VENUE: Allum Sports Centre, Hull, 11.30am kick off.
A 7am start saw the Blues travel 3 hours to Hull to take on fellow National League newcomers East Riding in the Championship North Division in an 11.30am kick off. Like Carlisle, East Riding had made a promising start to the season with an opening day victory over Leeds. It was expected to be a close encounter and it proved to be the case.
The game started with Carlisle adopting a high press which on the small court was highly effective limiting East Riding to long throws from the GK and clearances from their own third up to their big pivot. Carlisle probed the East Riding defence with confidence as they put together some excellent paired movements into the channels but failed to convert many of these into shooting opportunities with the small court, good organisation and size of the East Riding team playing a factor in smothering the blue attacks. East Ridings game plan was working well as they sat in the half court defence and looked to limit Carlisle’s chances and occasionally break on the counter and exploit any set play situations.
The goals eventually came for Carlisle via the impressive Rhy Graham who combined well with Jack Senior to exploit the overload on a rare counter attack. A superb team move resulting in a back post tap in for Jack Senior who has also shown impressive form in recent games. East Riding got a goal of their own with a direct strike at goal from a free kick which flew in unopposed. A Carlisle penalty was converted by Rhys Graham after he had combined well with debutant Josh Jones who had shown an excellent piece of skill to draw a foul in the penalty area. Then two individual goals from Ryan Errington saw the blues take a 4-1 lead and with 5 minutes to go until half time it was a scoreline that reflected fairly the positivity Carlisle had shown in possession. However East Riding forced themselves back into the game as they pulled one back when their player who looked to be running out of space let fly from a tight angle which left goalkeeper Codd with little chance. Then came a two minute period which set the nervy tone for the rest of the game. East Riding were on 5 fouls and when John Heyes was taken down after a trade mark scissors step over the pressure was on to convert from the 10m mark. However it was hit straight at the East Riding keeper and almost immediately East Riding launched a counter attack forcing captain Tom Lucock into committing a professional foul to halt the threat. The resulting shot from the free kick flew in the bottom corner breathing life into the game for East Riding right on the stroke of half time. 4-3 Carlisle.
The first 10 minutes of the second half started much the same as the first with Carlisle creating several chances from excellent build up play. Tom Lucock looked almost certain to increase his season tally to 10 tapping in a superb Carlisle move but the ball flew wide when it looked easier to miss. East Riding sensed this was going to be their day as the Carlisle frustration grew. From a commanding position it felt like the momentum of the game had swung with some unusual refereeing decisions and inability to kill the game off adding to the torment. It was East Riding who looked to equalise and it felt like this was self inflicted after being in such a commanding position. It was no surprise when East Riding scored again from a dead ball situation. It was proving difficult for Carlisle to alter the course of the game as they continued to rotate with purpose and attempt to open up gaps in the East Riding defence. East Riding sensed a chance to take control and made excellent use of their size dominance playing into the big men who looked to get shots off on the half turn as often as possible. But with 4 minutes left it was Heyes who finished off a nice Carlisle move to make the score 5-4. Again though East Riding struck back with a set play goal something which proved to be Carlisle’s achilles heel throughout the day conceding 4 and not scoring from any of their own. Finally, with 60 seconds left on the clock, the moment to decide the game arrived. It was Carlisle who were on 5 fouls this time and as the big East Riding pivot drew the foul it felt inevitable that they would convert form the 10m mark and take home the points. They did just that and sealed a 6-5 victory.
A first defeat of the season for the blues and it was a tough one to take for head coach Al Tindall.
‘Credit must go to East Riding for taking their chances today and for executing their game plan well. Its a tough defeat to take because for me it didn’t feel like a game we were going to lose at any point during the match. I couldn’t see them scoring from open play and we were dominating the ball and creating plenty. They had a very direct game plan, no doubt based around taking full advantage of the small court and the big physical players in their squad so it made for a real spectacle watching the two contrasting styles. They sat in half court for the whole game pretty much and it was pleasing that we didn’t concede on the counter which is always the risk playing a team defending on the half court. 4 of their goals came from set plays which are always tough to defend against particularly given we haven’t yet worked on that in our training, its something we will address so a great lesson learnt. Our possession resulted in a lot of goalscoring opportunities which at this stage of the team’s development is what we want to see. The next step is making sure we are more clinical and make better decisions in some of the overload situations to kill games off. There is lots for the players and myself to learn from this one. We look forward now to a few weeks of training to push our learning on before a quick succession of league and cup matches in the New Year where we can put this result right.’
MOM Rhys Graham – a constant threat, superb decision making in attack and excellent application of pressure in defence often cutting out the forward pass.