In the build-up to Saturday’s game, Chris Beech made it clear that he wanted Carlisle to have a really good go at top-of-the-league Swindon, with the backing of their supporters.

Their recent form had put United in better shape and, although their record against high-flying sides had not been good this season, there was every reason to think they could go about things in more confident mood.

The first 15-20 minutes didn’t really happen in the way Beech and United will have hoped. But then we had the Harry McKirdy chance, which got the fans going, as did some of the challenges on McKirdy, and even at 1-0 down you sensed Carlisle were back in the game.

At half-time I imagine Beech will have asked for a little bit more intensity and belief from his lads. He got that in the second half. Swindon probably had the majority of possession but when Carlisle broke, it looked like they could do something.

It was a good point, a good performance and another enjoyable match to watch.

It was noticeable that, after Carlisle equalised through Aaron Hayden, you didn’t fear too much that Swindon were going to come back at them and roll them over. United are harder to beat at the moment and a lot of it comes down to Beech not wanting his players to mess around on the ball at the back.

There are a lot fewer unnecessary risks taken. Yes, play out still, but only when it’s on.

They look more comfortable, and someone who typifies this is Nick Anderton. When looking at Carlisle’s left-back position, we all said we just wanted someone to come in and not have to mention him, because he is doing that steady, consistent sort of job.

That was the case on Saturday. We didn’t have to talk much about Anderton because he quietly went about his business the right way. At centre-half, Byron Webster had a very good game too, and is in much better form, while Hayden is getting better all the time.

We all know he is athletic and can attack the ball in the air, but against Swindon he showed extra confidence on the ball too. He still doesn’t take too many chances, but on Saturday we saw him pass the ball on a couple of occasions when, earlier in the season, he might have got rid a bit too early.

It shows the improvement in him, and the confidence he is gaining.

Further forward, we saw a first start for Callum Guy and, off the bench, a debut for Omari Patrick. The competition for places has certainly increased since the January window; we are no longer looking at United’s bench and wondering how they can change things.

We are thinking: we have so many more options there now.

It is still early days with Guy and I’m sure there will be a lot more to come from him. We have been told he is a marquee signing, having dropped a division and been playing a decent amount in Blackpool’s first team.

He will be finding his feet at United at the moment and Saturday’s game will have done him the world of good.

Up front, Patrick looked busy and quick and it is another good option for Beech, especially after the blow of Joshua Kayode being ruled out with injury. Hopefully he will be back soon.

In terms of the table, the margin from Carlisle to the bottom is now 12 points, and as much as people will still refer to the gap, bottom side Stevenage will also have to win several more games for it to be any sort of risk now.

Without being complacent, it’s hard to see that happening and as that risk recedes, players might enjoy playing a lot more. It’s not as enjoyable when you are under pressure – the recent home game against Walsall, for example, came with a lot of tension, because of the lack of wins – but they got over the line and a run of five games unbeaten has now made things less stressful.

Hopefully that will be reflected in how they play, and we see more progression, more players growing, and more things developing with a view to next season.

On Saturday we saw Nathan Thomas try a couple of things that, earlier, might have earned him some stick. People are more forgiving when you are on a better run and, the more confident you are as a player, the more often certain things will come off.

Everyone at the club will have been anxious about the flood situation on Sunday night and thankfully things, at the time of writing, seem to have eased.

It will have disrupted preparations to the extent of Beech and the players having to find somewhere else to train, but I don’t think it will have unsettled things too much.

When we had the serious floods in the 2004/5 season, we were training all over the place, different venues every day, sometimes just using the Sands Centre for a half-hour slot just to do a bit of running.

Looking back, we probably didn’t give ourselves as much credit as we should, players and coaching staff, for staying strong mentally that season in a difficult predicament.

Hopefully tonight Beech’s players can make the best of the situation and put on another performance against Cheltenham. You don’t fear teams coming to town from higher up the table now; you are starting to think how Carlisle can beat these sides, instead of worrying about being rolled over.


Last Friday’s fans’ forum made it clearer than ever of the hope that a succession plan at the top of the club will eventually materialise.

For John Nixon to admit that he and his fellow owners had run out of cash was a revealing statement.

Well done for being honest. But it’s also remarkable that it got to that stage.

If you’ve run out of cash, then finally you have to admit that your tenure, from the point you took over, has not been great.

Fortunately someone within Brunton Park had a good relationship with Philip Day and struck the deal that sees Edinburgh Woollen Mill as the major player financially now.

Nixon was clear that United want EWM to take a share of the club. Yes, he and the other owners have put up personal guarantees but I don’t think they would have done that had they felt at any stage Day was going to call the EWM loans in.

Hopefully the signs emerging recently, such as the new Eden Valley Sport company Day has set up, will be relevant to Carlisle United and the sort of changes many would like to see.

Perhaps, as things unfold, the club will be run differently next season and there will be different people in and around the building.

Maybe, at that point, it will be time for some to step aside. The hierarchy have said they’ve been looking for someone to take over for some time, and reached the stage where beggars can’t be choosers.

Hopefully we are now approaching the point where the right people will take it on.

If it comes to next season and Day is still perceived to be propping up the existing regime, there would, I’m sure, be more stick and criticism from some.

Would he want that? He will, I’m sure, be aware that supporters now feel that change is afoot, and the news that something decisive has finally happened is the news that everyone is waiting for.