In the first of a new series for this season 14 year old, Yorkshire based Blues fan Mark Donnelly brings us his views of his visit to the Crooked Spire town.
I was accompanied to the game by two friends (neither of them Carlisle fans) in the promise they would see some ‘proper football’. We joined over 500 other Cumbrians at Chesterfield’s b2net Stadium, in the hope that Carlisle could string together two successive wins.
The midweek win over Tranmere had given fans renewed hope in the build up to the game, and Greg used the ‘If it ‘aint broke, don’t fix it’ mentality, sticking with the same XI that started at Prenton Park, meaning Liam Noble was again preferred to Tom Taiwo.
Leon Clarke had been in the centre of much controversy in the weeks leading up to the game (picking a fight with Paolo Di Canio is NEVER a good idea), but entered the game in a rich vein of form, and this continued after 3 minutes of the match. Mendy’s cross was too deep, but Westcarr knocked the ball back across the face of the goal, giving Clarke the simplest of tap-ins.
United continued to press, and after a string of corners, they finally got their reward on 20 minutes. A Berrett corner was headed upwards by Murphy. Miller challenged Fleming for the ball, and at the second attempt he volleyed in to equalise for United.
The lead was short lived however, as only 6 minutes later; Clarke doubled his and his sides tally for the afternoon. Former Carlisle target Danny Whittaker, subject of many ‘Where’s your eye patch!’ calls (mostly from Mr McGee (lies! - Ed.)) crossed, and Clarke met the ball with a glancing header. The ball crept past Collin, who looked as if he could have done more to save it. Lee Miller was then forced to come off through injury, with Craig Curran coming on. Surely The Ginger Kuyt was just as prolific as Miller?
Carlisle somehow kept the score at 2-1 coming into half time, courtesy of some fantastic blocks from Michalik and Thirlwell. I met up with John at half time, and we both agreed that the Robson/Murphy partnership on the left side of defence was poor. We also agreed that Chesterfield weren’t particularly impressive, but Carlisle were appalling.
United did little to liven the spirits of the travelling army after the break and after six minutes Clarke completed a career first hat-trick. United failed clear a Whittaker free kick, and after Clarke’s original effort was blocked, he converted a Craig Westcarr flick, to the annoyance of Adam Collin.
The game was put beyond doubt 15 minutes later, as Westcarr headed in to complete the rout. The Blues hadn’t learnt from previous defensive mistakes, and gave him enough time and space to find the finish.
At this point I stopped concentrating on the game, and instead joined in the chorus’ of ‘Twist and Shout’ by The Beatles that a number of fellow Blues had started. Both people I had come with commented on our fans never say die attitude. Despite being 4-1 down, the United faithful were the ones making all the noise.
The only other chance of note came close to the end. You wouldn’t believe it, but occasionally Mr Curran does like to play football instead of rugby kicking out the ground. He slid in a Loy cross, but the linesmen (who in all fairness, looked about 12), deemed the ball to have not crossed the line.
The game finished 4-1, and on the way out the ground, many Chesterfield fans saying ‘How did we score 4?’ As I usually do, I waited outside the players entrance post match. I had a brief chat with Greg, who apologised for the result, and said ‘Things will get put right’. I am an Abbott fan, and have complete faith in the man. This may be an unpopular opinion after the recent sets of results, but I feel Abbott should stay around for a bit longer. The main point is, who could we get better than Abbott? He’s done wonders on our small budget, and established us as a mid-table League 1 side. This may be another unpopular opinion, but as Chris Lumsdon said on BBCRC, we are only a mid-table League 1 side. It may be unwise of me bur, for the foreseeable future at least, I will be staying on Team Abbott.