Carlisle United 2 Cheltenham Town 0: Steven Pressley started life as Carlisle manager with a false move. A really good false move. Jamie Devitt as a deep-moving frontman – “false nine”, in tactical language – laced the second half of this game with quality and allowed the Blues’ new boss to notch up a first tactical win along with three points.

What a gift it must be for an incoming leader to be granted a player like Devitt. The interesting thing on Saturday, though, is how one of League Two’s best creators was used. It was a method Keith Curle or John Sheridan never tried, even when getting good things from player and team.

Devitt started further forward than his normal attacking midfield berth. It was Pressley’s first solution to the (hopefully temporary) shortage of orthodox strikers at Brunton Park. When Carlisle started to damage Cheltenham it was when Devitt had slipped off the front line and began connecting attacks with his trademark, penetrating passes.

Yes, he also finished like a more traditional hitman, collecting a cross and shooting in off the post to open the scoring. United’s second goal, though, was the moment Pressley’s experiment truly paid off: Devitt reversing into a pocket of space between the visitors’ defence and midfield, stealing possession and supplying Hallam Hope.

One supporter noted that a battery of scouts left when Devitt was later subbed. The talk at Brunton Park may be of arrivals right now but did Pressley have any fears that his best player might be poached?

“Yeah, we’re selling him tomorrow,” he said – smiling – before switching to serious mode. “There’ll be nobody leaving. There’ll only be players coming in here. Dev did great. He grew into that role and worked exceptionally hard. He’s a player at this level that can absolutely make the difference.

“But it was also a strong performance from everybody. Today’s not really for me about singling out any particular player. It’s about saying it was a strong team performance.”

It was indeed another collective triumph, and a smooth beginning for Sheridan’s successor. A tricky first half was followed by something much more routine after Carlisle’s early second-half goals. As they went up to fourth, Pressley strode onto the pitch and pumped his fist towards the Warwick Road End.

He did the same to the Paddock and Main Stand, eliciting cheers, as he went up the tunnel. This followed a highly animated performance in the technical area: another side of the 45-year-old’s personality, after coming across urbane and measured in his first media appearances.

Next on his to-do list must be the entrance door swinging open. Pressley said United could bring in five players before the end of the month, while the fate of Jack Sowerby - excellent again in his penultimate appearance - also needs to be well resolved. Carlisle bonded positively to beat limited opposition here but also must be swelled by good and carefully-sourced additions in order to keep this challenge on track.

Pressley, at least, negotiated this one safely, even hurdling the loss of one of United’s reliables, Gary Liddle, to a knee injury. Gary Miller came in for a rare start and deserves credit for his use of the ball down the right, where Liam McCarron showed flashes of danger on his first home start.

With Danny Grainger back in his usual left-back home, Carlisle took time to adapt to their new arrangement further forward. They had the better of the first half without regularly threatening; a few wayward shots early on while their defenders kept Michael Duff’s men on a reasonable leash. Only once, when Chris Hussey swept past Miller and tested Adam Collin’s reflexes, was there a serious inroad in their direction.

There were times, in the first 45, when Devitt’s through-balls found nobody. At this point one sensed a couple of holes up top in the respective shapes of Jerry Yates and Ashley Nadesan. Devitt examined Scott Flinders from 25 yards and Hope, from the left, curled one wide, but progress was sporadic.

Sowerby was, at least, positive in midfield, eager to burst past players, while on the right, McCarron’s pace, the times it was isolated, was a clear concern to Cheltenham. One foul by Craig Alcock on the teenager deserved its booking. Later, McCarron linked with Miller and Regan Slater, whose cross was helped on to Hope, who headed over.

Hussey’s own deliveries had quality but Cheltenham lacked the sense they could knock Carlisle’s door down. After the break, their own roof then fell in. First, McCarron and Devitt fed the raiding Slater, and though his cross deflected behind Devitt, the false nine controlled it well and sent a true finish in off the post.

Eight minutes later, Collin having denied Charlie Raglan, it was two: Devitt’s alertness to rob Chris Clements, and Hope finishing neatly.

It was already tempting to think this enough against visitors who had never won a league game at Brunton Park, and whose own frontmen seldom got the better of Tom Parkes and Anthony Gerrard. Grainger almost made it three, putting an unselfish Slater cross wide, and when Luke Varney cleared the bar at the other end a fifth straight home win seemed set.

A couple of changes briefly enlivened the Robins, after Hope had put another Devitt pass just wide. Trouble passed, though, when Grainger blocked from Ryan Broom and Collin kept out Jacob Maddox.

Other glimpses were available of how United had lured Cheltenham into uncomfortable places. Ben Tozer’s heavy aerial foul on Devitt was that of a defender out of a comfort zone while a late cameo saw one sub, Mike Jones, set up another, George Glendon, for a near miss.

Slater was denied by a goalline block in injury-time but we were merely into goal difference territory by now, the game long secure, Pressley’s safe start in the bank, and the manager’s arm then going like a piston a couple of times as he gestured in celebration.

It will take a skilful touch from him and others to keep the Blues on this encouraging path, but this was certainly a creditable way to begin a reign.

United: Collin, Miller (Glendon 81), Grainger, Parkes, Gerrard, Slater, Etuhu, Sowerby, Devitt (Simpson 83), McCarron (Jones 75), Hope. Not used: Gray, Kennedy, Gillesphey, Egan.

Goals: Devitt 49, Hope 57

Cheltenham: Flinders, Hussey, Tozer, Alcock (Dawson 85), Raglan, Broom, Thomas, Clements, Waters (Maddox 65), Varney (Addai 65), Barnett. Not used: Lovett, Mullins, Forster, Pring.

Booked: Alcock

Ref: Carl Boyeson

Crowd: 4,458 (110 Cheltenham fans)