CUMBRIAN DROUGHT CONTINUES
ADESPERATE run of six defeats in seven has seen a blip turn into a crisis of confidence for Carlisle.
At November’s end, they were top and looked unstoppable. Charlie Wyke had scored a hat-trick as Mansfield were dispatched 5-2.
Now, following defeat to Crewe, they are out of the play-off places.
Eighteen-goal Wyke has gone, and so too has the attacking verve that made Brunton Park a daunting place to visit, as the Cumbrians have scored only seven goals since his departure
“If you take goals out of any team it is difficult to replace them,” said manager Keith Curle after witnessing his side fail to score in a seventh straight game and 686 minutes of league football altogether.
“There is a changing room that is very fragile at the minute. I have told them, ‘Don’t bring individual excuses to the table’. We need a win, we need to get a goal. We start with a goal then we get a cleansheet and then we build on that.
“I could satisfy myself and ruin everyone’s Mother’s Day and get them in and run them up and down and absolutely lambast them. Is that going to help them? No.
“Things are going against us at the minute and this is when we find out who is going to be in that changing room next year.”
Callum Cooke’s 34th-minute strike gave Alex a half-time advantage before Jordan Bowery doubled the lead, and secured the points, just after the hour mark.
If the sun was cause to smile, the quality of football was not as both sides toiled without displaying any real quality prior to Cooke’s opener.
After feeding George Cooper on the edge of the box, Cooke ran in behind the static home defence to sweep home the former’s dinked ball over the top.
As the game meandered into the second half, a 51st-minute moment of Shaun Miller madness saw the former Crewe man sent off following a lunge on Oliver Turton.
Alex took advantage of the extra man to end the game as a contest in the 61st minute, Cooper again turning provider by firing low across goal from the right for Bowery to tap in.
“The lads have delivered again,” said Crewe boss David Artell.
“They have stood up to the physical nature of what Carlisle have thrown at them. At the end of the game they had six forwards on the pitch and they’ve still not had a chance. “They are getting the rewards and the plaudits they richly deserve at the minute.” One player who excelled for Alex was Cooper, who drew high praise from his manager. “George’s individual brilliance to flick the ball over the defence (for the first goal) is terrific,” added Artell. “Then for the second goal he sets it up with his courage to get at the opposition. That shows how good George Cooper is.”
COOKING UP A TREAT: Crewe’s Callum Cooke gets his team going
BIG MOMENT: Cooke catches Carlisle napping to score