It must have felt like the good times were going to stick around when Carlisle made a bright start to the 2008/9 season. The previous year had brought play-off heartbreak but there appeared no hangover when John Ward’s team began a fresh League One campaign.

United had lost a couple of key players from their promotion near-miss – keeper Keiren Westwood joining Coventry and Joe Garner moving to Nottingham Forest – but things seemed in decent enough order through August 2008.

The Blues began the league season with two wins and a draw, and the visit of Yeovil was not greatly feared by a team still boasting some top performers from the previous season’s challenge, such as Danny Graham, Marc Bridge-Wilkinson, David Raven, Danny Livesey and Peter Murphy.

These had been joined by new signings Ben Williams and Josh Gowling, and a high-profile returning favourite: Michael Bridges, signed on a season-long loan from Hull.

The former top-flight frontman, who had lit up Brunton Park in the 2005/6 League Two title season, was a popular replacement for the dynamic Garner but had to wait for his chance this time, given the early-season form of ex-Morecambe forward Danny Carlton.

He retained his place alongside Graham to face the Glovers, Bridges on the bench, and it proved to be one of those afternoons when everything went right for United’s men in front of goal and those supplying the chances.

That was despite a rather sluggish first half. Russell Slade’s visitors absorbed an early Graham chance before shocking Carlisle with an early goal, stroked in by Gavin Tomlin after Williams had saved from Marc Bircham.

United almost shipped another, surviving a Terry Skiverton header, and it was not until the half-hour mark that they hit a better stride. Murphy and Graham, twice, tested Yeovil keeper Asmir Begovic and although their football was still patchy, it did generate an equaliser before the break.

It came from Graham: a rasping left-footed finish after Livesey had nodded Raven’s lofted ball into his path.

This was the boost Carlisle needed and they capitalised after the break, with winger Cleveland Taylor to the fore. The ex-Scunthorpe man had struggled to win supporters over in his first few months at the club but was their chief creator as they went on to dismantle Yeovil in the second half.

In the 58th minute, they led, after Bridge-Wilkinson found Simon Hackney with a telling pass. Taylor’s cross was met by Carlton, and Graham was on hand to poach when the ball squirmed away from Begovic.

Yeovil briefly threatened to level when sub Andre McCollin headed wide, but Carlisle had now found a superior rhythm and quickly added a third. Lee Peltier tripped the raiding Taylor in the box and ref Graham Laws’ decision gave Graham the opportunity for a first career hat-trick.

The former Middlesbrough frontman made no mistake from the penalty spot and from here the Glovers were comfortably swiped aside, Slade’s team visibly drained of confidence and Carlisle’s display manned by Paul Thirlwell, who showed calm authority in midfield.

After Graham’s milestone, there was just enough time for another: a first senior goal for a less-experienced striker. Gary Madine had made exciting progress in United’s youth side and after replacing Graham for the final five minutes, the 18-year-old grabbed Carlisle’s fourth with an accurate finish when meeting Taylor’s cross.

The 4-1 win kept United at the forefront of the early race and helped Graham on the way to the division’s player of the month award with five goals in August. His treble was a particular highlight. “I’ve had a few chances to get a hat-trick before, so it’s good to get there and I’m over the moon,” the striker said.

It had also been a significant day for winger Taylor, who was cheered off by supporters who had jeered him months earlier. “I had a tough start here, as everybody knows,” he said. “But that’s in the past now and I don’t want to talk about it any more.

“I just want to get out there and show people what I can do.”

He did that in United’s next game, netting the winner against Southend, but their latest good run then came to an abrupt end. Carlisle duly went on a run of nine defeats from 10 league games and, come November, their alarming collapsed form had cost Ward his job.

United: Williams, Raven, Horwood, Murphy, Livesey, Thirlwell, Bridge-Wilkinson, Taylor (Joyce), Hackney (Bridges), Graham (Madine), Carlton. Not used: Howarth, Keogh.

Yeovil: Begovic, Forbes, Skiverton, Jones, Bircham, Way, Roberts (McCollin), Warne, Murtagh (Dayton), Peltier, Tomlin (Owusu). Not used: Smith, Alcock.

Crowd: 6,286.