Carlisle keeper Bradley breaks Town hearts

CARLISLE City keeper Adam Bradley left Blyth Town’s battling players with their heads in their hands as he pulled off a string of stunning saves in extra time – including two from the penalty spot in Saturday’s Northern Alliance Kicks Leisure George Dobbins League Cup second round.

Bradley was on the books at Carlisle United as a youth and was so pumped after pulling off his second spot-kick save to deny Craig Hopwood, he was booked for his celebrations.

The defeat was tough luck on Town, who were quick to close down the hosts and deny them the space to play in midfield, while posing a constant threat on the break themselves with the quick and skilful Kyle Devlin.

They were just sixty seconds from going into Round Three themselves when they had a player unluckily sent-off for kicking the ball away.

And they paid the price as Ian Cumersky’s delivery was headed back across goal by Sean Bannon and Dan Rayson blasted it into the corner from close range to take an absorbing tie into an extra half hour.

Blyth took just two minutes to take the lead as Danny Beresford’s lob was pulled back by Chris Lisle and when a defender stumbled on it, Paul Joisce took advantage to poke into the net.

City levelled in the 23rd minute when Brandon Longcakes corner was blocked but came back to him and he whipped in for Martin Shepherd to head powerfully into the roof of the net.

The Cumbrians started to enjoy more possession but were caught out four minutes before the break as Bradley was left red-faced when Lisle charged down his attempted clearance from a back pass and showed a cool head to square for the in-sliding Devlin to tuck in at the far post.

David Atkinson attempted to embarrass the stopper further from the restart after half time with an audacious shot direct from the kick-off that came back off the face of the bar.

And City levelled soon after as Longcakes began to torment Town down the right and Stuart Kilgour eventually headed in after a goalmouth scramble that saw Lisle head off the line.

City striker Bannon had been frustrated by his marker but then shook the attentions and unleashed a 40-yard thunderbolt that crashed into the roof of the net leaving Town keeper David Dent a virtual spectator.

Devlin hit the Cumbrians on the break and equalised after playing a neat one-two with Beresford before rounding Bradley and rolling in – and soon after Beresford’s curling near post ball was flicked into the top corner by Lisle to restore the visitor’s advantage.

City’s late leveller put the game into extra time, but Town still created the better chances with Bradley down well to deny Devlin and then saving from Atkinson’s penalty after a soft award for holding.

Bradley then saved to deny Beresford when he looked odds on to score, and when Devlin went past the number one but was tripped, Hopwood took responsibility and stood up to take the penalty, with diving Bradley again equal to a well-hit effort.

The bad luck continued as with seven minutes to go City sub Steven Rooke fired a deep cross into the box and Dent stretched to punch with the ball hitting the back of Dan Bulman and bouncing into the net.

With two minutes to go Bannon was tripped in the box and stepped up to fire the penalty into the top corner.

The rest of the Northern Alliance programme was wiped out by waterlogged pitches.