Carlisle United 2 Crawley Town 0: To say Carlisle needed this would be the very pinnacle of obvious statements – a strong contender for both the Nobel Prize for Obvious Statements and the Academy Award for Best Stating of the Obvious. It would be the most obvious statement that ever set foot in Obvioustown.

But still: Carlisle needed this.

And that’s where we should begin, before considering any of Crawley’s flaws. If you have won one in 13, with all the draining away of positivity such a run entails, you are entitled to be first in the queue for some credit when things go right at last, as they did here.

Yes, Carlisle were bright again, very good in the first half, good enough in the second. All that truly matters, given their form, is the result but it was also refreshing to see them attacking effectively, earning the luck of their first goal before they emphatically added a second. 

The divot that helped Joe Riley’s shot past Glenn Morris can be preserved in a display case if it proves the indentation that gets United back to form. No such surface assistance was needed when Omari Patrick dispatched United’s sweet second, and when that one flew in there was certainly a feeling of at least a little of the recent gloom taking the night off.

Chris Beech must have enjoyed a less troubled night too after all the recent strains, and this might lift a fraction of the pressure that always builds in the sort of barren run the Blues have endured. 

It is, naturally, only one win. Carlisle must do this again, keep building, not allow it to be an isolated case. The bustle of their midfield and the aggression of their attack was closer to the levels needed; the levels they have now shown are possible. But let them enjoy the stress-relief of this one for a few hours, before thinking of the next challenges.

News and Star: Joe Riley puts United aheadJoe Riley puts United ahead

Crawley? Well, yes. Not great. They were particularly shaky before the break, and not vastly better after it. John Yems’ side were defensively suspect in the early stages, and at the other end were kept at bay all game by Beech’s back line, a few flickering moments from Tom Nichols aside.

With any luck, the first clean sheet in 14 attempts that resulted should give United’s players more reason to exit a game thinking of what they can do, rather than what they couldn’t. Ashley Nadesan, twice of this parish, was always a danger running off the shoulder when in a blue shirt but had little chance to menace Carlisle here, Aaron Hayden picking his pocket effectively on the odd occasion when things might have got antsy.

The visitors in truth looked rickety from an early stage as Offrande Zanzala spun his man and almost set up Jon Mellish, Tony Craig then nearly overhitting a pass to keeper Morris. It was clearly an opportunity for a side who could summon some persistence and positivity, and United supplied both.

Patrick saw plenty of the ball, rolling his foot over it, changing direction and looking to pin Crawley back with dribbles and feints. After a short period of raw, airborne League Two fayre from both, Rod McDonald volleyed over from decent space before United settled into a more creative style, both Alessandra and Patrick setting up Armer in serious space, the young left-back twice mis-hitting his finish after gliding into room left in the visitors' diamond shape.

It at least showed Carlisle had the wit to find the right gaps and they will probably feel, given recent events, that they were overdue the fortune they then got when Riley shot from outside the box and a rogue divot wrongfooted Morris.

United’s pressure had earned the break, and they really could have quickly had more. Alessandra forced a sharp save from Morris, Callum Guy twice tried his luck and Zanzala headed a lovely George Tanner cross just past the post. 

It was better, brighter – and then went up another notch when Patrick gathered the ball once more, attacked Crawley and, with red-shirted defenders standing off, applied optimism and sound execution to the superb shot which dipped beyond Morris from 30 yards.

News and Star: United team-mates mob Omari Patrick after his goalUnited team-mates mob Omari Patrick after his goal

Where was this, when United were being so sterile in those many other post-January games? It was, you had to conclude, the result of some belief coming back against a side there for the beating, and it almost took them onto a third before a half-time break that, for once, the Blues probably didn’t want to come.

After the break things were more balanced in direction of play, Crawley trying to dredge some momentum from somewhere, a Tarryn Allarakhia cross bringing Paul Farman off his line to punch, and Powell sending a free-kick just over.

United went a little deeper, less dominant and more direct, but by and large kept Yems’ side where they needed them, Nichols hitting fresh air when swinging at one half-chance, and for United Guy almost supplying Zanzala from a set-piece. 

If that was a sign Crawley might be finished off for good, it was even more apparent when the ever-energetic Riley crossed from the right for Zanzala. The striker’s header, though, was parried by Morris, and the keeper excelled to keep out Zanzala’s follow-up which really should have removed all doubt from the equation.

It kept Crawley just about interested still, but crucially they were unable to create anything serious. Patrick’s pace and Zanzala’s hustle almost opened the visitors up on the counter, the former also carried the ball well to frustrate the visitors, Beech's defenders were wise and safe when it mattered, and if you were to say these are all much better things to read than another tale of frustration and woe...well, that would be very happily stating the obvious too.