With Dan Kirkup now back from his four-month loan spell in the Scottish First Division with Clyde the Blues lined up as follows :
Danny Carlton - Kevin Gall
Shaun Vipond - Luke Joyce - Roy Sandeman - Neale McDermott
Darren Campion - Dan Wordsworth - Dan Kirkup - Paul Arnison
With the strong wind at their backs in the first-half Carlisle kicked off towards the Waterworks End and went 1-0 up with their first attack. A triangle of passes on the edge of the box between Gall, Joyce and Carlton saw Carlton break into the Wrexham penalty area and fire a left-footed drive from 15 yards out low into the bottom corner beyond the despairing dive of visitors goalkeeper Michael Jones.
After ten minutes the Cumbrians wasted a great chance to double their lead when Joyce's deflected 20-yard shot hit the base of Wrexham's near-post, Carlton somehow managing to miss the resultant open goal from six yards out as he side-footed the ball onto the face of the crossbar. Three minutes later Sandeman, who saw little of the ball in his central midfield role, tried his luck from range but his right-footed drive went well over the top.
With Kirkup still off the pitch though United's defence was creaking all over the place and Wrexham took advantage of that with two quick goals in three minutes either side of the 16 minute mark. The first coming after McDermott and Arnison had left the ball for each other, Matty Done picking up on possession to play in Mike Carvill, the young visitors striker then firing powerfully home into the top right-hand corner of the Carlisle net from 15 yards out.
Still reeling from that goal United shipped a second shortly afterwards following Howarth pushing behind Carvill's 12-yard right-footed effort for a corner at his near-post. Josh Johnson put the flag-kick in and Lee Jones was left completely unmarked to head goalwards 12 yards out at the back-post, the ball seemingly taking a nick off the legs of Wrexham's Jamie Reed on it's way over the line.
Kirkup then reappearing down the tunnel and coming back onto the field, presumably wondering where it all had gone wrong in his time off the pitch. In the 23rd minute, with Carlisle now looking for their own equaliser, Carlton made a strong run across the edge of the visitors box as he laid the ball into the path of Vipond on the left-angle of the area. Vipond then trying a right-footed curler across goal from there which went well wide of Wrexham's far-post.
Kirkup was still feeling a bit groggy after his earlier clash of heads so he was replaced by Matt Duffy after 29 minutes with fears of concussion in mind, Campion and Wordsworth both moving to the right one spot as Duffy slotted into Campion's left-back role. Kirkup soon turned up in the Director's box though so hopefully his bang to the head can't have been too concerning.
In the 36th minute some good set-up play by Wrexham's Carvill on the right-hand by-line saw Howarth forced into an excellent reaction save from Reed's right-footed ten-yard strike, an off-balance Reed then blazing the rebound over the top with his weaker left foot. The last chance of the half also came the way of the visitors when Howarth ran down Reed's completely mistimed header from ten yards out beyond his far-post following a cross in from the left by Done.
After a quiet opening to the second-half the game burst into life in the 49th minute when Gall made the score 2-2. The ex-Yeovil man thumping in a speculative 35-yard right-footed effort which a flat-footed Michael Jones seemed to misread the flight of as it zoomed only slightly over him and into the top right-hand corner of the goal.
Three minutes later Vipond, playing out of position on the left flank, set Gall up for another shot at the near-post, this time though he sliced his left-footed drive wide of the target. Two minutes later Campion, eight yards out, heading a McDermott corner in straight into the arms of Wrexham's Michael Jones on the bounce.
In a good spell of pressure for Carlisle McDermott's corner in the 56th minute was only cleared straight to Vipond on the edge of the box, Vipond seeing his right-footed drive from there well held by Michael Jones at his far-post. Vipond was bang on target five minutes later though when Arnison's long diagonal punt up into the box from the right saw the Wrexham defenders all stand looking at each other to leave Vipond to knock the loose ball home from just six yards out to give the Cumbrians the lead once more.
