As I drove onto the M55 early this morning I had to admit that I was fancying a late waterlogged pitch postponement at Blackpool's training ground as torrential rain absolutely lashed against my windscreen. On having a quick wander across the pitch though upon arrival the playing surface had held up remarkably well with just a ten yard stretch in from the right wing being the only slightly boggy area as the rain eventually stopped.
One thing that did keep going though throughout the game was a biting cold gale force wind coming straight off the Irish Sea and across the pitch on a marginal angle, with Carlisle having that in their favour in the opening period. The Blues having skipper Lance McGlen back in the starting line-up following his illness last weekend, while there was also a welcome return to the bench for Jack Lynch, with the midfielder on the comeback trail from a recent groin problem.
Nothing really happened of note in the early stages of the game until Carlisle took the lead in the fifth minute. Odysseas Gardikiotis, whose kicking was poor all afternoon in the Blackpool goal, being quickly closed down by Mark Beck, the Blues striker getting a block on the Gardikiotis attempted clearance, and with the ball pinging forward nicely for him he was able to twist his body around to slot home with his stronger left foot from six yards out.
Sixty seconds later and it was Josh Todd playing in Dave Symington for United down the right-hand channel, but Symington was only able to shoot right-footed into the Seasiders side-netting at the near-post from ten yards out. The Cumbrians going close again shortly afterwards when Todd smacked a ball in across the box, but the slight touch off the left leg of Patrick Brough in the middle of the Blackpool box disappeared away wide of the right-hand post.
With nine minutes on the clock the Seasiders registered their first shot when Josh Ling struck a right-footed 20-yarder straight at Jordan Parker, then two minutes later Blackpool did find an equaliser. Brad Staunch giving the ball away for Carlisle at the back with that then allowing Conor Ready to push on and curl a nicely placed left-footed effort from the edge of the United penalty area across Parker and into the far corner of the net.
Moments later and Brad Potts for the Blues struck a right-footed 22-yarder into the gloves of Odysseas Gardikiotis on the bounce, then in the 13th minute Potts played Beck through down the left-hand channel, Beck though, form 15 yards out, sliding his left-footed shot across goal and wide of the target. The Tangerines then responding three minutes later with a poor Ready left-footed 20-yard shot over the top.
Blackpool them almost took the lead in the 20th minute when Symington this time gave the ball away, Ashley Rowley then able to cut in from the left only to see his right-footed drive from 22 yards out bounce away off the base of Parker's left-hand post. Marcus Johnston-Schuster, who didn't have the best of games in the heart of the Tangerines defence, then sticking a cross in from the right in the 22nd minute which came off the right shoulder of Ling in the middle of the Carlisle box on its way into the arms of Parker.
It was the Cumbrians who found the net sixty seconds later though when Brough set up Potts for a low cross in from the left which Johnston-Schuster made a complete hash of attempting to clear, that then allowing to Beck to shoot home with his left foot from close range for his second goal of the game. McGlen then in the 26th minute on one of his many forways forward today firing over the top right-footed from 22 yards out.
After 29 minutes Potts played a nice ball through for Brandon Gwinnutt but Gwinnutt's left-footed 12-yard shot was only scuffed across goal and wide of Parker's left-hand post. The same pair then combining shortly afterwards but this time Gwinnutt's right-footed drive from the edge of the Tangerines box zipped away wide of the target. Gwinnutt (pictured at top) though the Blues man of the match today for his constant harrying and pressing of Blackpool's possession in the Carlisle engine room.
Dillon Morse then lobbed a ball into the home box on 32 minutes which that man Johnston-Schuster completely missed again, with Beck then sliding his left-footed shot from 12 yards out on the resultant loose ball wide of the Blackpool left-hand post. Johnston-Schuster at least touching the ball four minutes later, only to stand on it and fall over, that allowing Brough to go through one-on-one, but Odysseas Gardikiotis made a good save away to his left on Brough's left-footed 12-yard effort.
Alex Gardikiotis then in the 38th minute struck a left-footed drive from 25 yards out straight at Parker, before up at the other end Todd's left-footed 22-yard half-volley slashed away wide of the Tangerines far-post moments later. Play now getting a bit more even and in the 41st minute Staunch conceded possession, but Rowley's chipped right-footed effort from 18 yards out drifted away wide of Parker's right-hand post.
