United Reserves 1-1 Burnley Reserves

With the youth team having a big fixture in the league at home to Wigan tomorrow lunchtime it was a funny mix of players that took to the field this evening for the Blues in their penultimate second-string game of the season. Three of those in the starting eleven being trialists in the shape of striker Chris Fagan, defender Lewis Smith and midfielder Gavin Rothery.

18-year old Fagan, born in Dublin, is a product of the infamous Home Farm club in the Republic of Ireland and has been with Manchester United for three years, although he will be released when his contract ends this summer. Smith, also 18, and also going by the name Lewis Walker, has had a somewhat chequered personal life recently in his YTS years at Middlesbrough and he will be hoping to resurrect his football career next season.

Lastly comes 20-year old combative central midfielder Gavin Rothery, the former England Under-19 player once being regarded as the next David Batty at Leeds United before being recently released by new boss Gary McAllister. So, with those three trialists in the side the Carlisle starting eleven at kick-off lined up as follows :

Danny Carlton - Chris Fagan

Gavin Rothery - Paul Thirlwell - Luke Joyce - Kevin Gall

Zigor Aranalde - Darren Campion - Lewis Smith - Jonny Blake

Chris Howarth

The opening exchanges were pretty poor fare to be honest with the best action being watching the water drain away from the centre-circle area after that part of the pitch had been watered before the kick-off. The first thing of any note coming in the 12th minute when Zigor Aranalde was somewhat harshly booked for pulling back Dean Stott's shirt.

Two minutes later Aranalde was involved again as his lovely ball over the top found Danny Carlton free down the left-hand channel, Carlton though only firing a left-footed effort from 15 yards well over the angle of near-post and bar. James Craggs then hitting an almost identical effort for Burnley just sixty seconds later as he looked for a penalty against Jonny Blake once his shot had gone over.

United though made it 1-0 with 17 minutes gone after Gavin Rothery's nice pass had set up Aranalde to cross the ball low just behind Chris Fagan 15 yards out, Fagan seeing his right-footed shot on the turn from there deflected behind. Luke Joyce then swung the corner in and it was Carlton who headed it goalwards from the penalty spot, the effort wasn't going in though until Fagan nipped in first to knock the ball home from close range.

Five minutes later another Joyce corner saw Rothery head wide from ten yards out, although bizarrely referee Peter Quinn awarded another flag-kick, which came to nothing. Just after the half-hour mark Joyce's pass down the right saw Clarets keeper Stef Ritchie get to the ball just before Carlton. Possession looped into the air from his clearance though, and, after a quick one-two between Rothery and Carlton, Rothery's 25-yard right-footed half-volley sliced away wide of the near-post.

Peter Quinn was again producing some interesting officiating on 38 minutes after Kevin Gall had been fouled by Chris Lynch, the referee then blowing the whistle to book Lynch with Fagan running clear on goal down the middle of the pitch. Joyce finally putting the free-kick in from 40 yards out which saw Carlton's header from close range fly straight into the gloves of Ritchie.

Two minutes later Aranalde's ball up found Fagan bundling his way through the Clarets back-line, Ritchie doing well to come out quickly to block away Fagan's eight-yard right-footed effort though. Shortly afterwards Carlton shot wide on his weaker boot from just outside the box, then he sent a volley wide, once more on his left foot, from 12 yards out after Fagan's shot had been blocked straight up into the air.

The visitors though had the last word in the half when they equalised two minutes before the interval. Joyce's dire pass across the back of the Carlisle defence seeing Rob Turner pick up on the loose ball and race goalwards, only to be stopped in his tracks when Chris Howarth made an excellent block with his body on the edge of the penalty area. Possession rolled straight to Alex MacDonald though and he was left with the relatively simple task of thumping the ball right-footed into an empty net off the underside of the United bar.

Second-half action started in the 49th minute when Fagan's ball to Carlton was just intercepted by Ritchie, the Burnley keeper spilled the ball though, but Gall's weak right-footed shot from the edge of the box was easily cleared away from danger by Adam Kay. Lynch this time being the Burnley man in the right place at the right time to hack away Joyce's 12-yard right-footed half-volley just sixty seconds later.

