In the dark rain of 6am you leave the house, clutching your scarf and convincing yourself today it’ll be better. By 2.57pm, you’ve had some beers, a beach ball bounces round the away end, the guy next to you is brandishing a gnome. Optimism abounds.
Midway through the first half Kyle Knoyle is set free and squares for Ben Close, but he’s denied by a strong left hand. That’ll be the catalyst, you tell yourself, in reality it’s all Rovers offer.
Down the other end Jonathan Mitchell, implausibly claws a header onto the bar; a save so outstanding, the home fans were already celebrating the ball’s seemingly inevitable connection with netting.
And that’s as much as you’ll have to shout about between now and a suitably sodden traipse back to the station, and a five and a half hour journey spent ruminating in damp jeans.
In between, Carlisle score three goals, each as inevitable as they are preventable. Callum Guy from distance when not closed down; Jack Stretton turning in after failures to clear, and then capitalising on poor decision-making to help himself to another. It could’ve been four; Adam Long conjuring a foul from thin air to give United a penalty. Mitchell saved, both blushes and the kick.
A dire performance all-in. Ponderous. Without purpose. No cohesion and not so much as a glimmer of a plan that would give you cause to stick not twist. We went to Carlisle and fulfilled a fixture and nothing much else.
by Glen Wilson