A couple of new faces, in the shape of a trialist goalkeeper - due to a back injury to youth team number one Grant Carson, and under-16s midfielder Matty Welsh, came into the Carlisle eleven with trialist Michael Dowson, from over Middlesbrough way, also reappearing after featuring in the 2-0 home win over Blackpool in ealry November.
After the recent rain the pitch had held up suprisingly well and both sides were able to pass the ball without any problems. United had the first chance in the fourth minute when Matthew Blake stuck a long-range free-kick up which was flicked on into the path of Gary Madine by skipper Shaun Vipond. Madine, under pressure from a Stanley defender, was unable to get his 15-yard half-volley on target though and the chance was gone.
Four minutes later the Reds had their opening opportunity of the contest when a goalbound 22-yard free-kick was taken in on the bounce by United's young trialist goalkeeper. With fifteen minutes on the clock some nice Accrington link-up play saw a fierce half-volley smashed across the box from the left-hand side of the Carlisle box inches over the angle of the far-post and bar.
After 20 minutes some nice play by Blake, Stephen Hindmarch and Madine on the left saw the ball break across to Andy Hardman 25 yards out in the middle, Hardman pulling his resultant left-footed shot wide of the near-post. Three minutes on and Blake stuck in a cracking deep cross from his left-back berth which Madine rose well to meet at the back-post, sadly for the targetman though his header flew straight at the Stanley glovesman.
The Blues took the lead with 25 minutes gone when right-back Matthew Brown made an excellent marauding run down his flank only to be scythed down just as he was cutting in and looking to run into the penalty area, the Stanley number five being yellow carded for the foul. With the Accrington keeper still organising his wall Blake asked the referee if he could take a quick free-kick, and he did just that as he curled a left-footed shot around the wall and into the far bottom corner with the visitors custodian looking on in confused fashion. Protests ensued from the players in red but the goal stood and United were a goal to the good.
Just after the half-hour mark Madine flicked on a long throw into the path of Hindmarch, the young striker could only hit his shot on goal over the top from close range though. After 38 minutes Blake hammered a long-range half-volley high and wide of the Stanley goal, then three minutes later Hardman's left-footed 22-yarder flew straight into the arms of the visitors keeper. Carlisle having the majority of possession against a young Accrington side who were unable to make the ball stick upfront throughout the 90 minutes.
Some drowsy defending cost the visitors again as the clock ticked into the final minute of the half as the Cumbrians scored their second. Hardman and Vipond working a quick short corner that saw Hardman cross the ball into the middle, where Dan Wordsworth, completely unmarked six yards out, was left with the simple task of heading down and into the Stanley net to double United's lead. In injury time the Blues almost made it three when a good Terry Stewart tackle saw Vipond race on with the ball and fire in a right-footed 25-yard effort which the Reds keeper did well to get down to and push round his far-post.
Carlisle were still bossing the game early in the second period and Hindmarch was the first up to the plate three minutes in when he fired wide from 18 yards out down the right-hand channel. Sixty seconds later Madine got on the end of a Vipond through ball, the North-East based striker flashing a left-footed shot across goal narrowly wide of the Stanley far-post from 18 yards out. The Reds had their first effort on goal in the second period moments later when a weak 20-yard drive was easily collected by United's debutant keeper.
After 52 minutes Vipond and Hardman worked another short corner with Stewart heading Hardman's resultant cross inches past the Accrington near-post. Two minutes later and it was 3-0 to Carlisle when a sharp Blake throw-in saw Vipond thump in a goalbound 22-yard half-volley from the left-angle of the penalty area. The Stanley keeper, who was perhaps their best player on the day, did very well to parry the shot out at his near-post, but Hindmarch was by far the quickest player to react to the loose ball as he was presented with a close-range tap-in to all but finish the game off.
With 57 minutes gone the visitors left-back cut in and fired in a shot on his weaker right foot which was easy fare for the Blues glovesman as Stanley desperately tried to get something going upfront. Sixty seconds later and Madine was perhaps too honest for his own good when he latched onto an awful back-pass and looked to round the Reds custodian in the penalty area, the keeper just catching Madine on his way past and sending him off-balance. The Carlisle man tried hard to stay on his feet though and was unlucky to see his shot from a narrow angle thud against the near-post as he crashed to the ground, the referee waving play on as the ball pinged back into the hands of the Stanley keeper.
