Cumbrians Held In Memorable Match At Mem
April 16, 2006
[image1] Finally Rovers found their home form yesterday to show both in form League 2 leaders Carlisle United and the home fans that theres life left in the play-offs challenge yet, even if we continue to make it as hard as possible for ourselves.
After a very poor showing last Saturday against League 2 whipping boys Rushden and Diamonds, many, including the bookies, didn’t fancy the Pirates chances of getting anything at all from yesterday afternoons encounter at the Mem.
With it being Easter weekend it was hoped we would get a good turn out, but sadly, below par performances like the one witnessed last week at the Mem have seemingly been the last straw for quite a few and the attendance was a little over the 6000 mark.
The match kicked off and developed a frenetic pace very quickly. Carlisle had brought over 700 fans who were hoping to see them clinch the title and played as if they hoped to kill Rovers off early. It wasn’t to be and as the game wore on, it was Rovers who started to look the more purposeful, building good play and using posession well.
[image2]Haldane was looking sharp for the home side, as was Igoe, playing his last game for Rovers before heading back to Millwall for the rest of the season. Shearer was called into action very early in the Rovers goal, having to get down to make some smart saves and having to cover some balls that went close to the goal frame. Rovers replied with a good effort going narrowly wide from Igoe, who saw the space open up for him after good running and a pass from Haldane. Soon after, again Shearer was called upon to stop a fizzing shot from Hawley. Shearer kept the ball out and had to jump to his feet to gather at the second attempt. It wa sa great save and the visiting striker showed his appreciation for Shearer’s efforts with a pat on the back.
After further Rovers efforts, Carlisle came the closest of the match so far as Shearers cross bar was rattled by a free kick from Carlisle number 3 Murphy. Shearer was a spectator and it took an alert Chris Carruthers to get the ball away to safety. Murphy had a further effort go close and Agogo, Igoe and Haldane also went close for the home side.
The teams left the pitch to applause from all corners of the stadium for a half that was a very good advert for League 2 football.
[image3] As the second half got under way, Rovers started to enjoy more of the ball and took the game to the visitors. Walker went close after more good work from Haldane but really should have got his shot on target. Next it was Carruthers turn as he put a ball into the 18 yard box which looked like it could have been either a shot or a cross. Whatever it was it eluded Agog by inches and had the Bass Terrace finally finding their voice. Moments later, and the home side finally got the goal their efforts deserved. Carlisle were finding it difficult to get the ball away from their goal area as they were under constant pressure and continually giving the ball back with bad clearances. One was pounced on by Igoe who passed to Disley stood just outside the box. He flicked the ball up, turned and shot from 25 yards leaving Carlisle ‘keeper Westwood flapping at thin air. It was surely a goal of the season contender and really got the atmosphere going in the home areas of the Memorial stadium, with just 35 minutes to play. From that moment there was as much watch checking going on as watching the match by Rovers fans eager for all three points.
Rovers continued to plie on the pressure and it looked like just a matter of time before they would add to their lead. On the day, despite a much improved performance from many Rovers players after last week, sadly both the strikers were having a tough day where nothing went right for them. Very shorlty after, Haldane cut inside having teased his way through 3 Carlsile defenders and shot only for Westwood to tip over the bar for a Rovers corner.
[image4] With Carlisles strike force having the same tally as the Rovers pairing, it was surprising they had barely had an opportunity on goal. This was largely down to Lescott keeping Michael Bridges very quiet. As the game wore on, Haldane was coming back and getting some great last ditch tackles in to help out too, and his efforts were clearly appreciated by the home crowd.
With 15 minutes to go and with the visitors having made a sustitution, Carlisle got themselves back into the match. The ball was over by the corner nera the pasty hut at the XXXX stand end of the stadium and going nowhere. Suddenly they got a good ball right over to the far post, over the head of Lescott and into the path of the oncoming Simon Hackney, who took a chance and headed home for the equaliser. It was a real blow and you could see the disappointment on the Rovers player’s faces, who had worked so hard and slipped up at this crucial time.
[image5] Shortly afterwards, Haldane went off to be replaced by Stuart Campbell to a standing ovation from the home crowd, having had maybe his best performance in a Rovers shirt. He was one from a number of contenders, but deservedly won the man of the match award.
As the game entered the final stages, a draw began to seem a fair result, but it was a shame after such a good display from the home side. Things weren’t as bad as they first seemed though as Gasheads learned that play-off rivals Lincoln had drawn, and both Wrexham and Peterborough had lost. It seems the race is still on after all and a good result for Rovers at the Racecourse ground on Monday will do the cause no harm at all.