Carlisle United played out an entertaining one all draw with Salford City at the Peninsula Stadium, which may be a vital point in the long term. George Tanner’s first-half volley against his former club was cancelled out by James Wilson’s 78th-minute equaliser and his seventh goal of the season.
Richie Wellens’ Salford were unchanged from their narrow one-nil victory at home to Barrow midweek. Ian Henderson continued to lead the line, with the experienced pairing of Jason Lowe and Paul Coutts anchoring in midfield.
Chris Beech made two changes from United’s dismal one-nil loss away to Harrogate Town during the week. Omari Patrick and Jon Mellish returned, with Lewis Alessandra and Ethan Walker dropping out.
United started the first half in a much quicker fashion. Callum Guy exchanged passes with Josh Kayode before sending an arching cross, which Rhys Bennett headed over the bar.
Salford started to make their mark on the game, and in the fourth minute, they thought they’d taken the lead through Paul Coutts. A teasing ball from the left-hand side dropped to Coutts, but his well-placed strike was chalked off as there had been a melee in the box, which resulted in a free-kick given Carlisle’s way.
Despite Salford starting to dominate possession, United took the lead through the ever-reliable George Tanner. Nick Anderton’s cross was headed away from danger, but Tanner responded with a low strike into the Salford goal, a very sweet moment for a man who had not been deemed good enough for the Ammies last season.
Ian Henderson was constantly drifting into clever pockets of space for Salford and should’ve scored on the 24th minute. He met a dangerous Ibou Touray cross but could only head the ball at Farman, who saved at point-blank range.
Salford had large spells in possession but did not seem able to be effective in the final third, with the pivotal pass often letting them down.
Towards the end of the second half, there was tension brewing between United’s central defender, Aaron Hayden and Ian Henderson. Hayden had previously kicked the ball out of Henderson’s hand, and the pair were caught wrestling each other only a minute later; they continued to argue as they walked down the tunnel.
Carlisle United led Salford City at half time by a goal to nil.
Carlisle United came out from the break much fresher after having their concentration tested to the limit in the first half.
George Tanner saw his volley drift just wide after Jason Lowe sliced his clearance, which could’ve caused more problems as the ball spun viciously towards the Ammies goal.
United came close again through Aaron Hayden. A deep Dickenson corner found the colossus United defender, whose bullet head was parried by Hladky, but there was no Carlisle player to score on the rebound.
Salford got themselves back into the ascendancy as Jason Lowe was sent through on goal after some neat play by Henderson. Lowe was the unlikely runner, and Paul Farman was quick off his line to prevent an equaliser.
Ashely Hunter was a menace throughout, in an unorthodox wingback position, and sent in a wicked cross, which went across the face of the goal, giving United some light relief.
Carlisle’s opportunities were extremely limited in the second half, but Nick Anderton looked to extend United’s lead with a venomous shot just over the bar.
Some nice interplay from Salford saw Ibou Touray get down the right-wing, who swung another perfect cross into the box. Henderson was free in the area, but his header was straight in Paul Farman’s direction.
United looked to be creative from a free-kick on the 57th minute as both Dickenson and Riley lined it up. Riley was the man to shoot from Guy’s layoff, but his shot drifted just wide of the target.
Salford were increasingly on top, and it seemed like a goal was looming on the horizon. They came close again when Ashley hunter slid a neat ball into Robbie Gotts, but the on-loan Leeds United man could not find the range to bend the ball into the corner of the goal.
The Ammies were finally level on the 78th minute thanks to substitute James Wilson. Henderson got free down the right and hit a low cross to Brandon Thomas-Asante, who saw his effort blocked by Farman, but the inspired United stopper could not deny Wilson’s neat finish.
City came close to winning the game at the end when Wilson’s cross found Hunter at the back post. He cushioned a cute header to Henderson, who could only volley wide of Farman’s goal.
The teams finished level, despite Salford City’s dominance through the game. The Ammies recorded 67% of the possession and having 12 shots, with four on target.
Carlisle United will be relieved to have come out with a point in a game, which they were under extreme pressure from a talented Salford City team. Beech will be delighted with another competitive fixture getting United back on the road to recovery after a long break due to COVID and poor weather conditions.
United face Tranmere Rovers on Tuesday night, hoping to return to winning ways.
Richie Wellens will be extremely disappointed that Salford City did not come out with all three points. His side may rue their missed chances as three points could be vital towards their promotion push.
The Ammies travel to high fliers Morecambe on Tuesday night, who triumphed over Barrow in the Morecambe Bay derby today.
Here is some post-match reaction from Carlisle United Fans:
Very disappointing not to get the win, but a point away against Salford isn’t awful. Credit to Farman today, great saves.
— Ben Smith (@BenSmit86183755) February 20, 2021
Well done lads, that’s the toughest game we’ll play this season.
— XxBennyGlennyXx (@xx_glenny) February 20, 2021