The 1989/90 season is remembered as one of the great agonising failures in Carlisle United’s history. The Blues topped the table in February yet contrived to miss out even on a play-off place come May.

Even now it is painful to revisit the way it came apart. Perhaps it’s more comforting to go back to one of the many days when it seemed fate was smiling on the Cumbrians after all.

The run-in saw United toiling to retrieve something they seemed to have lost. When they beat rivals Exeter City on a rainy February night at Brunton Park to secure first place in Division Four, it was hard to foresee the collapse that would follow.

News and Star: United's Keith Walwyn goes on the attackUnited's Keith Walwyn goes on the attack

An injury-hit team, though, went on to lose the next six games, scoring just one goal in the process. United were hampered by the loss of John Halpin and Ian Dalziel to long-term injuries, and a gruelling run of away trips had stretched Clive Middlemass’s team to breaking point.

They stopped the rot with a 1-0 win over Doncaster, but then things grew yet more challenging when the Blues sold reliable keeper Dave McKellar to Kilmarnock. Bolton Wanderers’ Kevin Rose joined on loan, and his debut saw a 3-2 win over Scunthorpe United.

News and Star: Scarborough's future United striker George Oghani holds the ball upScarborough's future United striker George Oghani holds the ball up

Then came a home encounter with Scarborough. United were still in with a shout of an automatic promotion place, and the way things unfolded against the Seadogs made one think that, just maybe, they were going to spin their season right back around.

Middlemass was able to name an unchanged side for the visit of Ray McHale’s side, whose attack included the future United favourite George Oghani. They were in the lower reaches of the fourth tier, and might have made things awkward for Carlisle had they been able to take their chances.

News and Star: Steve Norris chases the ball down for CarlisleSteve Norris chases the ball down for Carlisle

Indeed, the visitors had the better of things in the first half on a dry and humid afternoon. Carlisle went close on 15 minutes, Alex Jones touching a Keith Walwyn attempt onto the post, but from there it was Scarborough who created the better opportunities.

Defender Lee Hirst, making his Football League debut after joining from the non-league game, came forward in the 35th minute and drew a good stop from Rose.

News and Star: Scarborough clear under pressure from Walwyn, rightScarborough clear under pressure from Walwyn, right

Soon afterwards, former Bolton and Burnley frontman Oghani had the ball in the net, sliding in to hook home John MacDonald’s cross, but he was denied by an offside flag.

Carlisle struggled to get going, although 17-year-old Cumbrian Rob Edwards offered some positive enterprise from left-back, testing Scarborough keeper Ian Ironside with a well-struck shot – yet Middlemass’ team had more reason to be relieved come the goalless interval.

It required a significant uplift – and eventually it came. First, the game came to a painful end for United attacker Paul Proudlock, who was injured in a collision with Ironside early in the second half and saw his place taken by sub Derek Walsh.

News and Star: Walwyn is brought down for United's penaltyWalwyn is brought down for United's penalty

The game then burst into life with chances and then a glut of goals. Oghani failed to convert a Paul Dobson pass for Scarborough, Walwyn failed to beat Ironside for Carlisle, Dobson and MacDonald passed up more visiting chances – before, finally, United struck.

The 64th minute brought the opener, which began with a long Rose kick which Steve Norris knocked inside to Walwyn. He was upended by defender Alan Kamara – and skipper Nigel Saddington was his usually reliable self from the penalty spot.

News and Star: Steve Norris, top centre, gives chaseSteve Norris, top centre, gives chase

If this lifted the 4,304 crowd, it had nothing on United’s second, which came just two minutes later. Craig Goldsmith had joined the Blues from Peterborough in December, filling Halpin’s void on the left wing.

He was without a Carlisle goal from his first 17 league appearances – but that spectacularly changed just two minutes after Saddington’s opener. United broke from the middle and Norris worked it left.

News and Star: Keith Walwyn tries to force in a shotKeith Walwyn tries to force in a shot

From there, Goldsmith lined up his man, stepped inside and, with the outside of his left foot, aimed a peach of a shot which curled and dipped spectacularly over the flailing Ironside at the Waterworks End.

It was goal of the season stuff – and inspired the Blues to go even further. Four minutes later, it was three, when Jones headed Goldsmith’s corner on and Saddington volleyed sweetly into the net.

It was a brilliantly brutal outbreak of scoring and reduced the rest of the game to formalities. Dave Miller and Walsh went close to a Carlisle fourth, while Scarborough finally got one back in the dying moments when Rose spilled a corner and Mick Matthews headed it in.

News and Star: Craig Goldsmith, No11, competes in the air for UnitedCraig Goldsmith, No11, competes in the air for United

It was a goal their general efforts deserved – but the day was truly about United and Goldsmith.

The Blues now sat fourth in the table with nine games to go, while sweeper Paul Fitzpatrick added to the sense of positivity by being named in the PFA team of the season for Division Four.

Manager Middlemass, meanwhile, had a message for the faithful “I wish the supporters would get behind the side right from the start before waiting for something to happen,” he said.

News and Star: Scarborough keeper Ironside punches clear under pressure from Walwyn as Nigel Saddington, centre looks onScarborough keeper Ironside punches clear under pressure from Walwyn as Nigel Saddington, centre looks on

On a cheerier note, he said Goldsmith’s goal was “as good as anything you will see on television” – but the way the season ended had fans reaching for the off switch.

Of the next eight games, they lost four, drew one and won three. It was enough to keep hope alive until the last day – only for a ruinous 5-2 defeat at Maidstone, combined with Chesterfield’s win over Grimsby, to cost the Blues a play-off place.

News and Star: Goal hero Craig Goldsmith with a player of the month prize...Goal hero Craig Goldsmith with a player of the month prize...

It proved a hollow end to a tantalising season, while Goldsmith’s wonder strike turned out to be his only goal in a United shirt. Come the following year he was gone, as, eventually, was Middlemass, as the Blues slid back towards hard times.

United: Rose, Graham, Edwards, Saddington, Jones, Fitzpatrick, Proudlock (Walsh), Miller, Walwyn (Sendall), Norris, Goldsmith.

Scarborough: Ironside, Short (Ash), Kamara, Wilson, Hirst (Clarke), Meyer, Oghani, Matthews, Saunders, Dobson, MacDonald.

Crowd: 4,304.