Dale dish out harsh lesson to Cumbrians
CARLISLE UNITED look on course to be playing League One football next season, but manager Keith Curle admitted his side were taught a lesson on how much they need to improve to be competitive higher up the football pyramid after being dumped out of the FA Cup by Rochdale.
Dale booked their place in round three with a solid performance at Brunton Park as second-half goals from Steve Davies and Nathaniel MendezLaing did the business.
And while the Cumbrians can now focus on their promotion push Curle knows there is plenty of work still if Carlisle are to escape League Two this season.
He said: “We were excellent in the first half and caused them problems, particularly with set pieces, but once they scored the first goal just after half-time they showed how strong they are.
“They are a good side who play the game the right way and were collectively better than us in the second half. Sometimes you just have to accept that and we will learn from this.
“We can use them as a bit of a benchmark. We want to be in League One next year and they have shown the sort of quality we need to have if we get there.’’
As for Rochdale boss Keith Hill, he was delighted with his side’s professionalism.
“This was always going to be a very tough game against a very good side who I am sure are going to get promoted,” Hill said.
“They are a very dangerous side, particularly at set pieces, but we put in a very professional performance and perhaps could have won the game by a greater margin.
“The win was everything, it keeps the cup run going, it helps the finances and it keeps up the winning habit. We have only lost four games in the last 20 and we are looking to breed that winning habit into a bunch of good young players, so I am delighted with the way everything has gone.’’
Carlisle started brightly with Jason Kennedy looping a header inches over the bar and Danny Grainger testing Conrad Logan with a long-range strike.
But on 49 minutes Davies produced a moment of pure quality when he turned sharply on the edge of the area and produced a left-foot volley that took a wicked deflection to loop over keeper Mark Gillespie for his tenth of the season.
The home side struggled from there and substitute MendezLaing added a 90th-minute second when he slotted in at the back post.