two challenges inside his own half. He continued his run as he bounced it off Edmondson, but Balcombe came off his line to spread himself and make the save. Edmondson was onto the rebound in a flash but he had two on him, and his effort was smothered.

Midfielder Owen Moxon spun a corner towards Barclay ahead of the break, and Francomb had to stretch to nod it away. Armer swung his boot through it as it dropped from high, and Edmondson wasn't too far away when he tried to cheekily divert it goalwards as he lurked on the penalty spot.

Tilley picked out Telford when Crawley edged their way to the edge of the box, but Holy was comfortable as he watched a snapshot whisk high and into the Warwick.

Telford was wayward moments later after Powell and Nichols had helped to make room for a drive. It screwed off the top of his boot and swirled beyond the angle of post and bar.

Forward Kris Dennis made a chance from nothing when he pressed high at the start of the second half. His reward was to steal the ball, and he wasted no time in shooting as he dropped a shoulder to shake off his man. Substitute keeper Corey Addai got both hands to it, and he sent it into the sky. 

United thought they'd done enough to score on 53 minutes when Gibson skipped clear in midfield. He fed it to Edmondson, and Addai was stranded when a corker of a cross bobbled across the face of goal. Armer arrived late, and the stopper was able to get a leg in the way when the return effort angled low.

Guy was felled as he looked to break the lines when the Blues came again, but Gibson was disappointed when he blazed the 23-yard free kick over the bar.

The chances kept coming and Gibson, a constant threat, was past his marker, head down and with just one thing in mind when he linked with Moxon. Addai again made the save, and Dennis swiped the parry wide as he came under pressure deep inside the box.

It was wonderful stuff from Moxon, Gibson and Back on the hour as they broke, almost with devastating effect. Gibson was checked as he went into the area from the Moxon through ball, but Back took over. He wriggled past two, but the cut back was cut out just in time.

Hearts were in mouths at the other end when Tilley went for it from 19-yards after Nadesan had picked him out. It hit Moxon, and Holy could on watch in hope, which proved to be fruitful, as it swerved into the side netting.

Vision from Moxon invited to Patrick to chase, with a measured high ball into space, as the hosts worked hard. The forward controlled with his thigh and wrestled his way past Francomb. The angle was suddenly tight and Addai was able to get himself in the way.

Gibson was pinpoint with a cross on 79 minutes that had the Red Devils at sixes and sevens. Feeney had stayed forward, and he got the slightest of touches. Addai thanked his lucky stars as it struck him, then somehow found its way past the post.

The offside flag cut short celebrations with eight minutes left to play when Edmondson stabbed one home from close range. Patrick, Back and Gibson had all knocked and knocked on the door, with huge slices of luck falling the way of the away team, but the assistant referee was there quickly to make his decision after it had eventually crossed the white line.

There were loud appeals for a penalty when substitute Corey Whelan was stopped in his tracks late in the day, when he linked with Back, but the referee was having none of it.

Gibson rattled one wide as Carlisle continued to press for a second, and Crawley almost nicked one in time added on when Tilley sent a free kick into the mix. Conroy got a head to it but it was wide, and Holy remained untested.

The Cumbrians looked fit, solid and disciplined and they deservedly received a huge ovation as the final whistle blew on their opening day victory.

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Match Sponsor - Story Contracting
Match Ball Sponsor - Border Brite
Match Ball sponsor - Futamura

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Goals

Carlisle United - Dennis (5)

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Bookings

Carlisle United - Armer (22)

Crawley Town - Balagizi (55), Omole (74), Tilley (78)

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Teams

Carlisle United - Holy, Barclay, Feeney (c), Mellish, Back, Gibson (Hilton 90), Guy (Whelan 85), Moxon, Armer, Dennis (Patrick 64), Edmondson. Subs - Kelly (gk), Ellis, Bell, Bollado.

Crawley Town - Balcombe (Addai 46), Conroy, Francomb (Adebuwale 87), Tilley, Powell (Hessenthaler 46), Nichols (c), Nadesan, Omole (Appiah 76), Telford, Balagizi (Jenks 70), Johnson. Subs - Francillette.

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Match officials

Referee - Thomas Kirk
Assistant Referee 1 - Graeme Fyvie
Assistant Referee 2 - Paul Newhouse
Fourth Official - Matt Corlett
Observer - Clive Oliver

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Attendance - 6,403 (166)


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