Sheffield United’s miserable run of form continued with a 1-0 defeat at Carlisle United.
Victories have been hard to come by for both these teams since League One competition resumed in August with goals also proving in desperately short supply.
United dominated possession during the opening exchanges, caressing the ball across the Brunton Park pitch, but it was Noble who enjoyed the first half chance of the game only to shoot wide from the edge of the box.
Long, returning from European Championship qualifying duty with England under-21s, comfortably gathered Amoo’s drive to the near post soon after.
David Weir, the United manager, insisted beforehand that Carlisle “might do things a little differently” following their decision to place Graham Kavanagh, previously of Sheffield Wednesday, in caretaker charge after parting company with Greg Abbott five days ago.
However, the former Scotland international altered his tactics too, making four changes to the starting eleven beaten at Rotherham last weekend.
One of those, Ironside, saw a 19th minute effort charged down after combining well with Cuvelier.
But it was Baxter, a menacing presence both in midfield and attack, who posed the greatest threat to Carlisle’s defence. Nevertheless United, who saw Collins head over from the Liverpudlian’s 23rd minute corner, had survived a loud penalty appeal moments earlier when Long and Guy collided in the box.
Kavanagh threw his water bottle to the turf in disgust.
While Baxter and Cuvelier attempted to pick apart the hosts’ rearguard, so Amoo had set about testing United’s back four. The former Liverpool trainee escaped Hill’s clutches in the 31st minute but found his route to goal blocked by Collins.
McGinn was inches away from connecting with McMahon’s cross while Carlisle were forced to make a substitution in the 34th minute when Townsend replaced a very groggy Guy.
O’Hanlon’s last ditch intervention prevented Ironside from being sent clean through by Baxter’s prodded pass while McGinn saw a shot deflected behind for a corner. Likewise Robinson at the other end of the field.
Cuvelier was unfortunate not to earn a free-kick in a promising position when, less than three minutes after the re-start, Robinson handled the ball as they jostled for possession towards the touchline.
Then, in the 52nd, Maguire was cautioned for fouling Robson when he launched a dangerous counter attack.
That set in motion the chain of events which ended with Carlisle taking a 54th minute lead.
Long saved the 28-year-old’s free-kick but, from the resulting corner, ROBSON had better luck with a header from close-range.
That was the cue for Weir to make a double change, with Ironside and McGinn making way for Taylor and McFadzean just past the hour.
The latter was promptly cautioned for a foul on McSweeney as tempers began to fray.
It was a run from Taylor which created the space for McMahon to send a shot flashing just beyond Gillespie’s far post.
Berrett joined McFadzean in the referee’s notebook after tangling with Doyle.
In the 72nd minute, United should have drawn level but, not for the first time this term, their lack of a cutting edge in front of goal cost them dear.
A lovely interchange inviolving Taylor and Baxter released McFadzean but Westlake could not turn home his low drive across the six yard box.
Sixty seconds later, another McFadzean cross found Doyle lurking in space on the penalty spot but the United captain’s first time attempt flew over the crossbar.
Weir, who turned away in a mixture of anguish and frustration, responded by introducing Bunn, in the 76th minute, at Westlake’s expense.
Likewise when Maguire failed to pick out a man after seconds earlier doing well to wrestle possession deep inside Carlisle territory.
With eight minutes of normal time remaining, Carlisle swapped Miller for Beck moments after their caption was booked for a ridiculous trip on the United centre-half.
Kavanagh made his third and final change in the 87th minute when Noble made way for Potts. Once again, United were full of good intentions, but lacked the cutting edge to take something from the game.