The disappointing thing on Saturday wasn’t that Plymouth were better than Carlisle. Yes, they had better players – we knew that was likely to be the case.

It was that Carlisle didn’t rise to the occasion in the right way.

You should always want to take on the best sides in your division. You should be fired up by the challenge, as players and team, of trying to match them.

In Carlisle’s case that happened the previous Saturday, at Cardiff in the FA Cup. They certainly rose to the occasion there, but it was the opposite at Brunton Park against one of the better sides in their own division.

United were unable to get a handle on Plymouth and it made me think back to certain players who might have fought to stay in that sort of game a little better.

People like Chris Billy and Tom Taiwo might not have had the touch of a Jack Bridge or a Stefan Scougall. But there would be no-one getting away from them in midfield. There would be that fight and battle all the way over the park.

I feel sorry for Chris Beech in a lot of ways, in terms of what he has been left to work with. It is more apparent than ever what a disaster the Steven Pressley managerial appointment was.

Looking back now at some of the interviews, some of the things put forward about certain players’ stats…certain defenders being up there with the most passes and so on. It just makes you shake your head.

I think Bournemouth’s centre-halves have the most passes in the Premier League, too, and look how they fared against Watford on Saturday.

When watching Carlisle under Pressley it made me question whether the players were fit enough, whether pre-season was done correctly…all sorts of things just didn’t look right.

It seems to have been a shambles from the start. That’s not anyone’s fault in the club at the minute; it’s direction from a manager who promised certain things, pledged how the team would play, but failed to deliver.

Beech is now trying to pick up the baton and it’s clear that any improvements will be small in the short-term.

He has brought in Elliot Watt, who looks a loan signing worth a chance. There was a mixed bag on Saturday – some felt he played ok, others felt differently – but I think there is something there with Watt.

Some of his passing was very good, some wasn’t, but that is going to happen in a team that is getting swamped by the opposition. I thought there were encouraging signs from him overall. He seems a player who takes responsibility and I feel he will be a decent signing.

After also moving for defender Max Hunt from Derby, Beech has to go into the market again and produce another couple of players. Hopefully he will be able to do that soon.

In a sense, tomorrow’s replay against Cardiff is another free hit. You wouldn’t be surprised to see Carlisle win this sort of game – that seems to be the nature of this team.

I have said for a while that these players have better performances in them. But it can be easier in occasions when you have that free hit; against Cardiff, Carlisle are not expected to attack and score goals. They are expected to hang on and try and find a way through the game.

In League Two, you are expected to attack and win games, and that’s where the problem comes. United can’t put a complete performance together when they attack and defend, and get the balance right, often enough.

Another win is needed soon and Oldham, on Saturday, is massive. That game will tell me where Carlisle are. I still don’t believe they are going to be down in those bottom few places but at Boundary Park it will be a big test of their ability to produce under pressure.

They are struggling for goals at home but, wherever they play, the same things need to apply. Carlisle need to show the same spirit that they did at Walsall, take chances when they come, keep the back door shut, get a win and build from there.

There may be a temptation to change things tomorrow night, with the important Oldham game in mind – but Carlisle need the money, and extending an FA Cup run could be crucial.

If Cardiff come up not really fancying it, it could be an opportunity for Carlisle; a chance to earn more funds to commit to strengthening the team before the end of the January window.

There are different arguments in terms of how Beech goes about it. There is the option of keeping people fresh for Oldham, and there is the idea of experimenting with something different to try and find a better formula. There is the thought of naming your strongest side to try and get the job done.

Anyone in Saturday’s team, though, probably with the exception of Harry McKirdy, couldn’t really be surprised if they were left out.

Beech is trying to bring a striker in, and January is a tough market for struggling teams. If you are flying, and you need a big hitter to get you over the line, players like that will want to come to a team on the brink of something.

Carlisle won’t be able to entice anyone in like that, though. More likely it will be a case of sifting through under-23 squads, or seeing if there is a veteran out there who is out of favour and wants to come out and get games.