Carlisle United 1 Wycombe Wanderers 1: Right now Neil Dalton, Carlisle United's redoubtable physio, must feel like it will take another 1,000 games before he sees the Blues do anything other than draw.

This was a more eventful stalemate than the norm, but the result was the same, hopes of a late play-off surge no further forward, United still in the no-man's-land of mid-table, the top seven still beyond their grasp.

Dalton, whose four-figure feat was commemorated by the club on Saturday, had a fairly uneventful afternoon. There was a minor facial cut to Charlie Wyke that needed attention, and treatment was applied to Mark Ellis after he had been hurt by Marcus Bean's red-card challenge.

Otherwise the man responsible for healing hundreds of hurt bodies since 1997 was able to sit in the dugout and observe another nearly afternoon unfold. A nearly season, this is turning out to be, with Carlisle winless in five games and now six points below seventh place.

Four of those last five encounters have been drawn. What this means is United have not exactly fallen off a cliff with their performances, but nor are they able to put their flag on the summit. Mark Gillespie's fine penalty save aside, this turned into one more winnable game that was squandered by their failure to take chances.

Fans will feel they've read that sentence a lot lately. "It might be that we need a different option in attack," admitted Keith Curle. Someone who can locate the onion bag, comes the harsh reply, while it is hoped the trialist Dutch winger, Luis Pedro, brings his shooting clogs if he signs a short-term deal this week.

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United's inaccuracy in the box meant they were unable to capitalise on Charlie Wyke's equaliser - the one time Curle's side were deadly - against a side a few steps closer to the business end of League Two. One miss, a header from Hallam Hope, was particularly glaring.

Gillespie bailed them out from a spot-kick that was clumsily conceded, and the second half was a sterile scuffle. "You've got to say, some of [Wycombe's] last ditch defending was commendable," said Curle, not unfairly, with a flurry of blocked attempts the best United offered from minutes 46 to 90.

And so, after even results against Leyton Orient, Dagenham and Exeter recently, here was another, and Carlisle cannot get past the awkward fact that they have still lost more league games (four) in 2016 than they have won (three), and a moderate Easter might finish off their hopes for good.

One cannot expect this team to give up the chase, for they are not of that mentality. That is one much-needed quality Curle has imported this season. It is simply that current events are making December's surge to fifth appear something of a false dawn.

United's manager tinkered with his line-up in a bid to find their clinical side. He brought David Atkinson into midfield, a move that encouraged Jason Kennedy and Luke Joyce forward, and recalled Alex Gilliead on the right.

This resulted in a first half that was nearly as lively as Curle's touchline garb - blue jacket, maroon trousers - with United recovering from a faltering first 15 minutes.

In this spell Wycombe opened the Blues up in the second minute, Joe Jacobson eventually being closed down. United replied with near misses from Tom Miller and Danny Grainger, but Wycombe's central midfield pairing of Bean and Stephen McGinn were obdurate, and their overall counter-attacking sharp.

The visitors then found a generous path to goal, as ref Tim Robinson played an advantage, Jacobson crossed well, and Sam Wood found the freedom of Warwick Road to head home.

That was not a proud moment for Carlisle's back four and it left the Blues scrambling for improvement against the best away defence in League Two. To their credit they did step up and built pressure that told in the 25th minute, as a persistent attack on the right ended with Hope squaring for Wyke to pass the ball into Wycombe's net.

The striker's 12th of the season was timely and ought to have been followed by more. Carlisle, pressing higher and more effectively, forced themselves further onto Wycombe, leading to half chances for Ellis and Kennedy - and then a glorious one, when Ellis peeled into space and headed Atkinson's centre across the six-yard box, only for the arriving Hope to put it over.

Supporters watched that and feared it might return to nip United's ankles, as has happened before. And it very nearly did, as shortly before half-time Wycombe broke from a Carlisle corner, captain Garry Thompson stretched for a Bean header and, though he seldom looked like doing much with it, still found himself in collision with the sliding Gillespie.

Robinson paused, as though someone had just asked him to do a tricky sum, and then finally pointed to the spot. As United bemoaned the decision, Hope scurried over to Gillespie and whispered something in his ear.

Seconds later, Carlisle's keeper dived to his right to push Jacobson's penalty around the post. It was a save of top quality and teased us with the idea United might yet go on and win.

