City v AFC Carlisle



This tie had been switched at the request of the Westmorland League side, under the new management of Nathan Doyle. City’s side was a mixture of experience and youth, with teenagers Walker, Johnstone and Hickey all starting with Michael Heap in the senior squad for the first time. Veteran striker Michael Reed started his first game of the season after keeping up his stamina with recent marathon running.

It was undoubtedly the visitors who made the better start with Ballantyne making an early save for a corner and then twice the City keeper saved his side when AFC really should have taken the lead from close-range opportunities. City’s first attempt, from Lucock, was saved by Swann but City were ahead on 7 minutes when Walker calmly converted with his left foot for his first senior goal.

There was a delay in play as AFC’s former manager Mason needed treatment to a head injury, after clashing with Reed. In the 15th minute, Blair fired over and then Reed was just wide from Hoolickin’s cross. Simpson was a bit further wide as his shot was blazed off target. The visitors were still enjoying plenty of possession and a 20th-minute shot from Thomson was just off target.

In the 24th minute, it should have been 2-0 as Reed’s shot was saved by Swann, but Lucock could not convert the rebound. Johnstone shot over in the 28th minute but it was soon 2-0 as Blair fired high into the net, for his first goal since the opening day of the season. The visitors responded with an effort just too high from Hunter and, once again, Simpson’s free-kick did not remotely trouble Swann in the AFC goal.

An injury to Gallimore just before half-time saw Earl come on for City, playing right back. Reed then had a goal disallowed for a marginal offside decision and, on the stroke of half-time, Lucock went down under a heavy challenge close to the right corner flag. Under the nose of two of the officials, the challenge was not deemed a foul but Lucock left the field in obvious discomfort, and Tucker came on to play the second half.


Straight after the re-start, Reed should have scored but somehow hit Swann from close range. After this chance, it took City some moments to build up any head of steam in this half, as the game meandered along. From a Blair right-wing cross, Tucker’s header was weak and easily saved by Swann, and then another Tucker effort was also saved by the keeper.

On the hour, Mike Heap came on for his senior debut, replacing Hickey. Blair was becoming more influential in the game and his next cross was headed over by Reed. Another Reed shot was saved before Johnstone’s fine effort clipped the bar, and Simpson’s effort was just too high. Tucker missed another good chance before eventually getting his first goal of the season in the 68th minute, scoring from 10 yards.

The game now began to open up for City and it was 4-0 in the 72nd minute as Reed scored from close range. The highpoint of the game was the fifth goal as Blair went on a fine individual run, beating numerous challenges before finishing stylishly past Swann. Credit is also due here to referee Mulligan for allowing play to continue as Blair was fouled on possibly two occasions.

Ballantyne was then forced into his best save of the game after 75 minutes as he flew through the air to tip over Hunter’s 25 yard shot. In the 84th minute, it was 6-0 and a hat-trick for Blair who rose at the back post to head in.

TEAMS- CITY- Ballantyne, Gallimore, Hoolickin, Simpson, Taylor, Walker, Lucock, Johnstone, Reed, Lucock, Hickey SUBS- Earl, Tucker, Heap, Townsley
AFC CARLISLE- Swann, Bainbridge, James Mason, Pitt, Sendall, Jonny Mason, Dixon, Hunter, Moorehead, Atkinson, Thomson SUBS- Airey, Kelly, Gimbert, Jackson, Hebson

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