Exeter boss Matt Taylor admitted Jon Mellish’s red card had a major bearing on his side’s victory over Carlisle United.

The Grecians made it 20 games unbeaten as they edged past the Blues 2-1.

Mellish’s dismissal came at the end of a first half when United had competed well against their high-flying hosts.

Sam Nombe and Jake Caprice then scored after the break, with Jordan Gibson getting United’s consolation.

Home manager Taylor admitted his side were not at their best in the victory over Keith Millen’s strugglers.

He said: “To get to 20 games unbeaten is an incredible achievement for the group of players, and to win five on the bounce the same.

“It’s such a competitive league and you saw why in this game.

“In terms of performance…not flat but not at our best. We found it difficult to break the opposition down and we didn’t put their goalkeeper and centre-halves under enough pressure in the first half.

“The sending-off has a big influence on the game in terms of the way they and we set up.

“We had to be patient and work the ball, and I’m pleased we made an impact off the bench to win the game.”

Taylor said Blues midfielder Mellish could have no complaints about the straight red card for a challenge on Archie Collins.

“Live, I thought it was a poor tackle,” he told his club's media channels, “and everyone said [the same] after watching the footage

“I don’t think the lad meant to do Archie any real harm but if you leave the ground with two feet you put yourself in danger.”

Taylor said his side allowed Carlisle back into things late on at St James' Park.

“It was our halfway line defending when attacking the opposition box – everyone was thinking ‘3-0’ as opposed to the fact there’s still danger in that game.

“There was a bit of quality from Brennan [Dickenson to set up Jordan Gibson] and we didn’t cover areas as we should. Mindset is a big thing in football.”

Exeter went second while United dropped to second bottom. Taylor added: “There’s never a banker in League Two. We’ve got to keep to our principles. The effort was fine; we lacked quality at times but they [Carlisle] were a hard team to break down.”