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Exeter City 2 - 1 Carlisle United | Post Match Review | BlueArmyBlog | A Carlisle United Blog

Updated: Jan 9

Another frustrating day for The Blues as we succumbed to our 9th defeat in 13 games on the road.

The starting lineup produced a couple of changes, Whelan was in for Barclay, Neal in for Moxon and Armstrong in for Garner. The shape was the same as the win Vs Port Vale with a 3-5-2. Armstrong and Neal making their debuts for The Blues. I was really feeling positive, even though I fancied Garner and Armstrong to start up front together. Exeter's form was as bad as ours, and I was hoping we could capitalise on good performance and result Vs Port Vale.

We didn't start the game very well. The first 15 minutes was all Exeter. They managed to get 2 shots off in the first minute which aren't shown on the extended highlights, one from Harris their new loan signing and one from Atichison, maybe it's because they were both blocked why they weren't on the highlights. Harris was looking lively, and Exeter were knocking the ball around well. They didn't look like a team with only 3 points above us.

We came into the game a little bit more, and on 22 minutes we had the best chance of the half. Exeter were playing out from the back and one of their players slipped, the ball fell to Gibson who fed Maguire. He took on his man on the outside, hit a left-foot shot, and the keeper made a simple save. FotMob had it as a 21% chance, however, I think Maguire took the wrong option. Gibson was unmarked at the back post, Charters was on the penalty spot and Armstrong was attacking the front post. If Maguire had managed to pass to one of those players I think they would have had an even better chance. We must score from these positions if we want to stay up.

We struggled to keep hold of the ball and control the game, however, for the rest of the first half Exter didn't create any decent chances, I thought we defended in an acceptable manner. We did have another great opportunity for Emmanuel. Gibson threaded him in after a throw-in down the line was knocked inside. Emmanuel was in a great position just outside the box, however, his first touch was woeful, and took him towards the corner flag rather than the goal. The shot he got off was not classed as a good opportunity, but if his first touch had been towards goal, it would have been a good chance.

At half-time, while we hadn't had much of the ball, the game was in a fairly even state. Maguire had missed the only big and best chance of the half.

I thought if Simmo could rally the troops and we could settle into some more possession we could win this game in the second half.

Like the first half, we started the 2nd half poorly. There was a double chance for Atichison and Harris on 51 minutes after Mellish pushed out his hole, didn't win the first contact and then miss controlled when the ball came loose. Then on 57 minutes came their first goal. Exeter were passing nicely around their midfield when a ball was played to Harris in the right channel. His cross was blocked by Lavelle, and the ball spilled out to the end of the box where Cole slotted home nicely. Unfortunately, Gibson didn't track the runner and stay goal side. His initial positioning was good when Harris had been played into the right-hand channel, he was goal side of the number 12, Cole.

A second or two later and it's too late. Cole gets in front and slots it home.

You can completely understand Simmo's recent comments on the media. Gibson is our most creative player, however, you can't justify his inclusion on occasions when he either can track a runner or loses the ball in the wrong part of the pitch. I don't expect him to start against Oxford, unfortunately.

So, that was us behind again in the game. Out of the 26 league games this season, we have conceded first in 22 games. We've had one clean sheet (Shrewsbury at home), and scored first against Fleetwood twice (h&a), Shrewsbury (h), and Lincoln (a). That needs to change if we're going to stay up.

We changed our shape and pushed Mellish into midfield and had a few speculative chances, but it was at 77 minutes where Sonny Cox put Exeter 2-0 up with a tap in following a shot off the post from Atichison.

Once again it is suspect defending from Carlisle. It may be a symptom of changing the shape as Lavelle, Whelan (now playing LCB), and Neal are all sucked towards Atichison when he hits the shot from outside the box. The back four are all over the place and there's a massive gap between Emmanuel and Lavelle.

When the ball rebounds off the post, there are two Exeter forwards closer to it than a Carlisle player. Basic stuff.

Going 2-0 with 13 minutes plus injury time to get, it felt like the game was over based on the way we had played throughout. We did 'wake up' a bit, but it felt like it was too little too late.

Armstrong hit the post on 84 minutes with a 40% chance after a nice move by us with some build-up down the left, a cross in with a side-foot volley on his right boot inside the six-yard box. A minute later on 85 minutes, Armstrong had another good chance after Neal whipped in a low cross to the front post and Armstrong had the 28% chance blocked, which resulted in a corner. From the corner, we scored from Butterworth's low drive on his right foot on the half volley after the initial ball in was cleared. It was a great finish by Butterworth. He had another shot from outside the box after a nice chest down and volley round the corner from Garner to him, but it was too late and the game petered out.

After we went 2-0 down we created 0.78xG in 11 minutes. Game state comes into play here as Exeter naturally dropped off, however, Simmo really needs to try and extract the mentality they showed once they went 2-0. It shows in a sense we are capable.

Things are starting to get tight now. People are quoting the number of games left, but, we need a massive change in form as 1 win and 3 draws away all season is nowhere near enough.

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