CARLISLE produced a stunning second-half fightback to end Wednesday’s unbeaten run after six matches and make it an unhappy return to Brunton Park for Ben Marshall and the red-carded Gary Madine.
Marshall struck a sublime goal and the Owls could have led by more than 1-0 at half time after a flurry of stoppage time chances.
But the home team conjured up a burst of three goals in 14th minutes, and in the midst of that Madine received his fifth booking of the season for handball and was guaranteed to be banned for Saturday’s trip to Wycombe.
Worse followed when the striker collected a second yellow card in the 81st minute for a foot up against defender James Tavernier and was sent off.
Late drama saw Rob Jones head home and Ryan Lowe drag his shot across goal when he had the chance of an equaliser in the last of four added minutes.
Stung by a 4-0 thrashing at Charlton on Saturday, Carlisle boss Greg Abbott promised an improved show from his side. Wednesday were slit open by one early move and were grateful when midfielder Tom Taiwo drove the final ball wastefully across goal.
Stephen Bywater had not had a save to make in his first five games. But his moment came in the 30th minute. The loan keeper sprang to his left to push away a 25-yard shot from midfield man James Berrett. A deflection off Jones in the Wednesday box spelt trouble; a great tackle from Lewis Buxton thwarted Miller, and wide man Rory Loy blazed the resulting chance wide.
Then came quality from Marshall. He cut in from the right and from 20 yards whipped a left-foot shot into Adam Collin’s bottom right-hand corner. A minute later Bywater was forced to make a second save as he turned a ferocious 25-yard strike from right back Tavernier over the bar. But three minutes after that it could have been 2-0: James O’Connor’s cross was headed by Chris O’Grady to Chris Lines and his header went straight at the keeper.
Three times Wednesday went close during first-half stoppage time: a Lines shot and a Semedo header were cleared in the goalmouth, and Collin touched an O’Grady header over the bar after a corner by Marshall.
But within five minutes of the restart Carlisle were right back in it. Centre back Danny Livesey had a free header from a right-wing cross; Bywater went down to make a fine save but the ball ran to Miller, who tapped home. Madine had been kept quiet so far but his 53rd minute shot from a Marshall corner was heading for the top corner until Collin turned it wide.
Three minutes after that Wednesday’s defending was less than secure as Loy cleverly made space for a shot from just inside the box and smashed it past Bywater.
It was turning into an miserable night for Madine: he received his booking in the 57th minute then saw a header go wide from a Marshall corner.
Gary Megson resorted to a double substituion, replacing O’Grady with Ryan Lowe, and O’Connor with Jermaine Johnson just after the midfielder had been booked.
But instead of getting back in the game, the Owls conceded what looked like a killer goal four minutes later. Once again their defending was all at sea and this time it was Liam Noble with the finish.
It was frustration for the Owls and Madine’s foul on Tavernier earned his second booking. “Where’s your goal machine?” taunted home fans as the 11-goal striker left the pitch. Rob Jones took over the role with a late header into the bottom corner from a Marshall cross.
That appeared to be a consolation, but Wednesday came close in injury time as Lowe got free on the right but his shot went past the far post.
CARLISLE (4-5-1): Collin 7; Tavernier 8, Michalik 6, Livesey 6, Murphy 6; McGovern 6, Taiwo 7, Berrett 7, Noble 7, Loy 7; Miller 7. Unused subs: Zoko, Curran, Helan, Gillespie, O’Halloran.
OWLS (4-4-2): Bywater 8; Buxton 6, Batth 6, Jones 7, Bennett 6; Marshall 7, Semedo 6, Lines 7, O’Connor 6 (J Johnson 60, 6); O’Grady 6 (Lowe 60, 6), Madine 6. Unused subs: Prutton, Palmer, O’Donnell.
Bookings: Carlisle: Michalik, Noble. Owls: Jones, Madine, O’Connor, Lines, Johnson. Sending-off: Madine.