18 March 2023

Carlisle boss Paul Simpson picks the positives from draw with Stevenage

18 March 2023

Paul Simpson saw Carlisle fall out of the League Two automatic promotion places but insisted it was a point won rather than two dropped in their goalless draw with second-placed Stevenage.

Yet Simpson believes several key decisions went against his side that might have tipped the outcome the Cumbrians’ way.

First-half appeals for a penalty and a second-half call for a red card were rejected by referee Tom Reeves.

Simpson, who was aiming for a fifth straight win, insisted a challenge that almost took Paul Huntington’s shirt off the defender’s back should have been a spot-kick.

The United chief also felt Dan Sweeney should have been sent off for a tackle on substitute Ryan Edmondson that earned the defender just a yellow card.

While the decisions suitably stirred Carlisle’s third-largest home attendance of the season, there was little outstanding goalmouth action to excite the 8,029 crowd.

“They (Stevenage) moaned through the game he was a home referee,” said Simpson. “But there were two big calls I think he made a mistake with.

“Sweeney pulls the shirt over Paul Huntington’s head. The referee makes a gesture Hunts was all over him.

“But he did nothing wrong except try to get the ball. To me that was a penalty.”

Simpson also said Sweeney should have been dismissed for the tackle on Edmondson as the striker ran onto Callum Guy’s pass.

“Ryan is into the box one on one with the keeper and gets brought down. That is a red card, there is no debate,” added Simpson.

“I am not saying had we got them we would have gone on and won the game but it gave us a better chance. But I don’t think it is two points dropped, it’s one more than we had before the game.”

Joe Garner had the ball in the net after 27 minutes but what would have been only his second goal since moving to Brunton Park was disallowed for offside against skipper Morgan Feeney.

There was always an undercurrent of tetchiness between the teams. So, it was no surprise when respective captains Feeney and Carl Piergianni were booked for a back-post flare-up.

Stevenage boss Steve Evans described his team’s performance as “excellent.”

He said: “We restricted a team who have won four on the bounce to zero chances.

“We were the team trying to win it at the end. But it is a point on the road and we will take it.”

Unsurprisingly, Evans also had an opinion on the referee’s performance.

“It was 100 per cent the correct decision,” he said of the challenge on Edmondson.

“There were two covering defenders and I was happy to hear the fourth official instantly say the striker’s touch took him away from goal.

“If you want a story – the head butt on Piergianni should have been a straight red. They both went nose to nose but one lifted his head back in.

“It’s not a smash but if anyone puts a head in you call the referee in or the police.”

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