Scunthorpe United 0 Carlisle United 1: In the 60th minute, Ryan Loft ran into Scunthorpe’s penalty area and rammed the ball into the net.

What’s that? You want a few more words? Ok – but it might be a struggle.

This wasn’t exactly an afternoon for colourful prose. Essays will not be written about Scunthorpe 0 Carlisle 1 on August 31, 2019. The highlights video was easily distilled.

Even the manager of the winning team, Steven Pressley, knew what he had witnessed. He told the written media his team had been “poor” and by the time he had made it up the steps to the radio, this verdict had been downgraded to “rubbish”.

Perhaps that scathing honesty came from a place of inner satisfaction. There was no hard-luck story to tell, no mining of “positives” from defeat, no flattering picture to be painted for the sensitive. Carlisle had won away from home and, for once, it was possible to strip away the rest.

The story is simple enough to tell. The first half was, from United’s point of view, desperate in an attacking sense. They mustered no shots and had to defend their honour against the worst team of this fledgling season.

The only victory at the 45-minute stage was that they had made it to half-time intact, a notable step forward from recent weeks. Then Pressley made his half-time substitution, the more physical Loft for the service-starved Elias Sorensen, and Carlisle now had a means of altering the game.

They hardly turned into a scintillating force as a result but Loft gave Scunthorpe’s centre-halves a few uncomfortable moments, and was also sharp enough on the floor to pounce when Carlisle’s one serious chance came his way.

In League Two, that is sometimes enough. The fourth tier may be a more diverse collection of styles these days and, until now, Pressley’s Carlisle have not looked like a team with many gritty 1-0s in them.

The old-fashioned smash-and-grab, though, remains available for a side ready to take it. As bereft as United were for stages of this game, the fact Scunthorpe failed to convert their own pressure meant there was a chance a side used to losing would, steadily, surrender a bit of hope.

Their defending for Loft’s winner was of a side accustomed to buckling eventually. Their attempt to get something back in the closing half-hour was of a team with certain abilities but no emphasis in the opposition box.

Pressley’s centre-halves were on happier ground. Adam Collin either plucked corners from the air or saw them fly past his posts. Regan Slater, Scunthorpe’s former United loanee, ran himself silly for the home cause but lacked accomplices.

And so it came: a first away win in the league since January, and it is the outcome rather than the performance where the best conclusions can be taken. This removing of a “monkey from our back”, as Pressley put it, should make Carlisle think they can win like this, on occasion.

It does not always have to be attacking in numbers and at pace. There is merit in security. Whether they can do it against better teams is another question but this victory should at least help psychologically, and also keep at bay more damning verdicts about their August form.

These teams lined up with the worst defensive records in the fourth tier but also one win between them. Scunthorpe’s tight ground saw United squeezed of inspiration and Paul Hurst’s team gain territory without showing devil.

Carlisle could not make any impression on the home half. Yann Songo’o was an extra defensive midfield barrier they could not outmanoeuvre and he also had the first good chance, which was cleared off the line by Nathan Thomas.

This came from one of many set-pieces taken by Slater, who had a more attacking role than in his Carlisle spell. He saw plenty of the ball because United, after passing it along the back, were eventually sending it forward without any wit.

Matty Lund, Slater, Abo Eisa and George Miller all enjoyed half-chances. United looked leggy. Harry McKirdy and Thomas made no headway at all and then they were opened up down the right, Alex Gilliead crossing and Slater heading it wide.

By the time Nathaniel Knight-Percival had intervened to stop Eisa scoring close to half-time the wait for Carlisle to produce anything had become chronic. Nil-nil, though, always offers a glimmer, especially in a league when consistency is so volatile.

Loft’s arrival did not work instant magic but the striker won a couple of headers and went into an aggressive 50-50 with Andy Butler. Thomas was then released to cross and there was at last a sense of intent.

Then, after Rory McArdle had missed a good headed Scunthorpe chance and Collin had tidily rescued a weak Knight-Percival backpass, United scored. Loft deserved the break through his jump which unsettled Butler, the defender's misdirected header falling to McKirdy, whose touch sent Loft through. The finish was low, towards the near post and will feel even better for the young striker that Carlisle then turned it into a winner.

Scunthorpe’s final ball was deficient and United had a sniff of a second, but McKirdy’s shot was blocked and Thomas was denied a penalty when challenged by keeper Rory Watson.

In the remainder, Carlisle toiled to keep play in front of them and collected a fistful of bookings. The only time Collin's reflexes were truly tested was when Lund met Slater’s corner with a bullet header.

Otherwise, lots of thud and blunder, set-pieces, a silent sense of resignation settling over Glanford Park and, finally, welcome scenes at the away end, where Carlisle’s travelling supporters at last got to cheer a win.

They won’t mind too much, you suspect, if the wait for the next one is shorter, however ugly or beautiful it is in the making.

Scunthorpe: Watson, Clarke, Brown, McArdle, Butler (McGahey 62), Songo'o, Lund, Slater (McAtee 85), Gilliead (Colclough 72), Eisa, Miller. Not used: Eastwood, Van Veen, O'Malley, Dawson.

Booked: Clarke

United: Collin, Elliott, Iredale, Webster, Knight-Percival, Jones, Carroll (Sagaf 56), Bridge, McKirdy (Hope 80), Sorensen (Loft 46), Thomas. Not used: Gray, Mellish, Charters, Branthwaite.

Goal: Loft 60

Booked: Carroll, McKirdy, Iredale, Loft, Elliott

Ref: Sam Purkiss

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