Adaptable Cumbrians give Curle real tonic
CARLISLE boss Keith Curle was impressed by the way his team were able to adapt against a physical Cambridge side as they picked up a first win of the campaign.
First-half goals from Reggie Lambe and Tom Parkes secured the points, sandwiching a Medy Elito penalty for the home side.
Curle was particularly pleased with the way his squad coped with the physical threat of U’s strikers Uche Ikpeazu and former Carlisle man Jabo Ibehre.
“The players adapted, understood the plan and applied themselves, and I think the ability to do that is important for a team that wants to move forward,” said Curle.
“We want to get the ball down and pass it, but we know the opposition we were facing wanted confrontation, and we met that head on and earned the right to score our goals. They had two man mountains up front but we stood up to the challenge well and handled the battle.
“It was difficult because we had to make changes, but it’s a squad game, and everyone has a part to play this season.”
Carlisle could have been 2-0 up by the time Lambe swept them into an early lead, profiting from good play from Hallam Hope and Ritchie Bennett to shoot past David Forde.
The U’s responded within six minutes, after Carlisle stopper Jack Bonham spilled a cross from the left and Elito was flattened in the box by Danny Grainger. The winger, who scored a hat-trick against the Cumbrians last season, sent Bonham the wrong way from the spot.
Cambridge dominated the rest of the half, but found themselves behind for a second time when Parkes tapped in after Forde had saved from Tom Miller.
And though the U’s had territorial advantage again after the break, the only chance of note saw Ibehre’s header tipped onto the bar.
U’s boss Shaun Derry insisted there was no reason to panic despite a second straight defeat to start the league campaign.
“We could easily have got something from the game, but we’re looking for a bit more quality in the final third,” he said.
“I’ve told the players they just have to stay focused. We responded well to the early goal, scored a deserved equaliser, but we haven’t capitalised at key moments in the game. We’ve played two of the teams that reached the play-offs last year and lost both by the odd goal. It’s early days in the season and we need to keep some perspective.”