Dennis scores again as Carlisle United fight back for draw against Swindon

·5-min read
Kristian Dennis fires home the equaliser (photos: Richard Parkes)
Kristian Dennis fires home the equaliser (photos: Richard Parkes)

Carlisle United 1 Swindon Town 1: Kristian Dennis made history by keeping up his superb scoring form as Carlisle fought back for a draw with Swindon.

The frontman became the first player for 60 years to score in the Blues' first four games of a season.

Dennis' 45th-minute equaliser cancelled out Jacob Wakeling's Swindon opener to earn Paul Simpson's side a point at Brunton Park.

Carlisle had some real chances to win it with Omari Patrick and Jack Stretton missing great opportunities in front of the 5,602 crowd.

Harry McKirdy came close for Swindon after the break on his return to United's ground.

News and Star: Harry McKirdy walks out with the teams
News and Star: Harry McKirdy walks out with the teams

Harry McKirdy walks out with the teams

But neither side could find a winner, leaving injury-hit Carlisle on five points from three unbeaten games at the start of the League Two season.

Simpson, without the sidelined Ben Barclay and Ryan Edmondson, handed a first start of the season to teenage defender Jack Ellis.

Patrick, meanwhile, continued in attack in place of Edmondson as he got his first league start of the campaign.

Corey Whelan again captained the Blues, who had youth team players Nic Bollado and Ryan Carr on the bench along with Jayden Harris, the latter passed fit despite a midweek injury concern.

Swindon boss Scott Lindsey handed a start to new loan defender Frazer Blake-Tracy while, as expected, McKirdy was back in the visiting attack after suspension.

News and Star: Jack Armer and Jon Mellish battle with Harry McKirdy
News and Star: Jack Armer and Jon Mellish battle with Harry McKirdy

Jack Armer and Jon Mellish battle with Harry McKirdy

United had the ball in the net inside two minutes but Dennis's header, after Whelan had met an Owen Moxon corner, was ruled out for offside.

Patrick had penalty claims dismissed as Mathieu Baudry challenged him, before Wakeling shot weakly from a good Swindon position.

Jonny Williams started pulling midfield strings for the visitors, as McKirdy broke free to fire across the six-yard box.

At the other end, Jack Armer went close for the Blues, but then Swindon struck in the 22nd minute.

Initially McKirdy had been denied a free-kick as he went down under Moxon's challenge, but Swindon were quickest onto it after a Callum Guy slip as former Leicester City man Wakeling dropped the shoulder and went through to drill past Tomas Holy.

News and Star: Jacob Wakeling drills Swindon ahead
News and Star: Jacob Wakeling drills Swindon ahead

Jacob Wakeling drills Swindon ahead

That was followed by the game's first drinks break in the sweltering conditions - after which Carlisle should have equalised.

Fin Back was the creator, running onto a one-two with Dennis down the right, but when his perfect low cross arrived for Patrick, the frontman somehow cleared the crossbar from inside the six-yard box.

Another opportunity came Dennis's way after good work from Guy, but the frontman shot wide of the far post from the right of the Swindon area.

Then, though, the in-form striker made no mistake as he shot United level.

News and Star: Omari Patrick in the Swindon net after missing a sitter
News and Star: Omari Patrick in the Swindon net after missing a sitter

Omari Patrick in the Swindon net after missing a sitter

It came as Carlisle drove through midfield, with ref Andrew Kitchen playing an advantage as Jordan Gibson was upended when playing Dennis through.

The frontman was behind the defence and clean through - and finished with composure.

Not since Billy Stark in 1962 had a Carlisle player scored in the club's first four games of a campaign.

And United, in a forceful end to the half, could have then gone ahead, Dennis seeing a header tipped over by Sol Brynn, and the visiting keeper saving a shot from the impressive Back as United worked the ball from left to right.

After the break, Carlisle carved out another opening for Patrick on the break, but his sidefooted finish after good work from Gibson was blocked.

United then had Holy to thank as McKirdy got away from Jon Mellish and shot from the right, the Blues keeper doing well to shut down the chance.

Carlisle's No1 was called upon again on the hour mark after McKirdy played Wakeling in, the striker's shot parried by the Czech keeper.

News and Star: United celebrate Dennis's equaliser
News and Star: United celebrate Dennis's equaliser

United celebrate Dennis's equaliser

This came during a strong Swindon spell midway through the half, Ben Gladwin next to see a shot deflect wide, before Simpson handed home debuts to subs Harris and Jack Stretton with 20 minutes to go.

For United, Gibson and Stretton couldn't make the most of a chance before McKirdy fired into the side-netting after taking on Whelan.

With teenager Ellis performing with impressive composure on the right of Carlisle's central defensive three, Swindon boss Lindsey also made changes, bringing on Tomi Adeloye and Tyrese Shade, before Stretton became the latest Blues player to pass up a good chance when Carlisle upped things in the closing stages.

He cleared the bar after Armer headed a cross into his path at close range, with Dennis also trying to attack the chance.

Swindon sub Adeloye was then denied by Holy as McKirdy cushioned a pass into his path, and United's keeper was well placed to save a Reed shot as the visitors looked for a winner.

News and Star: Jack Stretton, second left, fires over the bar
News and Star: Jack Stretton, second left, fires over the bar

Jack Stretton, second left, fires over the bar

Sonny Hilton replaced Gibson for Carlisle with five minutes of the 90 to go, and he had an opportunity to create something in added time, but saw his cross blocked after cutting in.

Holy then smothered a Hutton cross after McKirdy left Mellish and Armer for dead, United unable to force a winner from some late set-pieces.

United: Holy, Ellis, Whelan, Mellish, Back, Armer, Guy, Gibson (Hilton 85), Moxon (Harris 71), Patrick (Stretton 71), Dennis. Not used: Kelly, Bollado, Devitt, Carr.

Goal: Dennis 45.

Booked: Moxon.

Swindon: Brynn, Hutton, Baudry, MacDonald, Blake-Tracey, Reed, Khan, Gladwin, Williams (Shade 77), McKirdy, Wakeling (Adeloye 74). Not used: Ward, Clayton, Darcy, Aguiar, Harries.

Goal: Wakeling 22.

Booked: Reed, MacDonald.

Ref: Andrew Kitchen.

Crowd: 5,602 (311 Swindon fans).