Carlisle United 2 Shrewsbury Town 0: Exhale, exhale. Then do it again, 40 more times. This is how it has to be for Carlisle to win in League One – fully extended, going the absolute distance, stretching themselves thoroughly, muscles screaming by the end, the glow totally worth it.

Not even a bird doing what comes naturally on Paul Simpson’s shirt, in the middle of his post-match interviews, could stain United’s day. That supposedly lucky mark came after the Blues, finally, had enjoyed a break before doing what was necessary to make the most of it.

The result is not the only significant thing. It is the fact United now know they can get such a result. They are third-tier winners for the first time since April 2014, the psychological “impostor syndrome” Simpson diagnosed a couple of weeks ago dealt a significant blow.

An own goal in the 57th minute was followed by some effective game management, full-frontal defending, proficient substitutions and a classic clincher from Joe Garner. Brunton Park boomed at full-time, briefly took its attention fully from castigating Morgan Feeney to embracing Simpson’s team as winners.

News and Star: Morgan Feeney and Paul Huntington go head to headMorgan Feeney and Paul Huntington go head to head (Image: Ben Holmes)

They deserved every scrap of it, team and supporters. Carlisle, after a no-win, low-scoring start to 2023/24, were never likely to deal with both situations fluently. It had to be dug out – and so it was.

The way the game finished, though, was evidence of how it can feel when stuff suddenly starts going your way. United broke at their opponents with appetite and a new optimism. Terry Ablade, the lightning-quick substitute, was an emblem for this fresh feeling, giving Shrewsbury defenders a head start and then gobbling up the gap like Pacman eats dots.

His enterprise allowed Garner to finish things off: two strikers combining, happily, after so much angst about Carlisle’s goalscoring potential. And yes, this is just one win. And no, this season isn’t about to get any easier.

News and Star: Luke Plange is denied by Chey DunkleyLuke Plange is denied by Chey Dunkley (Image: Ben Holmes)

But more hopeful? Surely. There can be no more “bleating” (Simpson’s word) about a lack of wins, and Carlisle’s players will turn up for training on Monday reflecting on what they can do, not what they can’t.

This has, at least, to lift United onto a new rung of belief, and also give Simpson some more welcome selection thoughts, rather than simply trying to work out how to jumpstart their season, points and goals-wise.

It proved a bitter return, all in all, for Feeney, who was booked, booed, beaten and involved in an angry exchange with Simpson after the game. The former captain now drifts into Carlisle’s past as 2023/24 further unfolds.

The most vital trick they finally worked at on this warm, sunny day was confidence. They kept at things until something opened up. Such confidence was not immediately apparent in their attacking, was never likely to be given their pre-game record, yet eventually they accepted they were better than Shrewsbury, who were mediocre (and made to look so, in fairness, by Carlisle’s appetite at the front, middle and back).

News and Star: Jokull Andresson takes charge on his home debutJokull Andresson takes charge on his home debut (Image: Barbara Abbott)

Blinking into the light after a late transfer deadline day, Joshua Kayode here to watch after his eleventh-hour move, Carlisle gradually forced themselves onto Shrewsbury after an even start had seen attempts by Luke Plange and, at the other end, Mal Benning.

Shrewsbury’s threat appeared to be concentrated in the sometimes elusive movement of Dan Udoh – yet another of these good-quality League One attackers the Blues will face every week. Yet seldom was Jokull Andresson, on his full debut, extended with emergency saves. United’s play grew sharper, Fin Back getting into good flow on the right, Jordan Gibson and Sean Maguire showing invention on the ball, Owen Moxon a whisker from threading the latter clean through.

Carlisle lacked the precision and care with their final movement that could have opened things up sooner. Everything else was of a solid level. More half-chances came via Plange and Sam Lavelle, a Gibson shot that Marko Marosi scrambled wide, Plange just failing to supply Maguire from a highly promising position the Irishman had himself created from nothing, Callum Guy bolstering all this with outstanding midfield industry.

News and Star: Sean Maguire and Owen Moxon celebrate the openerSean Maguire and Owen Moxon celebrate the opener (Image: Ben Holmes)

Shrewsbury had only finished tamely from a couple of decent areas and the game, plainly, was there for Carlisle...yet so had been previous games that had foundered on their scoring struggles.

To their credit, the recent past did not infect them in the second half. They remained stronger, more dynamic. Moxon, at times, was purring and Plange was excellent in his line-leading endeavour. Corners came and corners went, then another was guided to the near post by Moxon where Maguire darted and Tom Bayliss, in ungainly fashion, put it into his own net.

The derision towards Feeney increased. Plange hit the post, Chay Dunkley and Udoh had chances in response, the latter defiantly denied by Andresson. The substitution phase then followed and, though Jon Mellish had to be on full alert to thwart Kieran Phillips, Max Mata missed a decent headed chance and Lavelle and Paul Huntington had to excel at times, it was Simpson’s changes that took heaviest effect.

News and Star: Sub Terry Ablade shows his paceSub Terry Ablade shows his pace (Image: Ben Holmes)

Ablade was transformational, whizzing onto lost causes, keeping unlikely moments alive, also showing spring in aerial contests, his sudden acceleration pushing Shrewsbury further back than they’d have liked.

Carlisle have missed this tactical card to play. Eventually it settled the game when the relentless Ablade worked a crossing chance which saw the ball elude Alfie McCalmont but find another sub, Garner, in sufficient space to score and send the Warwick Road End, and all other parts, merrily ablaze.

We then had the fiery reaction from Feeney to Simpson: always the sign of a day gone sourly. For Carlisle, though, the feeling was oh so sweet.