Ryan Bowman and French trialiast Yannick Salem score the Carlisle goals in the first-half

Not in the league, but in the League Cup if that makes sense is United's situation this season. The structure of the optional to enter League Cup being three groups of four teams playing each other in their own table just once. The group winners and best placed runner-up then going on to take part in the semi-finals and then eventual final. The Blues playing their first match in the competition today and lining up in a diamond formation at kick-off as follows :


Ryan Bowman - Yannick Salem

Marc Bridge-Wilkinson

Matty Robson - Kevan Hurst

Josh Todd

Steven Swinglehurst - Peter Murphy - Graham Kavanagh - Tony Kane

Mark Gillespie



On a sunny afternoon that brought a few more punters into the main stand than normal, Carlisle had the first shot of the game on four minutes when Hurst fired a right-footed 20-yard drive over the angle of Preston's far-post and crossbar. Robson then four minutes later, following a Neal Trotman foul on Salem 25 yards out, pulling the free-kick poorly left-footed well wide of the North End back-stick.

The Lilywhites then had their opening opportunity after 11 minutes when impressive teenage right-back, and skipper, Conor McLaughlin stuck a cross in from his flank which Geoge Miller could only nod wide of the Blues far-post from the middle of the box. North End's Seanan Clucas then five minutes later sending in a powerful 30-yard right-footed strike which Cumbrians keeper Mark Gillespie caught at the second attempt.

Carlisle fought back though and took the lead with 20 minutes on the clock when Bowman raced away down the right-hand channel before, just on entering the Preston penalty area, firing a right-footed drive across goal which pinged into the net off the base of the woodwork. Bowman then six minutes later, on the back of a long diagonal ball up from Kane, taking the ball in on his chest 18 yards out on the left before lobbing a shot narrowly over the near-post angle.

After a quiet spell in the game the visitors got themselves into trouble when Bailey Wright tried to shepherd a loose ball back to his goalkeeper Andres Arestidou. Bowman then just managing to nick a leg between the two on the edge of the box, with his toe-poked effort skipping narrowly wide of the far-post. Carlisle trialist Salem then having a 20-yard right-footed shot blocked by Wright as the United man looked to make something out of a Hurst pass.

It was then 2-0 to the Cumbrians five minutes before the break when Salem picked up a ball down the right-hand channel from Kane, the Frenchman then running into the box unopposed before sliding a 15-yard right-footed effort under the body of the diving Arestidou. Kane then in the last action of the half on 42 minutes, following a Trotman foul on Swinglehurst 25 yards out, firing a powerful shot with his right boot straight at Arestidou after Kavanagh had touched the free-kick off to him.



The visitors made two changes during the interval as left-back Michael McLellan and midfielder Reece James replaced Dominic Collins and Clucas respectively. Sixty seconds in and Hurst thumped a right-footed 22-yarder over the angle of far-post and bar, then after 55 minutes, following a nice pass from Swinglehurst, Bowman could perhaps have taken a steadying touch before hitting his left-footed shot from the middle of the box straight at Arestidou.

Shortly afterwards and Neil Dougan was booked, a rare occurance at reserve team level, for a bad challenge on Kane which left the United skipper limping for a good while after treatment from physio Geoff Haugh. The Blues then making their first change in personnel two minutes later when one youth team defender replaced another at left-back as Matt Osmond came on for Swinglehurst.

Bang on the hour-mark and a slightly out of sorts Robson struck a long range left-footed effort over the top before sixty seconds later some good work by Bowman on the right-hand by-line eventually saw Kane have a shot from just inside the box well blocked by Doyle Middleton. Just before the midway point in the half North End making their final substitution as Devine came on for Trotman at centre-half.

With 67 minutes on the clock Carlisle went close to extending their lead when, after a Bridge-Wilkinson corner, a loose aerial ball was headed goalwards by Murphy from 12 yards out with Arestidou just managing to hang onto it under his crossbar. Preston then responding two minutes later as Wright headed over from the middle of the box on the end of a cross in from the right by Darel Russell.



Hurst again didn't have his shooting boots on in the 73rd minute when, from a Bridge-Wilkinson pass, he shot right-footed but well wide of the far-post from 25 yards out. Sixty seconds on Osmond making a great run down the left before laying the ball across to Bowman, with the United striker then a little unlucky to see his close range shot on the turn ricochet off Devine then back off himself on its way out for a goal-kick.

Carlisle then made a double change with 15 minutes to go as two first-year YTS youth teamers entered the fray, Lance McGlen coming on for Kavanagh at centre-half and Mark Beck replacing Salem upfront. 27-year old Salem not showing a vast amount, and certainly going to ground too easily in the first-half, although he did of course get himself on the scoresheet.

McGlen then gave away a free-kick on 79 minutes after he fouled Jamie Douglas 25 yards out in a central area. Douglas, who struggled to get any change out of the Blues defence for the majority of the game, then taking the set-piece himself only to hit a terribly weak left-footed effort which hardly had the pace to get past an underworked Gillespie's left-hand post.

Four minutes later and Beck's through pass to Bowman was just hacked away by a lunging Arestidou inches outside his own 'D', Beck then knocking the ball back towards goal with his left foot from 30 yards out, Wright however being well placed to head the shot away from danger. Carlisle again looking for a third goal two minutes later but Bridge-Wilkinson's right-footed curler from the left-angle of the box, on the back of Robson's lay-off, flew over the top and into an empty Warwick Road End.

That effort to make it 3-0 proving elusive by inches with the final chance of the game in the 86th minute when Beck was fouled by McLellan just to the right of the Preston 'D'. Murphy then from there smashing the free-kick across goal left-footed, with it looking it in all the way, Arestidou seemingly agreeing as he stood rooted to the spot as the ball somehow flashed past his right-hand post.



United line-up :

Mark Gillespie, Tony Kane (c), Steven Swinglehurst (Matt Osmond 58), Graham Kavanagh (Lance McGlen 75), Peter Murphy, Josh Todd, Marc Bridge-Wilkinson, Kevan Hurst, Ryan Bowman, Yannick Salem (Mark Beck 75), Matty Robson.

Unused substitutes :

Jon Ball (GK) and Phil Towler.


Preston line-up :

Andres Arestidou, Conor McLaughlin (c), Dominic Collins (Reece James 46), Seanan Clucas (Michael McLellan 46), Neal Trotman (Daniel Devine 66), Bailey Wright, Doyle Middleton, Darel Russell, Jamie Douglas, George Miller, Neil Dougan.

Unused substitutes :

Dominic Comrie and Matt Dudley.



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