Port Vale 1 Carlisle United 0: Most of the heat was at one end after this latest defeat, but it’s at the other where the light simply has to go on soon for Carlisle United. Mistakes will come, and they will take their toll, but Jon Mellish and/or Jokull Andresson won’t do this every week.

Not scoring – that’s what the Blues are doing most weeks. Only Cheltenham Town, with a big, fat zero from five games, have scored fewer than Paul Simpson’s team in the EFL so far.

As such, they need to risk getting their fingers jammed in the transfer window if that’s what it takes. If 11pm comes on Friday without some sort of emphatic help to United’s front line, the dangers attached to this supposedly refreshing return to League One will be ever-present.

They already are, in fact. Paul Simpson, once he had registered his “absolute rage” at Mellish’s throw-in which he blamed for debutant Andresson’s crucial slip at Vale Park, admitted that Carlisle’s leeway is limited when it comes to sorting their scoring problems out.

“We’re going to have to give ourselves a slap,” the manager said, “because otherwise this wonderful opportunity we’ve got at League One football is not going to be a pleasant one.”

There was more talk of United’s attacking issues, the potential Simpson insists is within those present, the “bravery” he believes is needed to convert opportunities, but it feels a leap to imagine that enough goals are waiting to burst out of the present squad.

News and Star: Owen Moxon challenges Oliver ArblasterOwen Moxon challenges Oliver Arblaster (Image: Richard Parkes)

At the very least, they have to disprove these early season doubts. At most, they need the assistance that a gamechanging No9 (and good luck finding that, with less than a week to go and with United’s budget limitations) could provide.

This remains the dominant issue despite the broadside Simpson aimed at his longest-serving player at full-time here. United’s manager felt it was “unprofessional” for Mellish to give Andresson a throw to deal with, rather than send it safely up the line.

Mellish, doubtless, is strong enough to take that rebuke. It is true that the potential for problems can be removed in such moments; Simpson’s perfectionism won’t have it any other way. It’s also, though, fair to consider a keeper equipped to handle a situation better than Andresson did, as he failed completely to control the throw and then brought Ethan Chislett down for Port Vale’s decisive penalty.

The initial decision, then the troubled execution: responsibility was there with both, and also in United’s response, which was short. Once more, they were in this game, built decent spells in it, looked, on a general, competitive basis, to be the equal of a side with 12 months’ more League One experience than them.

Their sterility, though, puts a high price on their efforts, good or bad, at the back. Mellish and Andresson may not be minded to answer back right now but they and others are entitled to think: any chance, you lot up there, of helping us out a little?

News and Star: An acrobatic attempt by MoxonAn acrobatic attempt by Moxon (Image: Richard Parkes)

And so, we can consider the patterns of this game, some of them good from Carlisle’s point of view, but the conclusion is the same. Reverting to a three centre-back system, Simpson saw his side withstand a gusty Port Vale start before they rose into the contest with some bright and persistent play.

The first 15 minutes were bracing, Mitch Clark knifing down the home right and the Valiants’ sharp passing and movement too good for United. From this squall James Plant hit the side-netting, James Wilson cleared the bar, the same player headed wide and there seemed little time for Andresson, preferred to Tomas Holy in a major selection call by Simpson, to get his eye in.

Yet when United settled they looked deceptively dangerous. With the recalled Alfie McCalmont linking moves with useful pace, Owen Moxon shot wide, Sean Maguire missed the target from a break and Callum Guy saw a thunderbolt clawed away from the top corner by Connor Ripley.

It spoke well of Carlisle’s competitive character and growing composure. More crosses engaged Ripley, more corners pinned Vale back. Nothing, though, ultimately resulted and the hosts, who ended the half back on the front foot, applied it to United’s throat in the 50th minute through that careless, unforced error of a penalty concession from which Wilson scored with ease.

News and Star: Jokull Andresson upends Ethan ChislettJokull Andresson upends Ethan Chislett (Image: Richard Parkes)

And this – this is the period where Carlisle failed the examination. This is where they did not work Ripley hard enough in response. There were reasonable moves, good wide positions, a glancing miss by Maguire, other good deliveries from Fin Back and substitute Jordan Gibson - who applied some focus to the comeback effort - and nada at the end of it all.

Terry Ablade, the substitute brought onto the attacking left, had few opportunities to unroll his pace or finishing potential. Jack Armer, arriving onto a Gibson cross, sliced a half-chance wide and Moxon warmed Ripley’s gloves. Yet these were never vastly convincing moves and though Andresson was defiant at a couple of Vale moments that could have killed it, the dispiriting sense, in added time, was that though Carlisle had lots of the ball, they were never entirely sure what to do with it.

“We will keep working,” said Simpson, referring to the training-ground and the market. He knows as well as everyone that United’s shortcomings at this higher level need no further illumination. It’s time for them to rage against it, absolutely.