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RESERVES: Boro 5 - 1 United

Report from the Wednesday afternoon away game

20 September 2023

United's latest reserve fixture was against Middlesbrough at their Rockliffe Training Centre.

On a day that brought everything from torrential rain and howling winds to bright sunshine, United's mix of youth and first-team players started slowly, and the hosts quickly took advantage of that fact with an incisive move down the left flank.

Defender Corey Whelan had no option but to try and get something on the wicked cross as he retreated, but his touch took the ball onto the inside of the post. It bounced back into the six-yard box and a cool finish into the waiting net followed.

United looked to respond and Edmondson broke through to chase a flicked pass from McCalmont. He was forced wide and his shot from a tight angle rose over the bar.

Youth team players Will Maddison and Romeo Park then linked up well, but the cross from the former was just too close to the keeper. He gathered it in before Edmondson could apply a touch.

Boro started to find their passes and an overlap opened space for a delivery. The cross was accurate but the header failed to match it, and a good chance bounced harmlessly behind.

Breeze had to leap high to tip a dipping 25-yard free kick over the target as the hosts kept knocking at the door, but it was a short-lived reprieve as red shirts burst clear in the next attack. Breeze could do nothing as a firm strike was arrowed into his bottom corner.

United's stopper was excellent as he got down smartly to save one-handed from close range as two strikers lined up in front of him, but Boro regrouped and a penalty was awarded as a glove clipped an ankle just inside the box. The resulting spot kick was drilled into the roof of the net.

The Cumbrians dusted themselves down and they enjoyed a good spell ahead of the break. Harris was first to test the keeper when he dropped a shoulder before thundering a low effort through legs. The keeper saw it late but dealt with it well.

The away team kept the pressure on and strong work from Edmondson saw him regain possession midway inside the opposition half. He wasted no time in getting it to McCalmont, who returned the favour with a lovely through ball. Edmondson popped it back inside, where Park shielded it for Butterworth to pounce. He was accurate with a powerful 18-yard drive that bulged the nets.

It was much tighter after the break and the Blues went close again when O'Brien jumped highest to meet a Butterworth corner. HIs header wasn't too far away.

But the away team was caught on the break twice in quick succession, and punished for it, as they sent men forward in an attempt to reduce the deficit.

United kept their heads up and midfielder Jayden Harris was frustrated as the keeper spilled an Edmondson cross at his feet. He got to the loose ball but his toe poke somehow struck a shin and bobbled past the upright.

Breeze did well at the other end to get down to make a one-on-one intervention with an outstretched hand. That sparked a flowing move with Edmondson, Robinson and Butterworth heavily involved. It came to an end when Edmondson's volley was blocked.

And there were loud appeals for a penalty when Swinburn pulled off his man before cutting it back. Charters was set to pounce, but he had his feet swept from under him. There was consternation as the final whistle blew with the referee showing no interest in the spot kick appeals.


Carlisle United - Breeze, Maddison (O'Brien 46), Ellis, Whelan, Robinson, Park (Swinburn 57), McCalmont, Hayden, Charters, Butterworth, Edmondson. Subs - Barry, Hetherington, Allan.

Goal - Butterworth (57)


Assistant manager Gav Skelton gave us his reaction shortly after full-time.

“We’ve no complaints about the result against what was a good team,” he said. “It gets 90 minutes into legs, which is important, and it’s good for some of the under-18 players to be involved as well.

“This is a fantastic facility and we have to thank the staff here for looking after us and inviting us across.

“They had some players with real pedigree in their side and we found it really difficult for the first 30 minutes or so.

“Our goal was decent, that was pleasing, and I felt it got us back into it. The second half was more of an even affair and I didn’t think we deserved to lose that period by two goals.

“We had a couple of decent performances from our players, along with a few that we will obviously look to improve on.”

“We asked them for the reaction we got in the second half because these lads aren’t daft, they know they were off it for too long in the first half,” he added. “They pressed us and popped the ball about, and that forced mistakes out of us, which were obviously punished.

“Whenever we got the ball we kept allowing possession to be turned over, and that becomes frustrating for everybody.

“With the goals conceded, you can be critical, but I do think these were soft to give away. They came from us losing it inside our own half and that’s something we talk about not allowing to happen.

“That was disappointing but, like I say, the goal was good to see. It came from us pressing, keeping them penned in, then when we got it we had a run of four or five passes which opened them up.

“It was finished off well by Dan Butterworth. We had some good opportunities in the second half but the difference was that they were clinical when they got their chances.

“They showed that bit of quality you need to score whereas we didn’t work the keeper enough.”

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