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Kick off 13:30 (UK)

29 November 2020 Venue Brunton Park Attendance

Kick off 13:30 (UK)

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Match Reports

REPORT | Carlisle United 1 Rovers 2

29 November 2020

Two goals in eight first-half minutes from skipper Ben Whiteman helped Rovers into the draw for the third round of the Emirates FA Cup after a 2-1 win away at Carlisle United.

Jon Mellish set up a tense finish 13 minutes from time to halve the deficit, but Rovers managed to hold on against their Sky Bet League Two hosts to progress into round three for the first time since the 2018/19 season.

Darren Moore made two changes from the side that came from behind to beat Blackpool on Tuesday night in Sky Bet League One, with Taylor Richards and Danny Amos coming into replace James Coppinger who was on the bench and Cameron John who missed out altogether.

There was also a place on the bench for returning duo Madger Gomes and Arsenal loanee Tyreece John-Jules who were both making a comeback of their own from injury.

It was a cagey opening few minutes to the game as both sides looked to get an early foothold in the match, with Rovers putting pressure on both flanks.

A low cross from the left by Amos caused problems for the home defence, eventually being sliced away by Aaron Hayden before Fejiri Okenabirhie or Matt Smith could make a connection.

The hosts’ first chance came 19 minutes in as a break forward by Gime Toure saw the ball fall to Joe Riley 20 yards out from goal, though he could only sweep his right-footed effort wide from the edge of the box.

A long throw then caused huge problems for the Rovers defence, with Josh Kayode launching the ball into the area and managing to find an unmarked Mellish in the six-yard box.

The in-form Carlisle man though was unable to divert his effort on target however, firing well over in the end from six yards out.

The game did start to open up as the first half reached the half-way mark, with efforts down one end from Okenabirhie and then Smith once again matched up by another shot from the edge of the box through the hosts, with Mellish forcing Joe Lumley into a smart save to push the ball away from danger.

A break through the middle by centre-back Tom Anderson saw Rovers create their next big chance, with the Rovers’ No. 4 charging through before feeding Okenabirhie who shot just wide from inside the box.

Rovers took the lead on 31 minutes with a fantastic bit of build-up play seeing them unlock the Carlisle defence.

Reece James’ nifty bit of footwork saw him find Smith on the edge of the box, and in turn the Manchester City loanee found his captain Whiteman alongside him 18 yards out.

The skipper was left unmarked on the edge of the area and struck a lovely curling effort low into the corner beyond the diving Paul Farman to put his side in front.

And it was two for Rovers, and for the skipper, six minutes before the break with another curling effort beating the despairing dive of Farman.

Whiteman picked it up 25 yards out and sent an almost identical shot on goal into the corner to double the lead, despite the best efforts of Farman who got the faintest of touches on the ball.

Rovers looked to pick up from where they left off after the interval, with James floating a ball in from the left-hand side up towards Okenabirhie who glanced a header just wide from around eight yards out.

It didn’t all go Rovers way though as Kayode and Omari Patrick worked the ball into some space together, with the latter forcing QPR loanee Lumley into another save after a stinging effort from 20 yards out, before firing wide from a similar range moments later.

Kayode’s long throws were again causing Rovers problems as another launched ball in fell this time at the feet of Riley who took a touch on the edge of the area before firing just over the bar.

Down the other end, Farman was again scrambling across to try and prevent Sims from making it 3-0, with the winger firing just wide of the post from the edge of the area after a burst down the right from Smith.

Lumley was also being kept busy in the Rovers goal, being alert to a Toure effort from close range after he was found in the area by the lively Patrick, before denying Rhys Bennett following a Carlisle corner that was met in the centre by the Blues’ centre back.

However from the resulting set-piece the hosts did get themselves back in the game, with Lumley saving the initial header from Hayden, but only pushing the ball into the path of Mellish who reacted quickest to fire into the roof of the net first time.

Hayden was thrown forward deep into added time as the hosts searched for an equaliser to force an extra 30 minutes, heading into the path of substitute Gavin Reilly, though he could only fire well over.

Rovers did manage to see out the late pressure from the hosts though and progressed through to the third round of the Emirates FA Cup for the first time in two seasons, and they will now have to see who awaits them in the hat for the next stage.

Rovers will be ball No. 61 in Monday night’s Emirates FA Cup third round draw, which will be live on the BBC and on BT Sport from around 7:10pm.

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