Leyton Orient 2 Carlisle United 3: This wasn’t so much a dead rubber as a positively alive rubber; a rubber drunk on freedom, a rubber that’s mad for it, a rubber with jump-leads attached, a rubber that’s had its two jabs and can’t be doing with staying indoors any longer.

Maybe this is simply what happens when all the tension and jeopardy goes from a season, and all that’s left is a ding-dong of a football match, full of turmoil, flaws and, somewhere in the chaos, a few good things.

All it lacked was true meaning in terms of a promotion standing or something else longer-lasting. Carlisle started the day in 10th and, despite their committed, added-time victory, finished it there; Leyton Orient were 11th at 3pm and still 11th at 4.45pm.

It was, in the end, simply a highly colourful way of standing still. You could only imagine the bedlam had something been riding on it (and had fans been there). That prospect was denied both these teams in the previous week. Yet instead of settling for dull, mid-table fayre, fair play: they went at it.

Give them some appreciation for that. The quality of the game was not always high but it was certainly eventful and entertaining. Sometimes – even in the context of recent disappointment – that can be enough. And the Blues won.

“I think the game itself epitomises the whole season,” Chris Beech said, after George Tanner’s scudding late winner in a game of five goals, three penalties, two comebacks, two woodwork-hits and two injuries. By this the United head coach was stressing that he has a totally committed team who fight against misfortune and challenging events.

Over the campaign that refers to Carlisle’s Covid and weather-hit winter. Over their 45th game of 46 it meant the two soft goals they conceded, both sides’ reluctance to score from the spot and that old United habit of never taking a straight road when a much more scenic one is available.

Did it tell us much about next season? Not a lot, other than the traits of those players who will still be here and the rough edges that still need to be worked on. Beech declined to give his selection a serious spin, so the future of such as Cedwyn Scott, it seems, will be judged on his training ground and reserve team work.

As for those who were selected – well, they certainly made it compelling viewing, not always for the right reasons, but eventually so. The game was prised instantly open when Orient’s Conor Wilkinson profited from Nick Anderton’s defensive misjudgement and this triggered a first half when anything that could happen generally did.

There was a missed Wilkinson sitter, heroically cleared off the line by Anderton. There was James Brophy’s repeated left-sided running, which twisted Tanner’s blood once or twice. There was Dan Happe’s clumsy foul on Offrande Zanzala, and the Carlisle striker’s tame, saved penalty. There was the hamstring injury to Zanzala, and Beech’s summoning of Jon Mellish.

This was the 22nd minute, still not a quarter through. Next, Orient got behind United a further time and Magnus Norman upended Wilkinson. The keeper atoned with a fine stop from Dan Kemp’s penalty and the idea anyone, even Orient’s 39-year-old player-boss Jobi McAnuff, could impose some calm on this game was about as likely as the Prime Minister going to B&M for his wallpaper.

United, with four attackers, simply had to engage Orient in their half, and did. They got their leveller when Aaron Hayden and Joshua Kayode kept a Callum Guy corner alive for Mellish to rifle home, yet their defensive assurance under pressure was not yet firm, and Hayden’s accidental through-ball for Kemp to restore Orient’s lead was a grim sight.

The half, though, did not end before Kayode had come the width of the post from a second leveller, and it has to be said that Carlisle stepped things up well after the break, leading Joe Riley to dip a shot against the bar before Lewis Alessandra outfoxed McAnuff to win the game’s third penalty, the frontman burying this one to Lawrence Vigouroux’s right.

There were still 36 minutes to go. Both managers made changes and the contest, from here, was not quite so off its face. United’s best footballing spell faded into a period of Orient pressure, which required Hayden and Anderton to be watchful (which they were), likewise Norman, who saved well at his near post from Wilkinson.

Yet United came again, attacking pockets of space, Mellish putting himself about, Ethan Walker coming on then going off again (a back problem, Beech said), and finally the last break – right-back Tanner starting it and, after Alessandra had pulled to the right, scampering forward to finish it with a left-footed 90th-minute daisy-slicer.

“I was just so tired, I couldn’t be bothered celebrating, so I just stuck my arms up,” the matchwinner said. An exhausting spectacle indeed, after an exhausting campaign. But – and this really can’t be stressed enough, especially after all these weird, anxious, sterile Covid times – tremendous, tremendous fun.