Lambe carries real threat – Higginbotham
Reggie Lambe has been singled out for praise after his eye-catching display against Exeter City in the Sky Bet League Two semi-final play-off first leg.
Danny Higginbotham, the Sky Sports television pundit and former Stoke City defender, believes the Bermuda winger carried plenty of threat in Carlisle’s 3-3 draw at home to Exeter last weekend.
The two teams meet today in the second leg at St James Park.
“Lambe did well and created a lot of problems, particularly with how he and Jamie Devitt interchanged and Lambe moved wide and got right onto the attack, while Proctor has a physical threat and brings others into play,” Higginbotham said.
“Exeter certainly caused Carlisle plenty of problems as well. For me, as a neutral, it was fantastic.
“It was a case of you attack, we attack. By the end you could tell the players were knackered and I think the fans were as well. Overall it was a spectacle that was appreciated by both sets of fans.”
Higginbotham believes the second leg is too close to call and expects another dramatic spectacle.
“I can see it being a really open game and between two teams with contrasting styles,” said Higginbotham, who also played for Manchester United, Derby County and Southampton.
“It’s also a game between two managers who trust their principles and play in a way that brings the best out of their players.
“As much as anything I thought it was an honest game on Sunday and equally I think the second leg is going to be an even game. I don’t think for one minute it will be 0-0.
“One thing I would say, from watching a lot of Championship and Premier League games this season, is the most successful teams have a real belief in how they want to play. You can change systems but not your beliefs. Keith Curle doesn’t appear to do that and nor does Paul Tisdale, to their credit.
“It is a very hard one to call but whoever goes through will certainly be worthy finalists.”
Higginbotham believes Exeter’s ability to deal with Carlisle aerial raids on their penalty area will go a long way towards deciding the outcome of the tie.
He believes Carlisle manager Curle will look to use the smaller St James’ Park pitch to their advantage.
“I thought it was a fantastic game on Sunday and neither team was particularly happy with a draw — you could tell that by the way both kept going to the end,” said Higginbotham, who was at Brunton Park as part of Sky Sports’ coverage and will also be at the game in Devon today.
“Fair play to Keith Curle for his substitutions — they were fantastic and really had the desired effect.
“Nicky Adams was a constant threat — he’s an old-school winger, who gets a yard of space and puts good balls in the box.
“That kind of delivery could be crucial tomorrow. Carlisle will know, going to Exeter, that the pitch is smaller and they can become more of a threat from balls into the box, whether set pieces or from open play, so they can look for those 50-50 situations. It will come down to how Exeter deal with that.
“But there is a real attacking threat in both teams, if you consider Ollie Watkins, David Wheeler and Reuben Reid at Exeter, and the likes of Adams, Reggie Lambe, Jamie Proctor and the subs, Shaun Miller and John O’Sullivan in the Carlisle ranks.”
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