Stephen Hindmarch
The game went through a busier spell now as both sides finally managed to keep hold of possession for a while, and moments afterwards Turner had a left-footer from 18 yards out easily held by Howarth. The near-side linesman, who bore a remarkable resemblance to Buster Bloodvessel, limping out of the action in the 52nd minute with a pulled hamstring.

The new assistant referee was busy after 64 minutes when both sides made a change, Dominic Knowles coming on first for MacDonald for the Clarets. With the lack of available right-backs at Carlisle it was Blake who had drawn the short straw after being required to play tonight and then tomorrow lunchtime. Stephen Hindmarch being his replacement to signal a reshuffle that saw Joyce go to right-back, Rothery into central midfield and Hindmarch take up a role on the left-wing.

Rothery, who was easily the most impressive of the three trialists, hitting in a 20-yard right-footed half-volley on 70 minutes which was finally collected by a diving Ritchie at the second attempt. The next shot coming Burnley's way for Turner three minutes on when he sent a half-volley from distance on his left foot across goal and wide of Howarth's far-post.

The Clarets making another change in the 75th minute when Nik Kudiersky left the field with what looked like a bad back to be replaced by Matt Lomas. Knowles couldn't have gone any closer to giving Burnley the lead moments later when, after a pass through by Turner, he rounded Howarth just inside the Carlisle box only to hit a tame right-footed effort from close range straight at Darren Campion stationed on the United goal-line.

With 79 minutes gone a foul by Lynch on Carlton on the left-wing level with the penalty area saw Chris Anderson head Aranalde's set-piece out straight to Campion, the Blues centre-half then laying the ball off to Gall, only for Gall to slice his right-footed 25-yarder well wide of the far-post. Fagan, five minutes later making a good run down the middle before firing a right-footed drive from the edge of the Burnley box straight at Ritchie.

Aranalde whipped a dangerous cross in from the left on 85 minutes which Carlton completely missed as he looked to half-volley it goalwards. Gall though picking up on the loose ball at the back-post 15 yards out only to fire his right-footed effort straight at Ritchie. The last chance for a winner coming three minutes into injury time when Hindmarch made a great jinking run in from the left and eventually saw his 22-yard right-footer held by a diving Ritchie.

So, only one game left to go now in a second-string season that has been full of postponements and rearranged fixtures. Carlisle's final game coming next Monday afternoon when they face Bury at Brunton Park in a 2pm kick-off. Blake, Hindmarch and the young lads on the bench though are back at it tomorrow lunchtime when they face Wigan in a vital youth team league fixture on the Sheepmount in a 12noon start.

United line-up :

Chris Howarth, Jonny Blake (Stephen Hindmarch 64), Zigor Aranalde, Darren Campion, Lewis Smith, Luke Joyce, Paul Thirlwell (c), Kevin Gall, Danny Carlton, Chris Fagan, Gavin Rothery.

Unused substitutes :

Grant Carson (GK), Matt Duffy, Andy Cook and John Seaton.

Burnley line-up :

Stef Ritchie, Dean Stott, Thomas Bradley, Chris Anderson, Nik Kudiersky (Matt Lomas 75), Chris Lynch, Lewis Craig, Adam Kay (c), Rob Turner, Alex MacDonald (Dominic Knowles 64), James Craggs.

Unused substitutes :

Dan MacDonald (GK), Dil Chaggar and Oliver Devanney.

Referee - Peter Quinn (Middlesbrough).

Results in the division this week, all Wednesday at 7pm unless stated :

Bury 2-2 Chester (Mon, 2pm)
Wrexham 0-3 Manchester City (Mon, 7pm)

Accrington Stanley 0-1 Tranmere
Blackpool 1-2 Morecambe
Bury 2-0 Preston North End
Carlisle United 1-1 Burnley
Chester 1-7 Rochdale (2pm)
Manchester City 6-3 Wrexham

Pontin's Holiday League Cup Final :

Morecambe 1-1 West Bromwich Albion (Mon, 7.30pm), Morecambe won 4-3 on penalties, no extra-time

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