Carlisle United looked to be back to their free-flowing, intense best, as they blew away a lacklustre Crawley Town side. First-half strikes from Joe Riley and Omari Patrick put the game to bed before half time, as United strolled to victory without continuing their high-intensity play in the second half.
Chris Beech’s side were in desperate need of a win, having gone four games without a positive result. Beech made two changes from his sides two-one loss against Cambridge on Saturday, with Lewis Alessandra and Jack Armer coming in for Nick Anderton and Dean Furman.
John Yems made three changes from his sides disconsolate display at the weekend, where they lost three-one at home to Port Vale. Jordan Maguire-Drew, James Tilley and David Sesay dropped out, with Josh Wright, Nick Tsaroulla and Tarryn Allarakhia replacing them in the starting line-up.
The hosts made the brighter start, with Joe Riley’s long throw only cleared as far as Jack Armer. Carlisle’s Scottish youth international went for the half volley, but it deflected off Rod McDonald’s head and out for a goal kick.
Riley’s long throws were causing Crawley problems defensively. This time his throw was cleared back out to him, but his cross back into the danger area was volleyed over the bar by McDonald.
On the 16th minute, the imposing Jon Mellish drove forwards and found Omari Patrick, who cut across the midfield. United’s electric winger played in the marauding Armer, but he could not get the correct connection on his shot.
United took the lead in the 17th minute. Joe Riley, who was excellent on the night, decided to take a shot from the edge of the box. Unfortunately for Glenn Morris, the strike hit a divot on the Brunton Park pitch leaving the stopper helpless as the ball was diverted over his dive.
By the 22nd minute, the hosts were dominating. Some intricate interplay on the edge of the box led to Alessandra having a shot on the edge of the box, which was saved confidently by Morris.
United were relentless in their play. This attack saw Riley laid a pass off to Callum Guy, but the former Blackpool man shot was straight at the Crawley stopper.
George Tanner started to show the quality he displayed before his injury in the 24th-minute. The former Manchester United academy man sent in a beautiful cross, but Offrande Zanzala could only send his diving header wide.
The Cumbrians doubled their lead in the 33rd minute.
Omari Patrick won a physical battle with the Crawley left-back and drove inside. The former Bradford City forward caressed the ball, with the inside of his right foot over Morris from around 25 yards out.
United won a free kick in the 35th minute. However, Callum Guy’s free-kick from 30 yards dipped just over Morris’ bar.
Carlisle’s intensity started to drop, with Guys free-kick the last meaningful chance of the first half for either side.
Half Time Carlisle United United Two-Nil Crawley Town
Although Crawley looked to have improved their so far desperate performance, United still looked the better team. Alessandra’s clever pass sent Mellish to the byline, who pulled his cross back to Zanzala, but the Congolese striker headed straight at Morris.
The Red Devils looked most threatening at set-pieces through Jack Powell. In the 53rd minute, the former Milwall midfielder viciously whipped his free-kick over Paul Farman’s crossbar.
United should’ve been three goals in front on the 64th minute. Joe Riley’s accurate cross was headed goalwards by Zanzala, which Morris saved unconvincingly.
Zanzala got his toe to the rebound, but Glenn Morris denied him with an incredible save by flicking his leg out to divert the ball away from the goal.
Zanzala, who was a menace throughout, drove across the midfield and worked the ball to Tanner. He then exchanged passes with Tanner, who laid off Riley, whose powerful drive was saved by Morris.
One of the stand-out performers was the Cyprus youth international, Nick Tsaroulla. The talented left-back went on a mazy run inside the Carlisle half, but he could only fizz his shot over the bar.
Callum Guy was again on free-kick duty for the Cumbrians. Despite being in a similar position to the first half set-piece, the shot lacked the finesse to get under the Crawley Town crossbar.
Beech brought on subs such as Cedwyn Scott and Ethan Walker late on in the second half, but there was not enough time to add to the scoreline.
Full Time: Carlisle United Two-Nil Crawley Town
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