Callum Guy raises his left hand, steps forward and delivers, and when the ball loops into the box, it is as though Fraser Horsfall has just been confronted by a ghost.

There is no Carlisle player within a yard of him. Yet the Northampton Town defender, one of League Two’s best, has totally lost his bearings.

Already, something outside the norm is happening. This is the first tell. Instead of meeting the free-kick with a commanding clearance, Horsfall, the visiting captain, finds himself facing his own goalline.

Discombobulated, he thrusts out a left arm, and falls over. Again - WTF? If this was happening on stage you'd have no problem in classing the production as a farce.

News and Star: Anticipation: Gibson places the ball down for the penaltyAnticipation: Gibson places the ball down for the penalty

The moment is so random, so unexpected, that it takes a second to register. Only after a pause do shouts go up for the penalty, followed by a rumbling roar.

From there…well, you know what comes next. Brunton Park is, for half a minute or so, a bottle of fizzy liquid shaken hard. Then Jordan Gibson scores, and off comes the lid.

At this point, it’s harder to find the words, and not just for those of us writing them. As Gibson’s penalty hits the net, James Phillips stops commentating on BBC Radio Cumbria. On television it’s easier to let the action do the talking. On the wireless, it’s a braver broadcaster who will zip it when something momentous has happened.

Yet United’s man on the mic instinctively knows. It is not a time for crafted comment, profound exclamation or even bewildered shouting. Bedlam has taken hold of the stadium, and it requires its say.

News and Star: United fans celebrateUnited fans celebrate

What we experienced last Saturday was not just noise, but a feeling. Those couple of minutes, from penalty awarded to penalty taken to the absorption of victory, were as perfect as it gets watching football.

Not in style terms. Not because it was the game at its most refined. But because it made the heart clatter against the ribs. It’s why we go, isn’t it?

It's better, of course, when its a relative rarity. Who, quite frankly, saw that sort of emotional rush coming when Carlisle started this season in sterile fashion and proceeded to go through it as though they really fancied a few days out at Maidenhead and Wealdstone in 2022/23?

News and Star: Fans went bananas after last weekend's late winnerFans went bananas after last weekend's late winner

Who, when trudging out of Brunton Park after the Swindon game wondering not if the Blues would be relegated but when, thought two weeks later they’d be climbing on the dugouts, hollering themselves hoarse and then skipping down Warwick Road, physically lifted by the madness of things?

Who imagined Carlisle’s ground would be a place of escapism once more, so soon?

It’s done it again, hasn't it, this daft game? Reminded us why it’s worth the candle. Dredged up another set of feelings just when, let’s be honest, we could all do with a lift right now.

Turn on the news and the world is a place of unrelenting devastation. Pass the petrol pumps or check the latest electricity bill and feel the bead of sweat forming.

News and Star: United's late win last weekend provide a huge emotional liftUnited's late win last weekend provide a huge emotional lift

Look certain ways at football itself and feel the temptation grow to do something else entirely with your spare time. Consider the top of the game: the sportswashing, the coma-inducing ‘VAR rows’, the silly money, the disconnected players, the ‘latest crisis at Old Trafford’ (snore), the ref moans, the NFTs, the Twitter mea culpas, the we-go-again insincerity, other bull.

Look at Carlisle too. Prats invading the pitch. Morons half-inching flags. Lowlifes breaking into Brunton Park, stealing Xboxes from children, buggies from groundstaff and knackering the big screen.

At times you look at what's in front of you and conclude that, no, we can’t have the nice things. We just can't. The nice things don’t belong in football, because soon enough someone comes along and pours a bucket of something unpleasant over them.

Isn’t it safer and less of an emotional investment, all things considered, to pull up a stool in front of a big screen, watch the live game and a bit of Jeff Stelling, and go home?

Possibly. Probably. But then, inside the crumbly four walls of Brunton Park, comes a moment you simply can’t get in the comfy surroundings of the boozer.

News and Star: Watching the Premier League on a big screen doesn't come close to moments like last weekend's finale at Brunton Park (photo: PA)Watching the Premier League on a big screen doesn't come close to moments like last weekend's finale at Brunton Park (photo: PA)

Last Saturday’s early Premier League match was Brighton & Hove Albion versus Liverpool. No doubt a good many happy Reds fans watched the visitors’ victory here in Carlisle.

But here’s a confident guess: none of them felt the heart twang and shudder like 8,000 people did in that operatic 94th minute on Warwick Road.

There is support and loyalty in all sorts of forms, but then there are the marrow-deep feelings that were tapped when Guy crossed and Horsfall handled and Gibson breathed in, breathed out, and fizzed a football into the bottom of Northampton’s net.

From this shabby misadventure of a Carlisle United season came a wild, enriching, almost medicinal moment for a mass of men, women and children; an eyebulging, laughter-inducing release of all sorts of pent-up thoughts and fears.

And yes – they’re trivial fears, by and large, when they concern the ability of some men to kick a ball accurately and well. They don’t take the sting out of daily life or wider trouble.

But, my goodness me, when they’re exploded as they were in that mad minute or so last weekend, it still doesn’t half feel good. It doesn’t half suspend you somewhere a few feet higher for an afternoon, an evening, even a full weekend.

Stupid game. Ridiculously, illogically, wonderfully stupid game.