Despite the usual hard-working effort, they didn't, and in truth the second half was mostly a cancelling-out spectacle, neither side able to find their sharpest edge, despite a gaggle of substitutions that included a tidy debut in midfield for Carlisle's new loan signing, Martin Smith.

The game was still there to be won when the Sunderland man arrived in the 68th minute, replacing Atkinson. By then Ellis had done well to deny Gozie Ugwu, and Gillespie even better to keep out Luke O'Nien's header, in a phase when Wycombe bossed possession.

Later United lifted some mounting anxiety but couldn't make their moments of pinball count, Michael Raynes having a pair of volleys blocked and Hope twice curling over from decent areas on the left, in the stages where the visiting centre-halves, Aaron Pierre and Anthony Stewart, were not eating up aerial deliveries.

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More half-opportunities came and went, Ellis heading over a Grainger corner, Jabo Ibehre entering the fray, a couple more tame penalty appeals going unheeded, and Bean then sliding into a 50-50 with Ellis and emerging to the sight of Robinson's red card.

"Dubious," reckoned Curle, who had seen Luke Joyce similarly banished in the reverse fixture in October. So it looked. Alas, United were little more potent against 10 men than 11, with Wycombe sending on a midfielder (Michael Harriman) for a striker (Ugwu) and not exactly flinging themselves forward in the closing 10 minutes.

Understandable, even if they were nudged out of the play-off zone themselves by Leyton Orient. But you'd still take their chances over Carlisle's. "We're still in the chasing pack," protested Curle. "We wont give in."

That much we know. But they sorely need to be deadlier, otherwise this will soon be a chase without much thrill.

MARK GILLESPIE - Penalised for clumsy foul on Thompson, but atoned brilliantly to save Jacobson's penalty. Also made good stop from O'Nien on a generally good day for the keeper.

TOM MILLER - Seems to be improving as he gets games in his legs after injury. Was combative in the air and tried to offer an outlet on the right for United.

DANNY GRAINGER - At left-back, wasn't often beaten by his man, while the captain caused danger with deliveries on a day Carlisle weren't ruthless enough in the box.

MICHAEL RAYNES - Other than the moment Wood found space to score, United were steady enough at the back, while Raynes was in the thick of things as they tried to force a winner at other end.

MARK ELLIS - Wood's goal wasn't a champagne moment for Carlisle's defence, and Ellis had a few nervy moments, though he also made a few timely interventions to help ensure Ainsworth's side seldom cut the Blues open.

DAVID ATKINSON - In holding midfield role, Atkinson showed some class in possession as United rebuilt after conceding. Showed good awareness in the position before Curle replaced him in second half.

LUKE JOYCE - A steady enough showing, mainly as a link man in midfield, involved in the move that led to Wyke's equaliser before later being replaced as Curle sent on Ibehre.

JASON KENNEDY - Atkinson's extra presence in defensive midfield encouraged Kennedy to get forward, and he almost battled his way to a breakthrough, but to no avail. 

ALEX GILLIEAD - Had a useful hand in equaliser build-up, and tried to put visitors on back foot at other times, but the end product wasn't quite there from the loanee, who was replaced by Asamoah.

HALLAM HOPE - On another day, could have had two or three goals. Unfortunately his finishing let him down after getting himself into several good positions, though did well to set up Wyke.

CHARLIE WYKE - Tucked away simple chance for his 12th of the season, and led line combatively against big centre-halves, though no other real chances came his way.

Subs: Derek Asamoah (for Gilliead 65) - Helped United reapply pressure; Martin Smith (for Atkinson 68) - Sound debut in midfield; Jabo Ibehre (for Joyce 77) - Linked attacks but no joy in box. Not used: Dan Hanford, Bastien Hery, Troy Archibald-Henville, Alex McQueen.

Goal: Wyke 25

Booked: Kennedy, Raynes

Wycombe Wanderers: Allsop, McCarthy, Jacobson, Stewart, Pierre, McGinn, O'Nien, Bean, Wood (Bloomfield 90), Thompson (Liburd 69), Ugwu (Harriman 81). Not used: Siegrist, Hayes, Sellers, Jombati.

Goal: Wood 12

Booked: Stewart. Sent off: Bean

Ref: Tim Robinson (West Sussex)

Crowd: 4,532 (179 Wycombe fans)