Honours Even At The Falkirk Stadium

A rare trip up to Falkirk provided Carlisle fifth's game prior to the League One campaign, with United fielding what looked like a stronger eleven than they would play in tomorrow's behind closed doors game at Middlesbrough's Academy training ground. The Blues again this evening employing the diamond formation and lining up at kick-off as follows :

Gary Madine - Craig Curran

Marc Bridge-Wilkinson

James Berrett - Tom Taiwo

Paul Thirlwell

Sean McDaid - Ian Harte - Kevin Long - Frankie Simek

Adam Collin

It was the home side though who were the first out of the traps in the fourth minute when a low cross in from the left by Jack Compton saw Blues trialist Long slice an attempted clearance across his own goal and out behind at the back-post. Carlisle then falling asleep at the corner when Mark Stewart played it short to Mark Millar for a right-footed 15-yard effort that was blocked by the legs of United goalkeeper Adam Collin.

It then took until the 22nd minute for the next chance to occur in an utterly tepid start to the half, with Bridge-Wilkinson, from a Madine lay-off, driving over the top from 22 yards out. Bang on the half-hour mark and Harte's pass over a static Falkirk back line found Madine one-on-one in the middle of the box, Madine dallied a little too long though and eventually laid the ball back to Curran for a 15-yard shot that was easily parried by Bairns stopper Robert Olejnik.

Five minutes later and the very impressive Kallum Higginbotham, a Falkirk summer signing from Rochdale, cut in at pace from the left before seeing his right-footed shot from just outside the box deflect away off Long. Higginbotham then doing the same from the right sixty seconds later, this time though on his left foot his 18-yard drive was pushed over the top by Collin, the Blues goalkeeper then catching the resultant Compton corner in.

After 39 minutes Bairns left-back Marc Twaddle and the ever willing Higginbotham worked a nice one-two into a dangerous part of the Carlisle box, Twaddle though, in trying to knock the ball across to an unmarked Stewart on the six-yard line, only succeeding in tapping it straight into the arms of Collin at his near-post.

Falkirk though missed an even better chance to open the scoring shortly afterwards when Carlisle were again napping on a short corner. Compton and Higginbotham combining as Compton's left-footed cross in found Collin getting completely under the ball, with Brian McLean for the Bairns somehow heading wide of an empty net from no more than four yards out at the back-stick.

During the interval the home side made two changes as Twaddle was replaced by French trialist Oumar Toure and Craig McLeish made way for Medhdi Khalis. French-Moroccan centre-half Khalis involved in proceedings in the 48th minute when he blocked a Madine right-footed shot from 20 yards out, following Curran's lay-off to the Carlisle striker.

Madine then turning provider three minutes later with a lovely touch to Taiwo, who then fired wide of Olejnik's near-post with his right boot from just inside the Bairns box. Six minutes later and it was the home side on the attack with a raking long diagonal ball from Compton to Jason Marr, right-back Marr quickly getting in past McDaid with a lovely first touch before drilling a rising left-footed 22-yarder inches over the top of Collin's crossbar.

The Bairns then made a triple change in personnel after 64 minutes as Olejnik, Stewart and Marr were replaced by Jamie Barclay, Lewis Bonar and Kieran Duffie respectively. The home side then taking the lead sixty seconds later as United lost concentration a little on a loose ball around the edge of their box, Higginbotham then finishing very neatly with a side-footed effort on his right boot which pinged into the net off the inside of Collin's left-hand post.

Midway through the second period and Falkirk's McLean made an awful error as he completely missed a clearance down the left-hand channel. That allowing Madine to race away and draw Barclay towards him before knocking the ball across for a completely unmarked Curran ten yards out. Curran then producing a gruesome miss as he sliced his shot right-footed and wide of the gaping open goal.

Compton then shot wide of Collin's near-post with his left boot for Falkirk from 22 yards out shortly afterwards, with the Cumbrians then making three changes in personnel during the break in play. Bridge-Wilkinson, Taiwo and Curran having a rest as Ben McKenna, trialist David Hutton and Andy Cook came on in their place.

With fifteen minutes left to go in the game Higginbotham made another good run down the right before sending in a cross to Bonar at the back-post. Bonar then knocking it along the United six-yard line, but there was no Falkirk man there to gamble and Harte was able to clear the Carlisle lines. The Bairns then making their final substitution of the game when James Bloom replaced Tam Scobbie.

Falkirk then attacking again after 86 minutes on the break as the Blues pushed forward for a late leveller when Millar sent a pass across to Higginbotham over on the right, Higginbotham taking possession in well before cracking in a swerving 20-yard right-footed drive that was taken in by Collin at his near-post.

It was Carlisle though who did finally find the net for their 89th minute equaliser when McKenna and Berrrett worked a short corner, with McKenna's cross in from the left seeing Cook thump a powerful 12-yard header into the back of the Bairns net with Barclay well beaten. United now, after tomorrow's game at Middlesbrough, facing another Scottish side this weekend, this time though the game is at Brunton Park against Hibs at 2pm on Sunday.

Falkirk line-up :

Robert Olejnik (Jamie Barclay 64), Jason Marr (Kieran Duffie 64), Marc Twaddle (Medhdi Khalis 46), Brian McLean, Tam Scobbie (James Bloom 76), Burton O'Brien (c), Kallum Higginbotham, Mark Millar, Mark Stewart (Lewis Bonar 64), Craig McLeish (Oumar Toure 46), Jack Compton.

Unused substitutes :

Blair Alston, Dale Fulton and Chris Mitchell.

United line-up :

Adam Collin, Frankie Simek, Sean McDaid, Kevin Long, Ian Harte, Marc Bridge-Wilkinson (Ben McKenna 69), Paul Thirwell (c), Tom Taiwo (David Hutton 69), Craig Curran (Andy Cook 69), Gary Madine, James Berrett.

Unused substitutes :

Mark Gillespie (GK) and Steven Swinglehurst.

Referee - Eddie Smith.

Attendance - 1,060 (102 away fans).

Pre-Season Results 2010-11
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