An excellent all round performance from the young Blues as Andy Cook scores two goals and Jonny Blake weighs in with the other

Andy Cook - two more goals
With the Parkhead giants bringing an under-19 side with them down from Scotland it was an ideal chance for Blues boss Eric Kinder to use some of Carlisle's first year professionals. Tom Aldred, Jonny Blake, Andy Cook and Simon Lakeland all in the starting eleven that featured them alongide three second year and four first year YTS players, Conor Tinnion being the only young professional rested ahead of tomorrow's first-team friendly at home to Middlesbrough.

With Jamie Cleary (knee) and Phil Towler (back) both out injured it meant that Steven Swinglehurst again played alongside Aldred at left centre-half, Simon Lakeland and 16-year old Kieran Cahill making up the rest of the back four. While across the middle from left to right at kick-off, behind a front two of Cook and Ryan Bowman, were Matt Osmond, Liam Davison, Jonny Blake and Ben McKenna.

Celtic played the ball around nicely for long periods of the game but there was little end product to it and they were also weak at the back, the goalkeeper in particular often flapping at high balls. Their best player by far was their pacey right-winger and it was he who had the first shot of the game in the second minute when he fired wide of Mark Gillespie's goal from 18 yards out.

Two minutes later though and it was that man Cook once again as Carlisle took the lead after McKenna had been fouled by the visitors' theatrical Czech Republic left-back. Osmond sticking the free-kick in left-footed which saw Aldred and the keeper challenge for possession, the ball flying up in the air for the predatory Cook to nod home from close range at the back-stick.



Gillespie easily held a 12-yarder on the turn from Celtic's lumbering number nine moments later before both Swinglehurst and one of the visitors' centre-halves had to be substituted due to a clash of heads on eight minutes. Swinglehurst going off with a cut head meaning that holding midfielder Sean Law had to come off the bench to fill in in the middle of the back four again, a position he always looks extremely comfortable in.

That wasn't stopping the Cumbrians though as they made it 2-0 on 12 minutes, Osmond's left-footed corner seeing the keeper wave his hands in the air and the ball drop down to Blake, the United midfielder not exactly putting a hole in the net with a left-footed half-volley from the six-yard line which trickled into the goal, they all count though and Blake was in the right place at the right time to finish.

Three minutes later and Gillespie made a simple stop from a Hoops 25-yarder, Cook then feeding Osmond on 20 minutes for a run in from the left and a right-footed shot from 20 yards out straight at the Celtic goalkeeper. Eight minutes later and it was Cook looking for a goal again, his persistence robbing the weak Czech left-back before he forced the visitors stopper into a quick save with a powerfully struck right-footed effort from the edge of the box.

One of the Celtic midfielders hit an excellent long-range effort in after 38 minutes which Gillespie scrambled across his goal to catch very well. McKenna for Carlisle then on 43 minutes sticking a cross into the far-post which Bowman at a tough angle could only head back into the side-netting into the near-post from close range.

From a long ball over the top sixty seconds later Aldred and the big number nine were involved in a bit of shirt pulling as the Celtic man ran in on goal, Aldred though winning the day as he made a tremendous last-ditch tackle to clear the danger. The last action of the half coming three minutes into injury time when, after a corner broke to him, one of the visitors' midfielder could only shoot miles over the top of Gillespie's goal from 15 yards out.


Celtic


Celtic made a double change during the interval as their number nine and right-back were replaced, the Hoops really pinging the ball around nicely on the floor throughout the second-half. Some hard midfield tracking and defensive work from the United lads coupled with a lack of quality for Celtic upfront meant that they wouldn't break through the Blues rearguard though over the 90 minutes.

Gillespie able to watch a badly sliced 15-yard right-footed shot from a good position go wide of his near-post on 53 minutes, before he easily held a left-footer from the edge of the Carlisle penalty area five minutes later. Our mate at left-back for Celtic had to be replaced moments later as he was actually injured this time in his latest fall to the turf in a hefty challenge with McKenna.

Just before the hour-mark and a rushed clearance from Aldred hit the back of one Hoop before landing to another 15 yards out, his left-footed shot from there seeing Gillespie make his only real hard save of the game, an excellent one-handed stop and hold away to his left. Moments later and it was Carlisle getting back into it though, Lakeland's cross in from the right just evading the outstretched boot of Blake on the Celtic penalty spot.

Another change now came for the Cumbrians as the combative Burnley-born McKenna was replaced by Mark Sloan on the right-hand side of the United midfield midway through the half, one of the visitors' substitutes then firing a weak left-footer straight into the arms of Gillespie from 18 yards out in the 68th minute.



After soaking up a lot of Celtic pressure after the interval Carlisle connected with a counter punch as they went 3-0 up on 70 minutes. Cook racing onto the end of a ball up from the Cumbrians midfield to control well before cutting in past a defender, rounding the goalkeeper and stroking the ball into an empty net from six yards out, a tough finish made to look easy.

Two minutes later and Cook was sniffing a hat-trick as he chased down a Lakeland pass in the right-hand channel. It was a tight angle for the United striker though and the goalkeeper was able to palm his right-footed 15-yard effort out for a corner, the resultant Osmond and Blake short flag-kick coming to nothing. That being the last action of the game for Osmond as he was replaced like for like by fellow first-year YTS left-sider Paddy O'Brien.

One of the Celtic midfielders could only threaten the corner flag after 78 minutes when his 20-yard shot sliced horrendously out for a throw-in on the near-side of a freshly mown Creighton football pitch. A change coming for Carlisle down that flank moments later as James Wood came on for Cahill at left-back, 16-year olds Osmond and Cahill both having impressed for United on that side of the field.

With ten minutes left Gillespie was able to throw his hat on a weak 20-yard effort from the Celtic number seven, before in the 84th minute a left-footed Hoops corner was met by a towering eight-yard header from their big centre-half. Lakeland though saving the day as he blocked the effort on the line, Gillespie then able to land on the ball and claim it with both hands.

United's final changes in personnel in the game came with three minutes to go when James Reid replaced Bowman upfront and James Bonner, normally a right-back, came on for Davison in the Blues engine room. Carlisle then able to coast through the remainder of the 90, plus three minutes of injury time, to chalk up a clean sheet on an excellent, and very hardworking performance, throughout the whole team.



United line-up :

Mark Gillespie, Simon Lakeland, Kieran Cahill (James Wood 78), Tom Aldred, Steven Swinglehurst (Sean Law 8), Ben McKenna (Mark Sloan 67), Liam Davison (James Bonner 87), Andy Cook, Ryan Bowman (James Reid 87), Matt Osmond (Paddy O'Brien 72).

Unused substitute :

Jon Ball (GK).



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