Bolton Wanderers 1 Carlisle United 3: One of the joys and also, perhaps, fears of promotion is wondering which players, and indeed how many, will step up the best, will go from League Two to League One the smoothest…

And we’ll briefly pause the match report there, because here’s Jordan Gibson to put his afternoon at Bolton into words. “I can’t really explain it, to be honest.”

Thanks, Jordan. Now off you go to stare some more at that match ball while the rest of us do the explaining, the praising, the stacking up of compliments for this thunderingly good and quite uplifting Carlisle United day.

Their best since Wembley? Without a doubt – in feeling, in atmosphere, in big-stage conviction. United are away winners at this level for the first time since 2014, winners at Bolton for the first time since 1977, but the cloudburst of these happy stats needs to dry up for a moment.

For we have to start with Gibson, finish with him too. This was a command performance by the man who has risen higher than anyone else since United moved up a division. A penalty, an ambitiously-hit second, then a swaggering run into an empty net. One, two, three. Not bad, eh, as Taylor Charters might say.

News and Star: Jon Mellish's own goal puts United behindJon Mellish's own goal puts United behind (Image: Richard Parkes)

The 25-year-old’s ability has always been present but now it is a case of maximum delivery, as well as the warming sight of a young player realising he is good enough not just to cope with this level for the first time, but to excel at it.

What a place Gibson’s head must have been on Saturday night, knowing how he’s making these steps, knowing how the more challenging days of his career – and every career has them – are now an even smaller speck in his rear-view mirror.

The Toughsheet Community Stadium, one of League One’s finest venues, bent the knee to Carlisle’s number seven. Even his third goal, arguably the simplest, was testament to his current state.

News and Star: Kyle Dempsey trips Sean Maguire for United's first penaltyKyle Dempsey trips Sean Maguire for United's first penalty (Image: Richard Parkes)

Counter-attacking to score, when the opposition keeper has come up for a corner, isn’t always the doddle it seems, as anyone who remembers Magno Vieira will know. Gibson, carrying the ball at speed in the 95th minute, had Alfie McCalmont to the left of him, Terry Ablade the right, and a Bolton defender in front.

Gibson processed the situation instinctively. He dropped the shoulder, beat the man and clipped the ball into the net: a man at the peak of his confidence, judgment and ability. A surging away end welcomed this glorious moment.

News and Star: Joe Garner's penalty is savedJoe Garner's penalty is saved (Image: Richard Parkes)

And what an away end: 4,407 Cumbrians, many of whom had to defy late train cancellations, made both tiers of Bolton’s Franking Sense South Stand shake. That was the case aside from United’s performance. When that performance turned out to be good, it shook some more.

The Blues, all in all, made Bolton sound quiet and look ordinary, a feat beyond many in League One. They showed nerve to come from behind, nerve to keep going after a squandered penalty, nerve in their defending, nerve in their work and nerve in how they went after Ian Evatt’s side.

It needs to be a landmark result in their season, that we all know. But let us also drink it in for what it was: a supremely enjoyable and consummate day down the M6 and M61 – the kind of day that existed only in twisted fantasies in the pre-Simpson period.

News and Star: Gibson makes no mistake with Carlisle's second spot-kickGibson makes no mistake with Carlisle's second spot-kick (Image: Richard Parkes)

On what felt like a warm afternoon on loan from summer, patterns quickly established. Bolton would look to pin United through the wide running of Josh Dacres-Cogley and Randell Williams, Carlisle would aim to counter through the intelligence of Gibson and Sean Maguire and the smart midfield positioning of McCalmont.

Broadly speaking Bolton’s method took first effect, but only slightly. Will Forrester and Williams were involved in early raids but it was United, through Owen Moxon, who had the first serious attempt on goal.

Fin Back, down the right, was as sharp as the contest demanded, while Sam Lavelle was adhesive to Victor Adeboyejo in Carlisle’s box. Bolton’s opener, when the dangerous Dacres-Cogley cruised onto Forrester’s pass and saw his cross diverted into his own goal by Jon Mellish, seemed the hosts’ cue to put their foot down.

News and Star: Gibson fires United in front 20 minutes from timeGibson fires United in front 20 minutes from time (Image: Richard Parkes)

Yet it never happened. George Thomason miskicked from a very good position but then Carlisle made their staged response: Maguire tripped by Kyle Dempsey and Joe Garner’s penalty saved by Nathan Baxter, but then, via more hungry Blues work, a rash handball by Eoin Toal and Gibson’s deadlier spot-kick.

It felt like United, having been denied so often in such situations, were going to get their season’s allocation of penalties in one game from ref Sebastian Stockbridge. It also felt like containing Bolton, and the so far becalmed Dion Charles, for a second 45 minutes was going to take all of their powers.

Yet Carlisle were more ambitious than that. They set victory in their sights. They should have scored early in the second half, Baxter denying Maguire after McCalmont’s supply on the break – and, after Charles had failed from a tight angle, Baxter thwarting Maguire again with smart reflexes.

News and Star: Gibson leaves the pitch with the match ballGibson leaves the pitch with the match ball (Image: Richard Parkes)

Bolton’s fans tried to rouse Evatt’s team from a ponderous state. Carlisle’s defending, led by Lavelle and his goal-saving contributions, was up-front and error free and their midfield, where Moxon often got the better of his fellow Cumbrian Dempsey, as busy as a hive. Then, in the last 20, they seized it: Gibson’s deflected dipper beating Baxter after a corner, and then, at the end, that length-of-the-pitch third.

In between, there was some Bolton pressure, but only after a fashion. Nothing that really put the Blues on notice. Nothing, certainly, as inspired as Gibson, whose message needs to be heeded by everyone in blue after this: we can step up, we are good enough, we have every right to days like these. Let there be more.