Carlisle City 4-0 AFC Liverpool | Match Report

Strange game that. Undoubtedly the better side won on the day. It’s important to say that from the off, but also to say that the margin tells something of a false story and while Carlisle City deserve no less credit because of that, The Reds must reflect on this afternoon, pick themselves up and move on quickly.

AFC Liverpool came flying out the blocks and created a chance more or less from the kick off. A cracking long diagonal ball from Bradley Owens was controlled well by Jay McGrane who took a touch and forced a corner. A good delivery was well cleared but The Reds built again and McGrane was almost in again after a Callum Schorah cross deep to the back post but McGrane was just unable to convert.

A good opening spell saw AFC Liverpool seemingly in control but it was Carlisle who took the lead after just 4 minutes against the run of play. Failure to deal with a speculative ball down the right hand channel led to a cross in the box, further indecision in the AFC back line allowed Rob McCartney a clear cut chance and the striker claimed his first goal.

The Reds continued to play much as they had before conceding as they searched for a response. They remained busy, moved the ball quickly and the forward line stretched the play well and a clever run and cross from Jay McGrane almost gave AFC a leveller but Anthony Lyons powerful header was well saved by the imposing Stephen Townsley.

Unfortunately for AFC Liverpool that’s about as good as it would get as winger David Renyard was allowed to run 30 yards directly into the box, draw a foul from keeper Joao Mendes and win a penalty for the home side. No doubt as to the taker and no doubt on the finish as Rob McCartney blasted home to double his tally and Carlisle’s lead.

With a two goal cushion, Carlisle were content to just contain AFC Liverpool for the remainder of the first half and limit their attacks to direct counters. It was in this period also that luck went against The Reds somewhat as a handball by centre half Thomas Short inside the area was missed. The defender lost the flight of the ball, flailed his arm and handled inside the box but the officials judged it to be outside the area and not to have prevented an obvious goal-scoring opportunity, so just a free kick and yellow card were given.

The subsequent Callum Schorah free kick was struck over the bar and in the next 5 minutes the home side had another short spell of pressure and again punished slack defending. With nobody taking defensive responsibility, McCartney was given his third sight of goal and finished well for his hat trick.

Without doubt The Reds had played worse halves of football than that this season but the difference was they had yet to face a side as equipped to punish each and every mistake. So it was then they trailed 3-0 at the break and gave themselves a mountain to climb in the second half.

After the restart Carlisle dropped back into contain mode. The Reds were just unable to break through the lines effectively, being blocked off as they moved into the final third and with Callum Schorah and Jay McGrane marshalled extremely well. AFC Liverpool suffered another setback after talismanic centre back Jon Croasdale had to be replaced following another heavy challenge.

Carlisle took full advantage of the disruption in The Reds back line as midfielder Sonny Parr dropped between the centre halves, chewed the ball slightly and was pounced on by Rob McCartney. McCartney, absolutely flying after his first half treble, took the ball off Parr’s toes, ran through on goal and slotted beyond Mendes to make it four.

While AFC Liverpool continued to work hard despite the score line, they toiled in the final third, nothing fell for them and it was all too comfortable for the Carlisle defence to deal with in the end and the league leaders secured their position at the top of the pile.

That was that then, 7 in a row didn’t become 8, this run was at an end. It did become 7 though, remember that today and remember the way this side have performed across this run and know that it’s capable of another one like it. It’s for these lads now to take that one on the chin, to dust themselves off and put this one behind them, write it off almost because of the context of result. It’s not every week a striker will convert at that rate – four goals from four shots is incredible at all levels but certainly extraordinary in this league. Whether that can be accounted for or not though, it’s vital these lads recognise each of their roles in Rob McCartney’s memorable afternoon and learn from it.

To Thursday night then, to St Helens Town and the chance to put things right and the opportunity to kick off another winning run.

Up The Winning Run Reds.

Lineup vs Carlisle City

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