Bang on the hour-mark and Wordsworth somehow went into the book for what looked like a clean tackle on the edge of his own penalty area, the resultant Accrington free-kick flying straight into the Carlisle defensive wall. After 64 minutes United's lead became 4-0 thanks to a classic centre-foward's goal, Vipond sending a cracking right-wing cross into the back-post which Madine met with a lovely eight-yard diving header that fairly zoomed back across goal and nestled in the bottom corner of the Stanley net.
Midway through the half and Blues boss Eric Kinder made a double substitution when he brought on Richie Hoban for Hardman and Matthew Wood for Dowson. After 69 minutes, with Carlisle in complete control, the Blues almost grabbed a fifth goal, Vipond crossing back in after a free-kick had been cleared, Wordsworth met the ball on the volley at the back-post and only a great save by the Reds keeper at his near-post denied the United defender. The ball was cleared straight to Welsh from the resultant Vipond corner, but the 15-year old was only able to fire his left-footed half-volley over the top.
Wood was desperately unlucky with 15 minutes to go when good work by Vipond in the middle set him up to drive on and hammer in a thunderbolt of a shot from 25 yards out. It looked in all the way only for the Stanley glovesman to make another good save as he fingertipped the fierce effort onto the underside of the crossbar, the ball rebounding away to safety as Wood held his head in his hands. Two minutes later Carlisle made their third and final change of the game when Ashley Combe replaced Wordsworth in the right-hand centre-half spot.
In the 83rd minute United broke away quickly from an Accrington corner with Madine and Hindmarch linking up well against a back-tracking Stanley defence, Madine eventually firing in a low 18-yard drive which, again, was well saved at the far-post. Two minutes on and Hoban missed a good chance to grab a rare goal for himself when he latched on to a lovely pass over the top of the Reds left-back by Combe. Hoban heading the bouncing ball inside the centre-half only to drag his close-range shot wide of the near-post on his weaker left foot with just the goalkeeper to beat.
Wood was again looking to get himself on the scoresheet from long-range with four minutes to go, this time though his 22-yarder was sliced high and wide of the Accrington goal. After 88 minutes the Blues put together a lovely passing move as they played keep-ball against a tired Stanley side, after about 15 passes Blake ending up seeing his low cross from the left put out for a corner. Vipond once more stuck the flag-kick in and this time it was Hindmarch who got on the end of it first as his header went wide of the far-post from six yards out.
The match had been getting a little bit tetchy in the closing stages as the visitors got frustrated with the scoreline and what they thought was a poor performance from the referee going against them. A United player was the first one to go in the book in the rough latter stages of the match though, to add to the earlier one for Wordsworth, when Vipond was yellow carded for a late tackle on the Accrington substitute number sixteen. The Stanley youngster soon got his revenge, and a booking for himself, though when he scythed down Stewart moments later.
Fortunately the final whistle blew after three minutes of injury time to stop things boiling over too much, that shrill of the whistle signalling an excellent return to action for the lads, a very good performance all through the side sealing the three points and Carlisle's fourth league victory in a row in Group A of the North-West Conference. The chance to keep that winning run going comes next Saturday morning as United face a trip to Blackpool.
United line-up :
A Trialist, Matthew Brown, Matthew Blake, Terry Stewart, Dan Wordsworth (Ashley Combe 77), Shaun Vipond (c), Matthew Welsh, Michael Dowson (Matthew Wood 66), Stephen Hindmarch, Gary Madine, Andy Hardman (Richie Hoban 66).
Unused substitute :
Results in the division this morning :
Burnley 1-2 Blackpool
Carlisle 4-0 Accrington Stanley
Chester 4-0 Stockport
Oldham 4-3 Wigan
Tranmere 1-2 Walsall
Wrexham 2-4 Port Vale
Rochdale P-P Preston
Shrewsbury P-P Macclesfield
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