North End lost their first game of pre-season, by the odd goal in seven, in a keenly contested game at Carlisle.
A brace for Jordan Hugill and another for Will Keane weren't enough for North End as a couple of penalties helped the Blues to the win.
The scoring started after 12 minutes when Hugill converted from close range from Kyel Reid’s whipped left wing cross, but the home side reversed the lead with two goals in six minutes as first a Tom Miller close range header was followed by an excellent finish from Jason Kennedy after a one-two.
Hugill then set up Will Keane for an equaliser all before the half hour mark, before the Cumbrian’s skipper Danny Grainger converted from the penalty spot after Bailey Wright was adjudged to have fouled rangy striker Charlie Wyke, giving Keith Curle’s men a half-time lead.
Hugill drew North End level with a break away goal after five minutes of the second half, before Carlisle substitute Alexander McQueen saw red for a late tackle on Ben Davies and then Grainger converted a second penalty in the final ten minutes after a harsh award for what looked like a dive over Jamie Jones by Blues striker Steven Rigg.
North End were again much-changed, with Beckford, Garner and Gallagher all given the night off, alongside 2015 player of the year Paul Huntington and Calum Woods, who picked up a slight niggle at Motherwell the previous Friday.
Greg Cunningham was given his debut after completing his move from Bristol City and 17-year-old full back Clive Smith was also selected on the opposite flank.
It was a wet night at Brunton Park as the Virgin Trains derby got underway, allowing for some slick pacy football from both teams.
North End started brightly with Kyel Reid and Will Keane both testing Dan Hanford in the Carlisle goal before the Lilywhites opened the scoring.
The game’s first goal came after a dozen minutes as a pacy break from the North End box saw Kyel Reid show a clean pair of heals to Tom Miller before whizzing a ball across the six yard box where Jordan Hugill raced in with pace to fire home into the roof of the net under pressure from Grainger.
It could have been two on the 15 minute mark as Will Keane saw a shot blocked by David Atkinson after another excellent break where the ball was again played into the box by Reid 20 yards out.
The home side drew level with their first shot on target of the game. It eventually ended up in the net from a far post header by Tom Miller from cross by Bastien Hery, but this came about after a clearance went straight up in the air in the penalty area and fell for Hery to cross after Charlie Wyke’s intital shot had been cleared off the line by Greg Cunningham on debut.
Almost immediately after kick off North End could have been ahead again. A Reid free kick 20 yards out came off the wall and it looked like a hand had blocked the shot and a penalty should have been awarded, but the ball looped up and over the bar after a poor foul on Hugill to the right of the ‘D’, however, referee Richard Clark saw nothing wrong with the block.
But it was United who got the next goal. An excellent one-touch passing move saw Jason Kennedy exchange a one-two with Jabo Ibehre before sliding a low shot into the bottom right hand corner, Jamie Jones getting a strong hand to the effort, but not enough to divert it wide.
There was little more than 90 seconds that passed before Simon Grayson’s men were back on parity. Jordan Hugill dispossessed Michael Raynes on the left hand touchline and raced 40 yards into the box before pulling back for Keane to slot left footed first time into the bottom left hand corner with Hanford stranded for his second goal on consecutive Tuesdays, following his first for the Club at Southport.
Just past the half hour mark and Hugill steamrollered the Carlisle backline from the half-way line and ploughed into the box; he had options either side, but chose to shoot low, but did not have enough power in the shot and Hanford saved low to his right.
With seven minutes left before the break Bailey Wright was adjudged to have brought down Charlie Wyke on the penalty spot and a penalty was given. Danny Grainger, the Carlisle skipper, stepped up and sent Jones the wrong way, passing into the bottom left hand corner from 18 yards to make it 3-2 at half-time.
It took North End less than five minutes to grab the game’s sixth goal in the second half; Kennedy sold Raynes short at the back and Jordan Hugill robbed the ball just outside the centre circle, racing away, drawing Hanford and firing hard and low under the keeper for his second of the game and North End’s third.
With 24 minutes left, what had been a feisty affair bubbled over when substitute Alexander McQueen was sent off for Carlisle for a horrible late challenge on fellow substitute Ben Davies.
Jordan Hugill had a great opportunity to make it a hat-trick and give North End the lead from the resulting free kick, a long ball to the back post hitting him, rather than the north east born forward directing the ball, eventually pushing it wide of the left hand post.
An excellent move with ten minutes left saw Josh Brownhill exchange passes with three team-mates, before eventually checking back in the box to sell a dummy to two defenders, but Hanford did superbly to block the striker’s efforts from ten yards out.
But up the other end – for the second time in as many games referee Richard Clark gave a second penalty against North End, as he had at Port Vale back in April – this time a very harshly awarded effort against Jamie Jones after substitute Steven Rigg had fallen over the stopper. Grainger again stepped up, clipping the penalty over Jones, as the keeper dived to his left, to put the ten men ahead.
Kyel Reid and another sub Daniel Johnson went very close to levelling matters once again in the final minutes, with both seeing goalbound efforts blocked in the box, but it remained 4-3 in front of almost 2,000 at Brunton Park.
: Hanford, Grainger, Raynes (Archibald-Henville, 83), Atkinson (Thompson, 46), Brough (McQueen, 46), Miller, Joyce (Dicker, 78), Kennedy (Sweeney, 66), Hery (Walker, 43), Wyke (Balanta, 69), Ibehre (Rigg, 80). Subs not used: Gillespie, Asamoah, Osei, Meppen-Walter, Kearns, Hammell.Carlisle United line-up
: Jones, Smith (Johnson, 65), Cunningham (Anderton, 83), Welsh (Davies, 65), Clarke (c), Wright, Little, Kilkenny (Browne, 46), Hugill, Keane (Brownhill, 46), Reid. Subs not used: James, Ryan, Heaton.PNE line-up
: Mr R ClarkReferee