League two: Carlisle bed themselves in

Wycombe Wanderers 1 Carlisle United 1
Click to follow
The Independent Football

The advert along the top of the stand proclaims Dreams as "Britain's leading bed specialists", and they must be good if anybody managed to nod off during a frenetic opening. Tommy Mooney drew a diving save from Anthony Williams with an effort hooked over his shoulder, Nathan Tyson drove across the face of goal and Mike Williamson went close with a header, but it was Carlisle who took a 17th-minute lead.

Until then their attacking imagination had stretched as far as belting long balls forward for Karl Hawley to chase - not that Wycombe looked entirely at ease with that - but the breakthrough came with their first move of intelligence. Chris Billy's ball gave the Spanish left-back Zigor Aranalde room on the left, and from his pull-back Derek Holmes turned to tuck a finish low inside the far post.

John Gorman had responded to a question about his side's promising pre-season form by asking, "What does it all mean?", and Wycombe fans must have been pondering the profundity of their manager's curiously existential reply. Winning tournaments in Ibiza, after all, will mean little in May.

The Chairboys, though, are second favourites to win League Two this season, and, after Williamson had had a shot cleared off the line, Mooney levelled on 37 minutes with a 30-yard curler. Wycombe could easily have been ahead by half-time, as Roger Johnson hit the bar twice in the space of two minutes, first with a 25-yard volley, and then with a diving header.

Half-time broke the siege, and Wycombe struggled to rediscover their rhythm after the break, for all the ease with which Mooney was able to find space behind Carlisle's back four. It was his burst that produced the first chance of the second half, Williams clawing wide his drive from the edge of the box. By then, though, Carlisle were convinced they should have had a penalty when Williamson seemed to handle.

Wycombe then struck the woodwork for the third time with 14 minutes remaining. Kevin Betsy followed up after his initial shot had been blocked, but, with Williams grounded, drove against the post. Joe Burnell then headed over, but Carlisle survived. Some Carlisle fans perhaps thanked divine protection; others, mindful of the stand they were in, probably saw it as something divan.

Comments