The game went through a bit of a dull midfield stalemate in the windy conditions now until the 73rd minute when Andy Fleming picked up on a loose ball on the edge of the Carlisle box only to fire a right-footed half-volley over the top of Howarth's crossbar and into the empty Waterworks End. Play went straight up the other end though with Carlton being fouled by visitors skipper Gareth Evans as they challenged for Howarth's goal-kick.
Carlton taking the free-kick quickly as he played Gall in down the right-hand channel beyond the Wrexham defence. Michael Jones won the one-on-one battle with Gall this time though as he managed to get a glove on Gall's 15-yard right-footed effort, with the ball trickling inches wide of the visitors near-post. An injured Lee Jones being replaced by Kai Edwards for the Welshmen as McDermott waited to take the United corner, the eventual flag-kick coming to nothing.
Ten minutes from time a Wrexham corner in by Johnson saw Conall Murtagh meet the ball with a 15-yard right-footed drive that brought a good save out of Howarth low down at his near-post. Two minutes later though and Carlisle made it 4-2 when McDermott's long angled ball over the top of visitors left-back Jon Hunt found Gall racing free, the United man showing great composure as he lobbed the ball over the head of the advancing Michael Jones and into the net from 30 yards out.
That two goal advantage for the Blues lasted less than sixty seconds though as the Red Dragons went pretty much straight up the other end from the kick-off to score. Done's cross in from the left finding Fleming in the middle 15 yards out, Fleming's right-footed effort seemingly flicking off the legs of a Carlisle defender on it's way past a diving Howarth.
In the 87th minute Howarth made a brilliant save to ensure that United held onto their lead, a long throw in from Done being flicked on by the heads of Reed then Carvill, the touch goalwards from the latter seeing Howarth claw the ball away one-handed fantastically well from the top right-hand corner of his net. The next moment of note coming sixty seconds into injury time when the visitors brought on Obi Anoruo in place of Jamie Price.
Carlisle has the last word in the game though two minutes into added time when Gall claimed his hat-trick after some more reticent Wrexham defending. United, racing away on a break from a corner, getting forward well through Carlton, Vipond and McDermott. The ball eventually coming back to McDermott on the right who chipped a hopeful cross into the back-post, Michael Jones's flapping allowing Gall the simple task of taking a quick touch before thumping the ball into the net, from, at the very most, two yards out.
Moments later came the final whistle on a funny game where, bar the bumper eight goals, nothing much interesting seemed to happen. For me United's trialist Roy Sandeman did OK but didn't look impressive enough to be worth another game in an area where we have plenty of options while both sides need to go back to school after some of the defending on show throughout the 90 minutes. A good win for the Blues all told though and it's another game chalked off the reserves fixture backlog.
United line-up :
Chris Howarth, Paul Arnison, Darren Campion, Dan Kirkup (Matt Duffy 29), Dan Wordsworth, Luke Joyce, Neale McDermott, Roy Sanderson, Danny Carlton, Kevin Gall, Shaun Vipond.
Unused substitutes :
Adam Bradley (GK), Gary Madine, Ged Dalton and Tom Aldred.
Wrexham line-up :
Michael Jones, Jamie Price (Obi Anoruo 90), Jon Hunt, Lee Jones (Kai Edwards 74), Gareth Evans, Andy Fleming, Josh Johnson, Conall Murtagh, Jamie Reed, Mike Carvill, Matty Done.
Unused substitutes :
Chris Maxwell (GK), Tom Matischok and Luke Carding.
Referee - Paul Tierney (Wigan).
Attendance - 50.
Results in the division today :
Blackpool P-P Burnley (Burnley in FA Youth Cup on Friday)
Bury P-P Chester (waterlogged pitch)
Carlisle United 5-3 Wrexham (2pm)
Rochdale 3-0 Tranmere (2pm)
Reserve Team Results : Click here
Reserve Team Table : Click here