Skip to main content Skip to site footer
Match Reports

MATCH REPORT: United 1 - 1 Fleetwood

Report from the opening game of the season

5 August 2023

United ended their nine-season exile from League One with an opening day home game against Fleetwood Town.

Manager Paul Simpson handed debuts to Luke Plange and Sam Lavelle, who were both summer recruits, and fellow window signings Dylan McGeouch and Sean Maguire were on the bench.

Forest loanee Fin Back got the nod at right wing back, with Armer on the other side, and they were in front of the defensive trio of Lavelle, Huntington and Mellish. 

Gibson and Plange led the line, backed up by Guy, Moxon and McCalmont.

The crowd were up for it as they cheered their lads on through the opening exchanges and a deep free kick from Moxon found Huntington unmarked. He nodded it into a dangerous area but it wouldn't quite settle and the visitors were able to clear.

A looped ball forward from Nsiala had to be watched as Omochere chased, but Lavelle and Huntington combined to close the door.

Tenacity from Moxon in the middle of the park saw him win the ball back, as the hosts started to edge on top, and Mellish and Armer took turns at chipping away until space was made for the cross. Back sent his header on the leap into the Waterworks End.

Gibson was next to show real determination when he sneaked up on Mayor, who had dallied in possession not too far outside his own area. He measured the shot from distance but Lynch gathered it in.

There was a scare for the Blues when Mayor strode out of a tussle with Moxon with the ball at his feet. He had options, and he put it on a plate for Omochere to hit. Holy was in the right place to make it his.

Fleetwood came again when Graydon covered the yards before clipping it into the box. Vela arrived just in time, but his header on the stretch was also too close to the big stopper.

Lynch was almost caught out by a stunning, low, thumped strike from 22-yards from Gibson which zipped through legs on its way to the bottom corner. The keeper got down with a strong hand, and his back line reacted quickly as Plange tried to make the loose pieces count.

There were huge appeals for a penalty as McCalmont fed a pass through for the marauding Mellish to latch onto. Vela lunged, Mellish fell, the referee looked, the offside flag went up, and the Cumbrians were left feeling disappointed as he waved play on.

A turn of pace from Plange saw him get his head down before dinking a decent delivery on the run into the mix. Earl got it on his chest before hooking it into touch.

Carlisle thought they'd done the trick when Moxon drifted a free kick from the centre cirlcle towards the 18-yard box. Huntington rose and guided it towards the nets, but the retreating Omochere somehow diverted it over his own bar.

Robertson was wild and late with a challenge on Moxon 28-yards out, dead central, and the wronged man took charge of the placed ball. And wow - what a strike. Lynch had no chance is it ripped its way into his top corner. Goal of the season ... it won't be far off!

The Cumbrians looked confident and Moxon sprinted out of defence before sending Plange down the left flank. McCalmont and Gibson wanted it, and the latter bent a speculative effort just over when it unexpectedly came his way. 

Debutant Plange earned the praise of the fans when he put Earl under real pressure. His reward was to toe poke it onwards for Gibson to cross. It hit a defending calf and Lynch dropped low to make his catch.

United had a dangerous set piece to defend deep into added time for the half, but Patterson made it easy for Holy with a lacklustre delivery.

The Cod Army stayed forward and their persistence was made to count when a half clearance drom a deflected Patterson drive dropped for the unmarked Brendan Wiredu to volley. It was a crisp connection and Holy could only watch is it fizzed into the bottom corner.

Carlisle missed an absolute sitter of a chance with just 60 seconds on the second half clock when Moxon split the defence to put Back on the overlap. His first time cross from the byeline was accurate, and it left Gibson with the width of the nets to aim at. He opted to try to pick his spot rather than put his laces through it and he was disappointed to see it swirl harmlessly away to safety.

Holy was off his line to gather as a series of deflections threatened to present substitute Shaun Rooney with a chance. Huntington and Lavelle had also worked hard to limit the danger.

Fleetwood were next to go close when Rooney used Vela as a useful outlet. Lavelle was tight on Omochere, and he made his block from the initial shot, but it fell nicely for a second attempt. The angle was tight and it was just the wrong side of the upright.

The Cumbrians carved their way through once again with some lovely football as Guy and Armer exchanged slick passes. The cut back found McCalmont, but his sidefooted first-timer was wayward.

Carlisle were up for it and a measured cross from Back had Lynch worried. He had to put it over his own bar as he scrambled backwards.

A moment of skill from Gibson brought a twist and a drop of a shoulder that mesmerised his marker midway through the half. A stinger of a missile meant that Lynch had to palm it into the ground before claiming it as his own.

Mayor popped one high as the away team looked to make more of an impact, and Maguire and Garner were sent into the fray for the hosts with Plange and McCalmont leaving the pitch.

Holy was there to grasp a close-range Marriott volley after Rooney had moved into a gap on the right flank to deliver, and it became tense with neither side wanting to make a mistake.

A foul on Maguire gave Moxon another opportunity to rasp one low, this time from out wide, but it was stopped by a jump from the wall.

United had another very good shout for a spot kick turned down when Mellish made it his mission to get into the area. His winding run was brought to a close by what appeared to be a push in the back, but the referee showed absolutely no interest.

Guy was on free kick duties late in the day and he put one on Huntington's head as the defender found space. It wasn't too far away.

Lavelle blocked Graydon twice as red shirts burst forward, and that was just before a whopping 11 minutes of added time was shown by the fourth official.

The eighth minute of that mammoth addition brought a close call as Maguire rolled the ball for Armer to cross. Garner got on the end of it, and his crunching downward header was set to bulge the net until Lynch got enough of his gloves on the bounce to touch it over the target.

Holy stayed tall to block with his body as Hayes wound his way to a 10-yard shot  and, with the clock showing 103 minutes, the final whistle was blown on an opening day draw.


Match Sponsor - MKM
Associate Sponsor - Border Brite
Match Ball Sponsor - Jenkins Electrical Ltd



Carlisle United - Moxon (36)

Fleetwood Town - Wiredu (45+4)



Carlisle United - Huntington (4), Mellish (45+2)

Fleetwood Town - Brown (manager 56), Nsiala (73), Earl (85), Rooney (90+6)



Carlisle United - Holy, Lavelle, Huntington (c), Mellish, Back, McCalmont (Maguire 69), Guy, Moxon (Charters 79), Armer, Plange (Garner 68), Gibson (McGeouch 79). Subs - Breeze, Harris, Barclay.

Fleetwood Town - Lynch, Johnston, Wiredu (Rooney 49), Robertson, Vela (c), Mayor, Graydon (Asamoah 85), Omochere (Marriott 63), Nsiala, Earl, Patterson (Hayes 85). Subs - McMullan (gk), Broom, Quitirna.


Match officials

Referee - Peter Wright
Assistant Referee 1 - Simon Clayton
Assistant Referee 2 - Jake Topp
Fourth Official - Aaron Jackson
Observer - Michael Pike


Attendance - 10,279 (423 away)

Advertisement block

iFollow Next Match Tickets Account