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Match Reports

Carlisle United 3 Rovers 1

Danny Graham scores again, but Rovers' pre-season preparations end in defeat

28 July 2017

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Danny Graham scored his fifth goal in six games, as Rovers rounded off their pre-season preparations with a 3-1 defeat away to Carlisle United.

The former Carlisle striker, who had previously netted in the victories over Barrow, York City, Morecambe and Grimsby Town, continued his purple patch in front of goal with a predatory first-half finish.

Despite starting well, Rovers fell behind on 12 minutes when Ryan Nyambe put through his own net after good work from Nicky Adams down the right.

Bradley Dack then had a goal ruled out for offside, before Graham equalised on 17 minutes, firing past the Carlisle keeper at the second attempt.

In an entertaining and end-to-end first half, the hosts went into the break in front, as Reggie Lambe converted Jamie Devitt's cross from close range.

After the interval, David Raya made a superb save to deny Lambe his second, before substitute Liam Feeney rattled the woodwork.

Rovers ought to have grabbed an equaliser seven minutes from time, but Dack poked the ball just the wrong side of the post after a surging run from Dominic Samuel.

And as the visitors pushed bodies forward late on, Carlisle struck on the break, with a trialist setting up Shaun Miller for a stoppage-time third.

Despite the defeat, manager Tony Mowbray will have been pleased with the workout and the number of chances created, as his side get set for the big kick-off at Southend next weekend.

Rovers were dealt a double injury blow ahead of the game, with the news that Charlie Mulgrew and Ben Gladwin wouldn't be risked due to minor niggles picked up in training.

The duo joined Craig Conway, Darragh Lenihan and Scott Wharton on the sidelines, meaning Ryan Nyambe partnered Elliott Ward and Derrick Williams in a reshuffled back three, with Paul Caddis and Elliott Bennett as wing-backs.

There was good news over Corry Evans, who returned to the team after recovering from an ankle knock, whilst Graham captained the side on his return to his former club.

The 31-year-old striker, who played over 100 games for the Cumbrians earlier in his career, was joined by new signing Samuel in attack.

Rovers started brightly in the early evening sunshine, creating the game's first effort at goal inside three minutes. Caddis found Dack in space down the right, he cut the ball back to Samuel, who blazed over the bar from 15 yards out.

Dack was at the heart of everything for Rovers early on, again finding space out wide, but his cross was just too high for Graham. Then, moments later, he lofted a lovely return ball over the top to Samuel, who miscued his kick.

The visitors threatened again on eight minutes, as Caddis delivered a pin-point cross from the right, Graham got in between the two defenders and his header had to be palmed around the post.

However, with virtually their first foray forward, Carlisle opened the scoring on 12 minutes. Adams got in behind the Rovers defence down the right and his drilled centre was inadvertently put through his own net by the unfortunate Nyambe.

Rovers almost made an immediate reply on the quarter-hour mark when Bennett crossed from the right, Graham chested the ball into the path of Dack, who finished coolly under Jack Bonham, but he was denied his second goal of pre-season by the linesman's flag.

However, Rovers didn't have to wait long, as they struck a deserved leveller just two minutes later. Evans played a lovely through pass to Bennett, who cut the ball back to Graham. His initial shot was saved, but he was on hand to fire home the rebound.

Carlisle responded well and were enjoying plenty of possession, as Jamie Devitt drilled a 25-yard shot not too far wide on 18 minutes, before Tom Miller had a header comfortably saved by Raya just past the half-hour mark.

The next big chance fell Rovers' way, following a well-worked move. Graham's clever back-flick found Dack, he lifted a lovely ball over the top to Samuel, who held off his marker, before seeing his shot superbly saved by Bonham low to his left.

However, the next goal of the half went the host's way on 41 minutes. Hallam Hope looked to be offside as he latched onto a ball over the top. He played in Devitt to his left on the overlap and his drilled cross was volleyed home by Lambe from a couple of yards out.

The final act of the half saw Caddis cross from the right, but Graham was unable to direct his header on target.

Carlisle changed their keeper at half-time, but it was Spanish stopper Raya who came to Rovers' rescue on 57 minutes. Hope was played clean through on goal, before checking back inside and teeing up Lambe, but Raya came rushing out to make a superb smothering save.

Rovers made a double change on 65 minutes, as goalscorer Graham and midfielder Evans made way for Feeney and Peter Whittingham, and both new arrivals came close to finding an equaliser soon after.

On 73 minutes, Dack found Bennett in space down the right, he picked out Feeney in the middle, but his first-time shot came crashing back off the crossbar.

Moments later, fellow sub Whittingam went within a whisker, as his 25-yard strike whistled inches over, before Feeney again tried his luck from a similar range, but the ball sailed high over the bar.

On 79 minutes, Richie Bennett set the ball back to Lambe, whose curling effort was comfortably caught by Raya.

Rovers ended the match strongly and ought to have levelled seven minutes from time. Samuel went on a surginf run through the centre, before playing in Dack, but his stabbed effort goalwards went agonisingly wide of the post.

Richie Smallwood then fired a dipping volley from distance narrowly over, as Rovers just couldn't grab the second goal their display deserved.

With Rovers throwing caution to the wind in the closing stages, Carlisle added a third on the break. In the 91st minute, a trialist teed up Shaun Miller, who had time to pick out the far corner from close range.

Mowbray's men now have a full week at Brockhall to put the final preparations in place ahead of the season opener away to Southend on Saturday August 5th.

CARLISLE UNITED: Bonham (Bacon 46), T. Miller, Grainger, Joyce (Trialist 85), Liddle (Ellis 69), Parkes (S. Miller 70), Jones, Hope (Bennett 70), Adams (Egan 75), Devitt (Nabi 69), Lambe (Holt 80).
Subs not used: Salkeld.

Goals: Nyambe OG (12), Lambe (41), S. Miller (90+1)

ROVERS: Raya, Caddis, Nyambe, Ward, Williams, Smallwood, Evans (Whittingham 65), Bennett, Dack, Samuel, Graham (Feeney 65).
Subs not used: Fisher, Platt, Doyle, Tomlinson, Rankin-Costello, Nuttall.

Goals: Graham (17)

Attendance: 1,816 (312 Rovers fans)

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