Derek Asamoah’s first half goal condemned Accrington Stanley to a 1-0 defeat against Carlisle United at Brunton Park.
The home side started the brighter with the experienced Asamoah threatening just a couple of minutes in – he found space to turn past Tom Aldred and shoot from the edge of the area but Jack Rose palmed the effort behind. Courtney Meppen-Walter headed wide from the resulting corner.
Having looked the most likely player to open the scoring, Asamoah did so when he beat the offside trap to collect Billy Paynter’s pass over the top of the defence and calmly roll the ball past Rose into the bottom corner from 16 yards.
Going behind appeared to spark Stanley into life and they began to threaten when Rob Atkinson headed over the bar from a free-kick and then O’Sullivan unleashed a ripsnorter from 35 yards that beat Dan Hanford in the home goal but also beat the upright, whistling past the post.
Shay McCartan’s recent form had seen him selected in the side over Lee Molyneux but he was unable to give full justification to that decision as he shot wide from inside the area under pressure from home skipper Danny Grainger.
It was Carlisle’s turn to threaten next as the sides began to trade chances. Kyle Dempsey flashed a shot past Rose’s goal just moments after he miscontrolled a Grainger cross that would have almost certainly seen him score if he had been able to bring the ball under his spell.
McCartan fired over the bar from 30 yards and Matty Robson saw his effort deflect away off Hunt for a corner as the hosts took a slender lead into the break.
Dempsey and Asamoah were perennial pains for the Stanley defence and both could have doubled the Cumbrians’ lead early in the second half but put their efforts wide.
In an attempt to get back on level terms, Maguire danced past a couple of defenders but was off-balance as he got his shot away and it lacked the power to trouble Hanford.
Shortly afterwards, Molyneux, on as a substitute for the Reds, decided to try his luck from distance, seeing a free-kick deflected wide before shooting high and wide from the corner that followed.
Home substitute Steven Rigg could have wrapped up the game for the hosts but his shot from 12 yards was straight at Rose from David Amoo’s cross whilst Molyneux was off-target with a free-kick at the other end.
O’Sullivan cut inside from the left onto his stronger right foot but his shot was well wide but it was the home side who finished the stronger – Rose kept the deficit at one goal, producing a sharp save at his near post to deny Rigg before tipping a powerful Amoo effort over.
The Reds were unable to muster any late counter-attacks, Aldred deflected a Robson shot away from danger in five minutes of stoppage time as Carlisle held on for the narrow victory
Stanley: Rose; Hunt (Liddle 62), Aldred, Atkinson, Winnard; Joyce, Procter; O;Sullivan, Maguire, McCartan (Molyneux 75); Naismith (Gray 60).
Subs not used: Simpson, Hatfield, Windass, Carver.