Carlisle United frustrated by Crewe in stalemate at Brunton Park

Rod McDonald, right, closes in as Jack Stretton has the ball for United (photos: Ben Holmes)
Rod McDonald, right, closes in as Jack Stretton has the ball for United (photos: Ben Holmes)

Carlisle United 0 Crewe Alexandra 0: Carlisle United failed to find a way past Crewe in an uninspiring contest at Brunton Park.

The Blues extended their unbeaten league run to seven games - their best run since 2018.

But it was otherwise a frustrating spectacle as Crewe's ex-United defender Rod McDonald impressed on his return to his former club.

He helped the visitors keep United at bay with Paul Simpson's side creating few chances of note as they dropped a place to ninth in League Two.

Alex Morris's visitors had a few moments of their own but rarely threatened to leave Cumbria with the points.

Simpson kept faith with the same XI that had started in Tuesday's victory at Grimsby - but there was a double boost on the bench.

Owen Moxon on the ball for United

Both Omari Patrick and Morgan Feeney were back in the squad after hamstring injuries.

Crewe included former United defenders Kelvin Mellor and McDonald but were hit by the loss of key frontman Courtney Baker-Richardson to injury.

United, with Jack Stretton making his first home league start in attack, fashioned the first shooting opportunity, from which Owen Moxon had an effort deflected wide.

But that was a rare attempt on goal in a first half which never really got going.

READ MORE: Carlisle United v Crewe Alexandra - as it happened

Kristian Dennis was offside as he tried to break onto a Moxon ricochet, while Dan Agyei tested Tomas Holy for Crewe.

United's keeper parried a Bassala Sambou shot during a bright spell for the visitors midway through the half, as Carlisle's build-up play was not matched by any penetration in the final third.

Crewe made a first half chance as Zac Williams, soon after being booked, was replaced by Rio Adebisi.

Jon Mellish battles with Crewe's Conor Thomas

United did end the half on the front foot, with Dennis flashing a Fin Back cross wide and Corey Whelan almost reaching a Jordan Gibson delivery.

But defences remained otherwise on top, McDonald a composed figure in the first 45 on his return to Brunton Park, Carlisle in need of some second-half impetus.

Gibson almost provided it, with a well-struck 30-yard effort in the 52nd minute, but home keeper Arthur Okonkwo turned it behind.

With little other inspiration on show, Simpson made a change before the hour mark, sending on Patrick in place of Stretton.

McDonald got free of the United defence to meet a Crewe free-kick, but the offside flag was up as he glanced the headed chance wide.

There remained little in the game, Sambou shooting well wide after managing to turn against Paul Huntington, and then Jon Mellish sent forward into midfield but Carlisle's chance count remaining painfully low.

Kristian Dennis on the ball for United

Patrick did get a shot on target from the left but Okonkwo dealt with it comfortably, while Agyei shot waywardly from a good position after a left-sided run from Tariq Uwakwe.

Simpson then sent on Jayden Harris for the closing stages in place of Gibson, but United failed to create anything late on.

An off-target Agyei free-kick was Crewe's last opportunity of note while for Carlisle Callum Guy had a shot blocked before limping off in added time.

United: Holy, Whelan, Huntington, Mellish, Back, Armer, Guy (Charters 90), Moxon, Gibson (Harris 82), Stretton (Patrick 58), Dennis. Not used: Kelly, Feeney, Bollado, Idehen.

Booked: Huntington.

Crewe: Okonkwo, Mellor, Williams (Adebisi 42), McDonald, Offord, Thomas, Brook (Finney 68), King, Uwakwe, Agyei, Sambou. Not used: Richards, Griffiths, Leshabela, Sass-Davies, Tabiner.

Booked: Williams, King.

Ref: Ross Joyce.

Crowd: 5,012 (212 Crewe fans).