For the third home game in a row, Reds shipped three goals to complete a hat-trick of pre-season defeats but Danny Grainger was quite upbeat after this performance, against the team he proudly served until 2019.
The long list of trialists and Development Squad members had been whittled down and the starting XI wasn’t a million miles from the probable line-up come August.
And, as the pink-faced spectators sun-bathed on the Derwent End, a total of thirty nine players contributed to ninety minutes of decent entertainment.
From a Workington perspective there were several good individual contributions in a commendable team display whilst the United chiefs are probably thinking there is still room for improvement.
Workington kicked-off after the four-figure crowd had paid due respect to the late Clive Middlemass with a minute of applause. He would have been humbled by that gesture but he would have enjoyed the occasion too.
They competed well against Paul Simpson’s side and Conor Tinnion’s early free kick, although comfortably dealt with by Tomas Holy, gave them an early fillip. That early confidence might have been nipped in the bud after Carlisle’s eleventh minute opener but it wasn’t.
Jamie Devitt, who finds himself in the unusual situation of trialling for the Blues after playing over a century of games for them, had a part to play in the opening goal. His cross towards the far post was met by Ryan Edmondson but his downward header was saved as Jim Atkinson reacted smartly.
But the ’keeper failed to hang on to the ball and the ex. Leeds front man converted the rebound.
Reds continued to give a good account of themselves after that blow but there was no cutting edge to the few half chances they created.
United’s second goal effectively sealed the victory in the twenty ninth minute. Callum Guy released Edmondson down the inside right channel and the striker thumped the ball past Atkinson from the edge of the area.
Dav Symington, who scored for United in this regular pre-season gathering ten years ago, had two attempts to get Reds back in contention. The weaker shot of the two was comfortably saved by the giant Holy, the other was well struck but way off target.
United almost made it three in the early seconds after the break. Guy’s audacious shot from forty five yards struck the upright with Atkinson beaten.
The visitors introduced nine substitutes on the hour mark whilst Reds’ replacements were more sporadically drip-fed into the action. It killed the tempo of the contest but gave valuable game time to the younger members of both squads.
Kai Nugent had a couple of opportunities but the first was deflected wide for a corner whilst the other produced a routine stop from Atkinson.
Reds best chance of a consolation goal fell to another ex. Blue, Liam Lightfoot. He met Ben Hughes’ cross from the left but guided his free header just over the crossbar.
In the final minute, Carlisle were credited with a third goal following a corner. Morgan Feeney and Reds’ trialist challenged for the ball at the far post and it was the latter who got the final touch for an unavoidable own-goal.
That was harsh on the west Cumbrians but didn’t tarnish a good shift in the afternoon sun.
Workington: Atkinson (Paden-Gale, 87), Clarke (Trialist, 76), Birch, Wordsworth, Lightfoot, Leslie (Trialist, 76), Symington (Allison, 63), Carroll (Burns, 87), Reilly (Jerome, 68), Hughes, Tinnion (Howarth, 87).
Carlisle United: Holy (Breeze, 61), Barclay (Feeney, 61), Whelan, Kilsby (Mellish, 61), Ellis (Carr, 61), Guy (Moxon, 61), Devitt (Dickenson, 61), Armer (Bell, 61), Gibson (Nugent, 61), Sho-Silva (Hilton, 61), Edmondson (Bollado, 46).
Referee: Anthony Backhouse, Brampton