Carlisle United 1 Forest Green Rovers 2: After Black Friday, Bleak Saturday. Again. There are some serious bargains on offer at Brunton Park this season and there is no end to the queue of visiting teams willing to snap them up.

Carlisle’s tally of home defeats – six – is now the equal worst in League Two. Considering no team has won more away games either, there may be some relief that the team coach will now be loaded for three consecutive trips before we have to go through all this again.

A highly neurotic campaign sees the Blues, ludicrously, still just six points outside the automatic promotion places. Please don’t read that as a prediction; it simply shows how the fourth division is a rest home for the inconsistent, the erratic, the team that can be 10 out of 10 one week, as Anthony Gerrard put it, and four the next, without plummeting.

In United’s case their score seems to depend almost entirely on whether they are trying to negotiate Brunton Park’s green spaces or raiding someone else’s home. From the 4-0 annihilation of Swindon to this jumbled defeat to a much better footballing side in Forest Green in the space of eight days: nothing better sums up their 2018/19 so far.

One place separated these sides before kick-off; by the end it was the same. In the opening stages, though, there was a chasm in passing, movement, invention and pressing. Carlisle applied a little more force later on but it was still a sadly familiar sight, John Sheridan’s team throwing themselves at an opponent at the Warwick Road End in vain search of a point.

For the chances they missed, including one cleared off the line and another that nudged a post, there is no sense yet of United taking control on their own patch. The Newport game aside, there has been a shortage of authority from the Blues here since August.

The common denominator in Carlisle’s better Brunton Park days is Danny Grainger, who has been injured for all their losses. It cannot, though, come down to one man. Inserting the skipper into Saturday’s XI would not have solved all the problems at a stroke, considering those problems included failing to disrupt Forest Green’s rhythmic passing from deep midfield – the way they set the early tone.

Tommy Wright, Sheridan’s assistant, was decent enough to praise Mark Cooper’s team for their stylish play. “The better team won,” he said. The sin was that Carlisle did not get a handle on their intentions until it was too late. Lloyd James had too much freedom to set things off from the centre and if their attacking manoeuvres were occasionally too varied for their own good, they were still much better than United’s uncertain offerings.

The world’s first carbon neutral football club certainly found plenty of renewable energy in a first half that was at times humbling for the Blues. United barely registered a possession statistic in the opening minutes as Forest Green passed with purpose, Carl Winchester almost slotting Matt Worthington through, and Ben Morris and Reece Brown menacing from left and right.

United were more direct but less assured. Joseph Mills almost bustled in for the guests, Brown’s poor touch cost him another good chance and after Carlisle had briefly come up for air with a Hallam Hope near miss, the visitors scored, via some interplay in the box, a deflected Brown shot and Morris’ opportunist finish.

Nobody could deny their right to a lead even this soon, and for United’s attempts to get on the ball and settle things, through Mike Jones, there was little coherence about their breaks forward. From their better glimpses, Regan Slater shot over and Jack Sowerby tested keeper James Montgomery, but other attempts were haphazard, while Cooper’s side created more; through Winchester, Paul Digby and Morris, the latter thwarted by Gerrard.

Up front, Ashley Nadesan was trapped between chasing futile things and then struggling to hold up what came his way in deeper areas. A few cute touches from Jamie Devitt almost got Carlisle going yet even after a rejig, which saw Slater sent to the left and Jerry Yates brought infield, there was not enough potency.

They did, at least, disrupt some of the visitors’ patterns, not that they faded completely. There was no excuse, for instance, for Winchester being able to work easy space to rifle narrowly over from 20 yards, soon into the second half. The same player was then denied by a good Adam Collin stop.

Carlisle’s headway came from set-pieces, in the main, and was hopeful rather than poised. Macaulay Gillesphey had a couple of blasts and Slater again shot wide, before United’s approach became plainer with the arrival of Richie Bennett from the bench.

Within moments he won a high ball to enable Slater to win a corner that Devitt bent onto Gary Liddle’s head. James, though, cleared off the line. A minute later, Forest Green broke and scored again, outnumbering United as Morris and Brown found Winchester, who scored with ease.

Carlisle, with Kelvin Etuhu also on to provide some midfield snap, had little option now but to launch everything they had. Bennett failed to connect with a Devitt cross but then the latter dispatched an unexpected penalty, ref Carl Boyeson having spotted a handball that bewildered not just the visitors.

Then came a series of final salvos, in between some fitful decisions by the officials and a few episodes of time-wasting by the visiting keeper. United’s best late ideas involved Yates feeding the overlapping Liddle, whose shot was saved, Sowerby going close from the right, Gerrard heading over and then an injury-time corner which attracted Collin to the opposing box, the resulting chaos seeing the ball land for Gillesphey, who curled it against the upright.

A point, though, would have been a steal. The truth is United are still not putting a high enough price on their honour at home and, until solutions are found, thoughts of a serious challenge will have to stay on the shelf.

United: Collin, Liddle, Gillesphey, Gerrard, Sowerby, Yates, Jones (Etuhu 63), Slater, Devitt, Hope (Bennett 68), Nadesan. Not used: Gray, Glendon, Campbell, Adewusi, McCarron.

Goal: Devitt 77pen

Booked: Gerrard

Forest Green: Montgomery, James, Rawson, Winchester, Gunning, McGinley, Digby, Worthington (Archibald 74), Morris (Reid 74), Mills, Brown (Williams 83). Not used: Sanchez, Campbell, Pearce.

Goals: Morris 12, Winchester 71

Booked: Montgomery

Ref: Carl Boyeson

Crowd: 4,166 (116 Forest Green fans)