MK DONS 2 CARLISLE UNITED 0 Tough battle ends in disaster for Cumbrians
WITH a tough December ahead it was important that United put up some kind of fight against table-topping MK Dons on their return to league action following the disappointment of their FA Cup exit last weekend.
The play-off places are still within touching distance, but the Cumbrians know they need some kind of run if they are to keep their season alive with just the league campaign left to deal with.
An almost empty treatment room – long-term absentee and talisman Jason Kennedy has finally been given the green light to step up his recovery programme, with January targeted for a return – has lifted spirits, but it’s the much talked about need to find the back of the net that will really make a difference, should Sheridan’s men start to get that right.
The Dons started the brighter and Healey twice went close as he found space in a crowded box. His header from a D’Ath cross looped over the bar and a fierce volley when he got on the end of a cut back from Cargill. A lunge from Sowerby brought a vital block.
There was more for Carlisle
to think about as they lost Jerry Yates to a hip injury late in the piece, and the space in midfield was exploited well by the home side. A reverse pass to McGrandles invited a shot which Collin was pleased to see curl away from his bottom corner. More tidy football from the hosts saw D’Ath, Cargill and Cisse tease a path through the stubborn back line. Cargill whipped a delivery across the face of goal but it was once again just an inch too high for Healey as he steamed in.
The Cumbrians were let off the hook midway through the half when Cargill rattled a beauty of a delivery into the mix. Collin spilled it, as he banged into Gerrard, and the ball bobbled invitingly loose and unguarded. It was sighs of relief all round as the static attack allowed the keeper to recover.
Having been completely under the cosh it was United who should have taken the lead when Nadesan beat his man to cross low. Hope slid in and got the contact, but Nicholls spread himself to make an excellent save. The rebound hit Hope and careered on to the upright before ricocheting kindly behind as the Carlisle striker threw everything at it in an attempt to get it over the line.
The home side roused themselves and Healey jinked through two challenges to make his way into the box. He was stopped in his tracks as he shaped to shoot but the ball rolled nicely for Agard to have a go. It was going in until an outstretched boot helped it on its way over the target. It was Carlisle’s turn to feel lucky when another winding run from Agard brought a measured pass which Healey put his laces through. Celebrations had all but started until Gary Liddle somehow got there to complete a magnificent scissor-kick of a goal line clearance. It took just five minutes of the second half for the Dons to do what they’d failed to do in the first half when a lack of concentration from a half-cleared corner allowed Houghton to steal in and nick possession. He shot from distance and the slightest of deflections took it past Collin and into the net via the base of the post.
The game became comfortable when Carlisle were caught light at the back as Lewington was sent free on the left flank. His cross was perfect for Agard and the prolific forward left Collin with no chance as his deft flick took the ball into the bottom corner. Keeper Nicholls had to save with his fingertips from Hope when his volley fizzed through bodies, but the home side closed ranks to protect their cushion and to see the game through to its successful conclusion in relative comfort.
Sol Campbell on the touchline ahead of his first EFL game as Macclesfield manager. The Silkmen lost 1-0 at League Two rivals Colchester United