Two new trialists were on show today, one playing the full 90 minutes in central midfield, in place of suspended skipper Shaun Vipond, while the other played the second-half at centre-back as a substitute for Dan Wordsworth. Partnering Wordsworth, as usual, in the middle of the back four, was Terry Stewart who took over the captain's armband from the absent Vipond who watched the game from the sidelines.
Little happened in the opening stages of a keenly-contested match that saw the ball spend a lot of time in the central areas of a bobbly pitch, the first real shot on goal coming in the 14th minute when Carlisle's midfield trialist shot over from 20 yards out. Four minutes later United left-back Matthew Blake fired in a 25-yard free-kick which the Latics keeper was able to collect at his near-post.
After 22 minutes Wigan missed a good chance to score when a deep ball in from the right saw one of their strikers send a side-footed volley narrowly wide of the far-post from close range. Just before the half-hour mark an Andy Hardman corner for the Blues found the head of Stewart 12 yards out, Stewart heading just wide of the near-post under heavy pressure from a Wigan defender.
With 34 minutes on the clock the game went end-to-end for sixty seconds, an initial Wigan free-kick in from the right saw some pinball in the Carlisle box before the ball was cleared and United broke forward. A pass by Stephen Hindmarch to Matthew Wood was soon intercepted though and the Latics came back with a quick ball over the top. Their number eleven raced on to the pass but Cumbrians keeper Scott Carson was quickly off his line as he managed to block, with his hip, the attempted lob from the Wigan man from just inside the Carlisle 'D'.
Four minutes later Wigan had an opportunity from a corner when a header in on the United goal was hacked away for another flag-kick, this time though Carson came off his line to make an excellent claim on the ball in the blustery conditions. In the 42nd minute Carlisle were awarded a free-kick for handball just outside the Latics 'D', Blake again took the set-piece with his left-foot and it took the Wigan keeper two goes to clutch the ball into his chest at his near-post.
United seemed to be denied a very good penalty claim a minute before the break when Matthew Brown, marauding down the flank from his right-back spot, was bundled off the ball in the Wigan box, no spot-kick was forthcoming though despite the protests from the Carlisle youngsters. Bang on the half-time whistle and Carson was forced into a good save when a ball in from the left was well taken by the Wigan number eleven who turned sharply before firing in a low left-footed shot from 15 yards out.
The first action of the second-half came before the kick-off when Wordsworth, who had been struggling with a nose bleed that required both nostrils to be bunged up with tissue paper, was replaced at centre-half by Carlisle's second trialist on the day. With three minutes gone Blake was somewhat harshly booked for dissent by the referee given some of the industrial language on show from the Wigan players that had been ignored by the official.
After 50 minutes a long throw into the visitors box by Brown saw Wood running in on the ball, off-balance as he was being challenged though Wood was unable to hit the target from 15 yards out as his shot sliced wide. Five minutes later and another good turn on the edge of the Cumbrians box by the Latics number eleven saw him drill a left-footed effort narrowly wide of Carson's near-post. With 58 minutes gone, as the visitors had a good spell in the game, Stewart conceded a free-kick 22 yards out in a central position, the set-piece was wasted though as the Wigan right-back drove a shot straight into the Blues defensive wall.
Just after the hour-mark and the Latics were again pressing for the opening goal of the game when a cross in from the right saw a header flash wide of the Carlisle far-post from just six yards out. Midway through the half United made their second change of the game when Ashley Combe came on for Dowson, the resultant reshuffle seeing Combe go to right-back with Brown pushing up into Dowson's midfield spot. Combe was quickly involved too as his throw-in saw Gary Madine tee himself up for a 22-yard right-footed volley which flew straight into the hands of the Wigan keeper.
The second booking of the match came the way of the visitors in the 68th minute when their number ten was yellow-carded for a late challenge on Hardman. Four minutes later Wood tried his luck from distance for United but his left-footed shot from the right-angle of the Wigan box flew across the face of goal and out for a by-kick. After 77 minutes Hindmarch conceded a free-kick 35 yards out which was wasted by the visitors when their number seven sent a weak low shot in which was easily booted clear.
The game had been petering out for a while to be honest with defences well on top, the next shot on goal coming as late as the 85th minute when Brown fired a right-footed effort from distance high and wide of the Wigan goal. Two minutes later Combe hit a long Carlisle free-kick up which was only part-cleared straight to the feet of Hindmarch 18 yards out, a deflection took the pace off his shot although it did take the diving Latics keeper two attempts to cling on to the ball as it bobbled towards him at his far-post.
The final opportunity of the match came with a minute to go when a shot from the Wigan right-back from 25 yards out was so badly pulled across the target it almost went out for a United throw-in on the far side of the pitch. A draw was the right result in fairness when the final whistle blew, it was also a well gained point for the Blues who fielded a young side against a much older looking Latics outfit, all of whom seemed to above the six-foot mark, and it's easy to see why Wigan are second in the table having only lost two league games to date.
United line-up :
Grant Carson, Matthew Brown, Matthew Blake, Terry Stewart, Dan Wordsworth (B Trialist 46), Michael Dowson (Ashley Combe 66), A Trialist, Matthew Wood, Gary Madine, Stephen Hindmarch, Andy Hardman.
Unused substitute :
Results in the division this morning :
Carlisle 0-0 Wigan
Wrexham 0-0 Chester
Fixtures in the division next week :
Accrington Stanley v Blackpool
Burnley v Oldham
Chester v Wrexham
Port Vale v Macclesfield
Preston v Bury
Stockport v Walsall
Tranmere v Shrewsbury
Wigan v Carlisle
Youth Team Results : Click here
Youth Team Tables : Click here
Youth Team Reports : Click here
Youth Team Squad : Click here