FULL TIME: SHEFFIELD UNITED 1 CARLISLE 0

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SHEFFIELD UNITED striker Ched Evans kept on the scoring trail by giving the side victory over Carlisle at Bramall Lane.

After a week dominated by financial facts and figures, not to mention the excitement caused by confirmation that James Beattie is now training at Bramall Lane, Sheffield United breathed a sigh of relief when the time came to actually play some football.

Their return to League One action for the first time since Guy Fawkes Night got off to a bright start courtesy of Evans’ well-taken strike.

Cresswell’s bravery immediately caused Carlisle a problem and won United a second minute corner which was swept in by Quinn.

The striker received one almighty whack as he challenged his marker for Collins’ long punt forward but Williamson shot over when the resulting set piece was only half-cleared.

Cresswell, who moments earlier had been rubbing his skull furiously, recovered to beat Livesey to another direct pass but was adjudged to have handled.

Whatever troubles United are experiencing at present - and accounts which revealed losses of over £13m for the past financial year do not make pleasant reading - they pale into insignificance compared to those endured by the visitors from Cumbria.

Despite enjoying only one top-flight campaign in the past 60 years, they slipped out of the Football League altogether less than a decade ago before making an immediate return from the Conference.

The early action continued to ebb towards the impressive travelling support massed behind Collin’s goal.

Williamson saw a fierce 25 yard effort palmed unconvincingly on to the post with Cresswell scooping over on the rebound.

As the pressure grew, so did United’s corner count with Quinn enjoying another opportunity to test Carlisle’s resolve but, on this occasion, Collin collected in much more assured fashion.

Berrett, a tricky customer in advanced positions, lulled United’s flame-haired midfielder in to conceding a ninth minute free-kick but the delivery was poor.

Quinn has been a marked man at times this season and, in the 18th minute, Berrett became the first player to be booked for scything him to the ground.

Two minutes later, United became the first team to score.

Cresswell flicked on Williamson’s corner and although Maguire threw himself into the mix, EVANS was on hand to power home from close-range.

Only Michalik’s perfectly timed tackle prevented him from doubling both his tally and United’s lead soon after following Quinn’s clipped pass.

Half-time:

United 1 Carlisle 0

Carlisle made their first substitution at the start of the second half with Murphy replacing Livesey but United again started more brightly with Cresswell coming within a whisker of beating the offside trap following Lowton’s 47th minute cross.

Evans immediately responded with a clever back flick which only just evaded his strike partner but Carlisle’s next scare was entirely self-inflicted with Robson dwelling too long on the ball.

As Beattie watched the action unfold from the directors’ box, Williamson left the pitch in the 51st minute after taking a blow to a knee with Flynn entering the fray.

Carlisle, to their credit, continued to look cavalier.

Enjoying less of the ball and more often than not pegged back in terms of territory, Zoko’s introduction handed them both a fresh pair of legs and sense of purpose.

With 20 minutes remaining, United spurned an opportunity to make the game safe when Cresswell missed a penalty. Doyle seized possession and sent Flynn clear. Having invited Ribeiro to challenge him on the edge of the box, the Carlisle defender had his head in his hands when referee Gibbs pointed to the spot. But Cresswell’s spot-kick was poor and Collin scrambled in clear. The United attacker had covered plenty of ground today and it was certainly a tired attempt.

Miller came within inches of grabbing an equaliser.

For a full report, plus match pix, see the Green’Un.

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