Carlisle United 2-1 Blackpool: Lifeless Seasiders taste defeat in EFL Trophy group game

Ryan Loft celebrates after scoring Carlisle's equaliser
Ryan Loft celebrates after scoring Carlisle's equaliser
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Carlisle United came from behind to beat under-par Blackpool in the group stage of the EFL Trophy.

READ MORE: Carlisle United v Blackpool as it happened

Carlisle United came from behind to beat under-par Blackpool in the group stage of the EFL Trophy.

Canice Carroll struck three minutes from time to win it for the home side in a game played in front of less than 1,000 fans at Brunton Park.

The Seasiders, who edged ahead courtesy of Calum Macdonald’s strike, can have no complaints with the result after producing a lacklustre display.

Creativity was the major issue once again, as Pool struggled to create clear openings against a much-changed Carlisle side.

Pool were in control for the majority of the first half without ever looking convincing, but were pegged back in stoppage time to go into the break on level terms.

But they produced an inept display in the second period, completely devoid of any quality while their play was littered with mistakes across the park.

It means Blackpool, who thrashed Morecambe 5-1 in their opening group game, will need a positive result against Wolves’ Under-21 side in their third and final game.

Simon Grayson made eight changes to his side in total, Jay Spearing, Callum Guy and Sean Scannell the three to keep their place in the starting line-up.

Nathan Delfouneso was handed his first start since August, having come off the bench in Saturday’s 2-1 defeat to Rotherham United to mark his return from a hamstring injury.

Youngster Nathan Shaw started in midfield, while 17-year-old Ewan Bange was named among the substitutes alongside Mark Howard.

Elias Sorensen, who endured an unsuccessful loan spell with the Seasiders last season, started for the Cumbrians.

Delfouneso, who started in an advanced role just off Ryan Hardie, had Pool’s first opening of the evening as he curled straight at the Carlisle keeper Louis Gray from 20 yards out.

At the other end, Pool were given an early let-off when Callum Guy was almost punished for a backpass to Christoffer Mafoumbi that was picked up by Carlisle man Harry McKirdy, who took the ball past the keeper only to overrun the ball out for a goal kick.

Both teams were looking extremely lethargic and it soon became evident it would take a mistake or a moment of quality to break the deadlock.

It was the former that happened on 25 minutes as the Seasiders took the lead, Calum Macdonald the man to find to score what was his first goal for the club.

It was a muted celebration from the 21-year-old, whose innocuous-looking ball back into the box went straight through the arms of Gray and into the back of the net.

It came after the unmarked Michael Nottingham had been denied with a towering header from a cross.

Left-back Macdonald looked to add an unlikely second when he let fly from 30 yards, but Gray watched on as the shot flew comfortably over the bar.

Carlisle man Jon Mellish was fortunate to only get away with a booking when he clattered into Pool skipper Jay Spearing, who was able to continue despite the late and rash challenge.

The home side ought to have drawn themselves level five minutes before the break, Doug Loft somehow managing to stab wide when one-on-one with Mafoumbi.

It came after Pool were hit on the break, Loft skipping past Ryan Edwards who had lunged into a desperate challenge.

Space opened up for Hardie on the edge of the area on the stroke of half-time, but the striker ignored the run of Sean Scannell to his right and opted to shoot, but his effort was weak and was easily saved.

Loft eventually atoned for his earlier miss by levelling the scores in first-half stoppage time, lifting the ball up and over Mafoumbi thanks to the aid of a deflection.

Nick Anderton tried his best to make a last-ditch block, but the Seasiders were punished for being too relaxed and lackadaisical with the ball at the back.

Pool were forced into an early change at the start of the second half, Armand Gnanduillet coming on to replace Hardie who hobbled off after picking up a knock.

Ollie Turton soon followed, replacing Delfouneso in what was a tactical change rather than one forced by injury.

The second half somehow managed to be even worse than the first, the Seasiders looking completely toothless while Carlisle provided the odd threat on the break.

The 216 Pool fans who made the trip were boosted by the appearance of 17-year-old striker Ewan Bange off the bench, the youth-team man making his first competitive appearance for the first team.

Bange’s first job was to stand alongside Armand Gnanduillet in a wall, who he eclipsed in height, as Mafoumbi tipped Nathan Thomas’ free kick over the bar.

The young striker’s eyes must have lit up when he was sent through on goal by Scannell but, with the goal at his mercy, Bange got the ball stuck under his feet and scuffed his effort straight at the keeper.

With eight minutes remaining, the home side ought to have taken the lead when sub Nathan Thomas got in behind Anderton, only to strike the inside of the post with his curling effort.

The Cumbrians did eventually go on to add a second, which their second-half display deserved.

Canice Carroll was the man to find the back of the net, wrongfooting Mafoumbi with a swerving 30-yard effort.

Despite five minutes being added on at the end, Grayson’s side were unable to put the Carlisle backline under any pressure - much to the frustration of the Pool fans in attendance.

TEAMS

Carlisle: Gray, Elliott, Iredale, Carroll, Mellish, Hayden, Scougall, McKirdy (Bridge, Sagaf), Branthwaite, Loft (Thomas), Sorensen

Subs not used: Robinson, Charters, Kerr, Birch

Blackpool: Mafoumbi, Nottingham, Edwards, Anderton, Macdonald, Spearing, Guy, Shaw (Bange), Delfouneso (Turton), Scannell, Hardie (Gnanduillet)

Subs not used: Howard, Heneghan, Tilt, Husband

Referee: Darren Handley

Attendance: 911 (216 Blackpool)