It was then Ling giving the ball away for Blackpool three minutes later but Brough's left-footed shot from the edge of the Seasiders box saw Odysseas Gardikiotis make an excellent save away to his right with his legs. United though making the most of having the slight wind advantage right on half-time when Symington's pass found Potts just outside the box, Potts then producing a nice turn inside before curling a lovely right-footed shot across goal and into the far corner of the home net.
Like the first-half, the opening attack for Carlisle in the second period produced a goal as Beck pushed a pass through for Gwinnutt to race onto and toe-poke with his right boot a shot low into the bottom corner of the Blackpool net from 12 yards out after 48 minutes. It was then 5-1 to Carlisle five minutes later after Symington's cross in from the right somehow pinged away behind for a corner off the legs of Harrison McGeahy when the Seasiders defender was almost on his own goal-line.
Brough sticking the resultant flag-kick in from which Odysseas Gardikiotis made a clanger of a drop, with Beck laying the ball back for McGlen to fire home into the net with a left-footed half-volley from ten yards out. Blues boss Eric Kinder then making his first substitution of the game during the break in play when Tom Berwick replaced Symington. Gwinnutt then after 58 minutes feeding in Beck for a left-footed 15-yard drive which brought a pretty easy save out of Odysseas Gardikiotis.
Tangerines manager John Hills then made all his three substiutions in one go in the 61st minute when he replaced Emmanuel N'Daw, Johnston-Schuster and Ling with Joe Noblet, Dan Woosey and Sam Staunton-Turner respectively. Eric Kinder then responding with a replacement of his own in the 65th minute when the extremely industrious Gwinnutt, who had taken a very slight knock, came off with schoolboy midfielder Kyle Dempsey coming on in his place.
Carlisle then put a lovely passing move together at the midway point in the half with Beck eventually heading behind Todd for a Todd overhead kick from the penalty spot which sliced away from goal before being collected by Odysseas Gardikiotis. Dempsey then shortly afterwards firstly shooting wide of the Seasiders far-post with his right boot from 20 yards out, before from a similar distance he fired over the top with his other foot.
With 72 minutes on the clock Todd then slammed a left-footed half-volley from the edge of the penalty area across goal but wide of the home left-hand post, then three minutes later United made their final change when the returning Lynch replaced Brough on the left flank. Berwick was then looking to get himself on the Blues scoresheet after 77 minutes but his left-footed drive from fully 25 yards out only disappeared away over the top on the wind.
It was Blackpool though looking to pull a goal back sixty seconds later when a corner in from Rowley dropped at the right foot of Kieran Shaw at the Carlisle back-stick, Shaw though only able to thump his shot from there straight into Parker's side-netting. United were soon back into it though and on 82 minutes Berwick found McGlen in the right-hand channel, McGlen then running on a little before fairly lashing a 15-yard right-footed drive across goal and wide of the Tangerines far-post.
The last chance for there to be any more goals in the game coming in the 87th minute when Shaw for Blackpool sent a pacey deep cross in from the right which Ready headed over the top from the middle of the Carlisle box. So, that makes it nine wins out of ten now in the league for a top scoring in the division United side who have gone back to the top of the table today, it doesn't get any easier next week though as the young Blues are on the road again, this time at sixth-placed Bury.
Blackpool line-up :
Odysseas Gardikiotis, Emmanuel N'Daw, (Joe Noblet 61), Mitchell Clayton, Alex Gardikiotis, Harrison McGeahy, Marcus Johnston-Schuster (Dan Woosey 61), Ashley Rowley, Kieran Shaw, Conor Ready, Josh Ling (Sam Staunton-Turner 61), Dion Charles.
Unused substitutes :
Connor Hunt (GK) and Ramone Blackett.
United line-up :
Jordan Parker, Lance McGlen (c), Dale Minor, Brandon Gwinnutt (Kyle Dempsey 65), Brad Staunch, Dillon Morse, Dave Symington (Tom Berwick 53), Josh Todd, Mark Beck, Brad Potts, Patrick Brough (Jack Lynch 75).
Unused substitutes :
Josh Calvert and Dan Jones.
Referee - N Cox.
Assistants - D Heighway and R Aspinall.
Youth Team Table : Click here