Wycombe Wanderers 2 Carlisle United 0: The warning was there. The night before, a couple of miles from Adams Park, Oldham Athletic’s team had been staying in a hotel en route to Wealdstone. In their squad: Hallam Hope.

It was Hope who famously burgled a goal for Carlisle United in 2019 by creeping up on an opposition goalkeeper. Four years later, the Blues fell victim – not to a goal, but a damaging red card from the exact same method.

And they really can’t afford this sort of slapstick in a season which is difficult enough with 11 men and no farce. With ten, and a keeper (Jokull Andresson) banished for handling outside his box having failed to check his wingmirrors for Sam Vokes, they cleared Wycombe Wanderers’ path to victory instead of obstructing it.

It's true that Carlisle were better a man down in this game than at maximum numbers. In the second half they found some gusto and should have been level. Their depletion, though, meant a permanent pressure was still there, a constant existence on a tightrope, and it finally told when Vokes turned Sam Lavelle to add to Luke Leahy’s first-half penalty.

Matt Bloomfield’s team, in the full analysis, had not needed to work hard enough to scoop up the points. Numerically they benefited from what Paul Simpson described as “amateurish” on Andresson’s part, and territorially they gained from a back-foot Carlisle start and a spot-kick which, although debated, was hardly the refereeing howler of the year in its awarding.

News and Star: Paul Simpson prepares to send on Tomas Holy after Andresson's red cardPaul Simpson prepares to send on Tomas Holy after Andresson's red card (Image: Barbara Abbott)

United, through their own faults, were for too long on their heels at a ground which has offered solid League One quality for some time now. As well as their keeper’s mental lights being off, they failed to engage Wycombe, failed to start with the bravado they had found at Lincoln in their previous away game.

It is no use rediscovering some of that only when chasing, when the basis of the game has been established. It’s true that Lavelle should have rippled the net from an Owen Moxon corner, also true that Sean Maguire was one last-ditch challenge from levelling. Fin Back, too, was the width of a post from a goal.

Yet the margins for Carlisle felt narrow all game long. It was another afternoon where they did not particularly appear to have the firepower, individually and generally, to trouble a top-half side. Richard Keogh was named Wycombe’s man of the match against his former club, whose fans warmly greeted him, but he was not taken into many uncomfortable places overall.

News and Star: Brandon Hanlan gets away from Sam LavelleBrandon Hanlan gets away from Sam Lavelle (Image: Barbara Abbott)

As for Andresson, his first-team goose must be cooked for the moment. His initial arrival into the team saw some good things but his goalkeeping has been too eventful. After the penalty he conceded at Port Vale (for which Simpson exonerated him), another against Derby and an offside reprieve from an error at Stevenage, Saturday’s moment increased the wrong sort of tally.

Tomas Holy was dropped for less. The former No1, welcomed back loudly by the away end as a substitute here, warrants a fresh run in the XI which starts against Peterborough on Tuesday night.

United had 405 fans, including four of the fruit-salad wearing Piataks, in the WhiffAway Stand and the smell of a home win was all too strong in the opening stages. Jasper Pattenden passed up a good early chance which arrived via the quickly familiar route of Garath McCleary putting the Blues’ defence on notice.

News and Star: United protest in vain after Andresson's sending offUnited protest in vain after Andresson's sending off (Image: Barbara Abbott)

The 36-year-old troubled Lavelle with some skilful, focused running in the channels, and United also had the issue of Vokes’ movement as he dropped between the lines to link attacks in the air and on the ground. Too often the experienced No9 collected or worked the ball unchallenged – United unclear whether to hold their line or track him tightly.

With Brandon Hanlan another lively danger, it was a Wycombe attack of awkward variety. Keogh and Chris Forino went close and though Luke Plange, lobbing over the bar on the break, offered a reply, Carlisle’s passing sequences were paltry, their presence in the home half occasional.

Their last-ditch work was, until the 29th minute, just about good enough, Lavelle alert to deny Hanlan and Andresson deceptively composed at crosses – but then Vokes, loitering on the goalline, raced back to ambush the goalie, who handled outside the area as well as possibly tripping the striker as he scrambled to react. Holy, on for the sacrificed Plange, watched the resulting Josh Scowen free-kick sail wide, but the reprieve was brief.

News and Star: Owen Moxon competes at the far postOwen Moxon competes at the far post (Image: Barbara Abbott)

Back cracked the woodwork from United’s best first-half attack but then the Blues again failed to prevent McCleary getting the run on Paul Huntington, who took too much man as well as ball, according to ref Scott Tallis. Leahy sent Holy the wrong way and only a Back intervention prevented Vokes adding a quick second.

Things were ripe for reinvention. Joe Garner arrived, Huntington went off, Mellish went from defence to midfield and back again, Jordan Gibson fanned to the left and United, in the second half, started to show some poise and purpose on the ball. Gibson was at the heart of their best spell, which saw Maguire denied on the break then Lavelle somehow heading a few inches the wrong side of the post.

News and Star: United's 405-strong away following included four members of the Piatak family, front centre - Tom II, Nick, Jenna and Alice - all sporting the Blues' 'fruit salad' away coloursUnited's 405-strong away following included four members of the Piatak family, front centre - Tom II, Nick, Jenna and Alice - all sporting the Blues' 'fruit salad' away colours (Image: Barbara Abbott)

Carlisle were in it but – familiar refrain – could not take advantage when on top. Wycombe then finished them off when Vokes, having been denied by Holy, soon received the ball back, turned Lavelle and found the bottom corner.

How United could have done with a No9 of the Wales international’s stature in the game’s formative stages. A swathe of substitutions did nothing to tilt things the other way and, for all Carlisle’s efforts, there were cigars hanging from the lips of Bloomfield’s defenders by the end – and Andresson’s ears ringing. For now his first-team status, like Vokes on Saturday, is surely behind him.