Despite leading twice, Carlisle United slipped to disastrous three two-loss to Tranmere Rovers at a rainswept Brunton Park. First-half goals from Josh Kayode and Nick Anderton were matched clinically by Kaiyne Woolery, with James Vaughan getting a double to steal the points for Rovers.
Chirs Beech made one change from United’s encouraging draw away to Salford City at the weekend. Gime Toure replaced Brennan Dickenson, hoping to add some flair into a one dimensional Carlisle attack seen in previous matches.
Keith Hill looked for a reaction to Rovers disappointing draw against Oldham Atheltic, making three changes, with Lee O’Connor, Manny Monthé and Kieron Morris dropping it. Sid Nelson, George Ray and Danny Lloyd were looking to impress Hill after returning to the first-team action.
United started off the game like a team possessed, with Josh Kayode scoring after only two minutes. Gime Toure’s fast feet drew in the Tranmere defenders, with the Frenchman cleverly laying the ball into the path of Anderton, whose pinpoint cross was fired into the roof of the net by Kayode.
The miserable weather conditions suited a slide tackle, and within the opening ten minutes, these came in abundance.
Joe Riley looked to capitalise on some robust play in the midfield, and he managed to get onto a loose ball, but his shot from distance did not trouble Scott Davies in the Rovers goal.
Kaiyne Woolery showed his class on the 12th minute to evade United scrambling defence due to sheer determination. However, a combination of Bennett and Hayden managed to crowd him out, with the ball trickling safely to Paul Farman.
Tranmere drew level in on the 20th minute due to a masterful piece of play by James Vaughan. Vaughan’s clever flick evaded the United defence sent Feeney through. Ther former Blackpool man showed good awareness to selflessly slide the ball to Woolery, who finished calmly through Farman’s legs.
Only 6 minutes later, United responded with both Toure and Anderton involved again. Toure picked up a role in the pocket at the front of Rovers’ defence and showed excellent feet before passing to Anderton, who hit a low raking shot into the bottom corner of Davies’ goal.
Tranmere took control after that, with the threatening quartet of Vaughan, Feeney, Woolery and Lloyd interchanging to cause chaos in the United defence. Lloyd, at one point, got himself free on the left and put in a scorching low cross, but fortunately for Carlisle, Vaughan was lurking at the edge of the box rather than the six-yard box.
Rovers’ second equaliser of the half was comical, with James Vaughan getting on the score sheet in an unorthodox way.
Vaughan picked up the ball deep to the left of the United box and put in a high cross, which Bennett chose to let drift over his head, but a possible lack of communication saw Farman fail to gather the cross. The ball surprisingly nestled in the back of United’s net, with the defence looking puzzled.
There was one more opportunity for the Cumbrians before the end of the half; Jon Mellish made a powerful run down the left and cutting the ball back to Joe Riley. Riley’s technique on the volley was magnificent, but unfortunately for United, the former Manchester United man’s shot was bravely blocked.
This signalled the end of an entertaining half, with the scores level at two goals each.
It was United who got themselves on the front foot early in the second half. Callum Guy peppered the Rovers box with a succession of deep corners, which led to Scott Davies showing fantastic athleticism to punch away from the danger.
Omari Patrick was moved to the left-hand side to see if he could get the better of Sid Nelson and then Lee O’Connor. On the 55th minute, he showed good pace and aggression to beat O’Connor and get a cross in, which Peter Clarke diverted narrowly wide.
United couldn’t have come much closer to a goal in the 57th minute. Another looping Guy corner found Kayode at the back post, whose powerful header was cleared off the line by the inspired James Vaughan.
As the rain continued to pour down, United started to look tired. Aaron Hayden’s short backpass was intercepted by Woolery, who hit an acute low drive, which Paul Farman did extremely well to divert wide.
The high winds were causing all sorts of mischief, and James Vaughan looked to take advantage, with a powerful shot flying just wide of Farman’s goal.
Tranmere’s experienced preditor would have the final say with a goal in the 87th minute.
Substitute David Nugent won a header against Rod MacDonald, which fell to Keiron Morris, who returned a through ball to Nugent. Nugent then chose to hit a low drive to the back post where Vaughan was lurking to slide in the winning goal.
United could not respond, condemning United to a three-game winless run.
Another disappointing loss for Chris Beech’s men as he will be left flummoxed to how his team did not at least hang on to a point. Carlisle United need to get their season back on track with a win against Oldham Atheltic on Saturday, or it may signal the end to the promotion push.
Tranmere Rovers look to be timing their good form under Keith Hill to perfection, inspired by James Vaughan’s attacking nous. They travel to Leyton Orient on Saturday, looking to move into the top three.
Here is some reaction from both fanbases after that exciting clash:
Very unlucky tonight! Tranmere have alot of league 1 standard players and experience and probably just about edged it tonight but the blues are improving every game. Every team has a bad run better to do it now then the end of the season #uptheblues
— Tom Walton (@Tomw0892) February 23, 2021
Awful think we have been found out the lump it up the top just isn’t working for us any more Hayden and Guy both off the pace up top look hopeless. Think we are lacking leadership. Playing like that lucky to be in the playoffs come the end of the season
— Baz Beattie (@bazovcarlisle) February 23, 2021
Hard fought win tonight. This squad has a lot of character, just need to keep the belief that we can get into the top 3. Good subs tonight as well.
— Alan_Tranmere Fan (@Al_TranmereFan) February 23, 2021
Fantastic result! Showed great character to win after being behind twice. Battled hard to defend many corners in that second half. Vaughan & Woolery keep scoring and a brilliant contribution from Nugent for the winner. #SWA #TRFC
— Mark W (@MJW_1) February 23, 2021