Championship side Bristol City were unceremoniously dumped out of the Carling Cup with a 2-0 home defeat to League One strugglers Carlisle.
As if the result wasn’t bad enough for the home supporters, still smarting from the spineless weekend performance over the bridge at Cardiff, City welcomed back several first teamers for the visit of the Cumbrians.
Cole Skuse and Louis Carey recovered from their calf injuries to start in defence whilst promising full-back Christian Ribeiro started at right wing-back. There were also a starts for Gavin Williams in attacking midfield and John Akinde up front.
The home side started brightly, Ribeiro linking up with Danny Haynes down the right edge of the box with Haynes whipping in a beauty of a cross for Akinde to glaringly head over the bar on 2 minutes.
But it was Carlisle who took control there after. Paul Thirlwell produced a glorious chance for centre-half David Raven to spoon over the bar on 19.
The game’s best chance fell to Haynes on 26.
Carlisle playing a high line, lost a header to Akinde on the half-way line. His flick-on fed Haynes who rolled his marker and found himself one-on-one with the keeper.
Instead of galloping clear and opening his account in a City shirt, Haynes could only dawdle on the ball and allow Danny Livesy to get back and challenge with the goal at his mercy.
It’s fast becoming a frustrating trait of the ex-Ipswich forward who seems to be in the habit of doing the hard work but lacking any sort of finesse in front of goal.
Despite that, City weren’t playing at all well.
Lee Johnson was caught in possession too many times whilst Gavin Williams was guilty of squandering the ball on several occasions as the visitors exuded their influence on the game.
On-loan Chelsea midfielder Tom Taiwo had looked to have given Carlisle the lead with a curling effort on 42 minutes that was unlucky to cannon off the outside of the post with the keeper well and truly beaten.
It was a dire first half performance from the Robins and boss Gary Johnson changed the system to a 4-4-2, despite not having the personnel on the pitch to make it work. On came Ivan Sproule on the right in place of McAllister with Fontaine moving to left-back.
But the Cumbrians continued in the same vein as ex-City starlet Joe Anyinsah was unlucky not see his long range over fly a cat’s whisker over the bar.
Then came the game’s opening goal on the hour mark. Matty Robson picked up the ball on the left wing, outpaced Ribeiro and whipped in a perfect ball for Scott Dobie to prod home from 12 yards.
It should have proved a wake up call for Gary Johnson and his side who were again displaying no passion or fight for the cause.
Bewilderingly, Johnson`s next move was to bring on Jamie McCombe – up front as a striker! It frustrated many in the crowd as McCombe resembled Bambi on ice trying to lead the line.
Not surprisingly, the move failed to knock Carlisle out of their stride and they duly got the second goal their play deserved on 76.
Anyinsah wriggled away from Cole Skuse on the right and cut inside makeshift centre-half Cole Skuse to tee up substitute Gary Madine with the simplest of tasks of beating Gerken from the just inside the box.
City had absolutely nothing to offer as an attacking force and looked totally unbalanced as they tried to turn it around and make the Third Round for the first time in 20 years.
Credit to Carlisle, who in qualifying for the Third Round for the first time in 34 years, ran out clear and easy winners at Ashton Gate. This defeat should set the alarm bells ringing for City in what looks to be a tough season ahead for the Robins.
Dean Gerken 5
Had no chance with either goal and didn’t really have anything to do asides from that. Kicking and organisation of his defence was poor though.
Christian Ribeiro 6
Was at fault for the second goal by getting skinned by the left-winger but was a positive going forward. Looked confident on the ball and wasn’t afraid to get crosses in from good, wide areas.
Jamie McAllister 5
Subbed at half-time so that City could change the shape but didn’t have any sort of impact on the game. He was one who should’ve been looking to put in a performance after Cardiff but was found wanting again.
Liam Fontaine 6
Not his best game but was shifted around and ended up playing three positions in the game, which isn’t ideal. Defended well though when in that position.
Louis Carey 6
Good to see him come back as he needed time on the pitch but not up to his usual high standards. Saying that though, he was probably our best player on the night.
Cole Skuse 5
He isn’t a centre-half and the sooner Johnson realises that, the better! Should’ve done better with the second goal and his passing radar was off. Quite simply, he should be in a holding midfield role or not in the team.
Marvin Elliott 5
Another quiet game from Marv. Whether speculation of the Wigan interest has unsettled him, nobody knows but he wasn’t at his marauding best for the second game in a row.
Lee Johnson 6
Was very in the first half but sorted it out in the second. Saw him willing to tackle and battle in the second half whilst he was passing the ball well, which is a lot better than some of his team-mates.
Gavin Williams 5
Started brightly in behind the front two but faded badly. Was switched to left-wing after half-time and lost his rhythm. Passes went astray all the time and he should’ve been subbed earlier.
John Akinde 6
Tough night for Big John to make an impact. Had one good chance in the opening stages but was used as a reason to hump the ball long thereafter. Won the occasional flick on and showed the odd glimpse of pace and power but still very raw.
Danny Haynes 4
I feel like I’ll be saying this a lot about Haynes but he has all the pace and no goalscoring instinct. Haven’t been impressed at all so far as he’s just so wasteful in front of goal.
Ivan Sproule 5
Tried to get City going on the right but had his head down for most of it. On occasions when he did get into good positions, he just wasted the ball. Baffles me how he got a new contract.
Jamie McCombe 4
As stated in the match report, he resembled Bambi on ice when he came on but that wasn’t his fault as he isn’t a striker!
Not enough time to make an impression but at least provided a bit of width down the left, as City were relying on Liam Fontaine to provide most of it in the second half.
Gary Johnson – 2/10
Got it hopelessly wrong for the second game in a row. Tactically outclassed by a rookie manager, didn’t pick a system that fitted the players he had at his disposal and clearly couldn’t motivate the boys after the Cardiff debacle. I suspect he needs to sort this out to avoid the knives coming out for him soon.
Greg Abbott – 7/10
The young manager in his first full season outwitted, out-thought and out-battled his counterpart. He had a plan and committed players to the cause. Made good substitutions that saw them through to the next round.
Too Many Square Pegs in Round Holes
City were absolutely awful tonight and put in a performance that must rank among the worst I`ve seen in around a decade.
Far too many players were being played out of position – Skuse at centre-back, McCombe up front – which made for a disjointed team and Johnson didn`t have a plan B to turn to but, strangely enough, that isn`t the issue that concerns me most.
Sunday`s humiliating defeat in the Severnside derby should have ensured both the players and management were sufficiently motivated to put the record straight against Carlisle.
But Johnson was keen to stress after the pathetic performance against Cardiff that it`s how we respond to defeat that really matters.
Well, on this showing, we are all in for a very long season indeed and Johnson needs to sort it out? FAST!
Not Enough Clubs in the Bag
Selling McIndoe wasn`t a bad decision but not replacing him with another left-winger is.
We looked clueless when Johnson mixed it up to 4-4-2 in the second half as we simply didn`t have to players to do it.
He seems to have put all his eggs in the 3-4-1-2 basket but doesn`t have a plan B to turn to when things aren`t going well.