It was a different feeling driving back up the country after a defeat on Saturday night. Disappointed but not disillusioned would be the best way of describing it.

At Newport, Carlisle seemed to have carried on from what I felt was a stronger defensive performance towards the end of the Oldham game.

The team set out their stall early on against a team who have been going well, and for 95 minutes were the better side.

I felt the pitch played a big part. Steven Pressley said beforehand that Newport play in a certain way and you have to be ready for that, but the new pitch down there hindered them more than anything.

Their back four weren’t as comfortable on the ball as they used to be. It was almost as if, because the pitch is now better, they feel they have to play out from the back a bit more.

The way Carlisle were set up, they managed to get between players, steal the ball from them and play on the counter-attack.

At the other end, Pressley’s defenders didn’t mess around too much with it. They got it forward and rarely did you see Adam Collin play the ball short to Gethin Jones, Byron Webster or Nathaniel Knight-Percival.

It was one of those away games where you have to grow into the game, silence the crowd and get stronger. Carlisle did that – only to lose to a wonder strike with the last kick.

To come away without even a point is a real blow and Carlisle have to deal with it now. Players can look at it in different ways. Some might think, ‘What do we have to do to win?’

What they have to do, though, is reflect on the display in general and say: that is the standard now. That is the level we have to reach in every game.

If you do that, you will certainly be competitive and give yourselves a better chance.

You will enjoy games more, too; I certainly enjoyed watching Carlisle a lot more on Saturday and, until that 96th-minute goal, the players seemed to enjoy being part of it too.

Two months into the season, there have been some good and bad points, but I do think it was a lot better at Newport in general. What they really have to do now, though, is put all the pieces together and go on a run.

For all the good work Carlisle did at Rodney Parade, they still came away having been beaten. In two weeks’ time nobody will be looking back and raving about how well United played.

They will look at the result, the L next to their name, and what it means for the table.

Moving on from here, they have to try and keep that defensive unit strong but also get the attacking side going again. That’s what the team, management and staff all have to work on.

Getting that balance is all-important. In the last few games they have conceded fewer goals, but at the other end have not been scoring as freely.

United were very open at the start of the season, which Pressley said would be the case. He said they would be an aggressive attacking side, but it’s quite clear now that when the other team are attacking, everybody goes behind the ball.

Olufela Olomola goes very deep and when Carlisle win it, the striker is still in that deep position. When he gets it, it leaves him with a hell of a lot to do to get back into the 18-yard box.

Nathan Thomas was missing at the weekend and Harry McKirdy wasn’t in the starting XI. They are players who can take the ball and travel with it at pace, and that might be something Pressley looks to reintroduce in a home game.

You have to find a balance and make sure your priorities are right. We all wanted to see Carlisle leaking fewer goals and to a certain degree they have done that.

It is natural that, when this means more people behind the ball, it is harder to attack with the same level of threat.

It is a double-edged sword. Do United open up again when Crewe come to town on Saturday in search of more goals? Do they risk the visiting team, who are in good form this season, smashing them on the break?

It is a tough one for the manager to work out and along the way it might be another test for supporters.

They want to be entertained; we have heard that often enough. It is not just about points.

Crewe, we know, will come to Brunton Park and pop it around. Hopefully that will suit Carlisle, enable them to sit in and then feed their attacking players to make things happen.

The Railwaymen like to attack. They often have a group of young lads who love to fly forward. I wouldn’t be surprised if Carlisle get men behind the ball again, look to frustrate and almost treat it as an away game.

It might not be what everyone wants to watch, but the longer you stay in games like that, the more people will appreciate what you are trying to do.

Getting an early goal, as Carlisle did against Oldham, meant people could accept some of what followed. It is when you don’t take anything when playing that way that you invite criticism.

Sitting through 90 minutes of defensive work with nothing to show for it is a hard sell. Finding the balance isn’t always easy but hopefully Carlisle can build on Saturday’s good things and find a better outcome this time.


Carlisle face Crewe this weekend for the first time since that controversial game at the Alexandra Stadium in February.

Jamie Devitt was sent off after an incident involving Crewe’s Perry Ng, and their manager David Artell had some differences of opinion with the United contingent.

I’m not convinced that all that will have a huge bearing on this Saturday’s meeting.

It will depend on how the game goes. If Artell is particularly animated on the touchline, I’m sure the Paddock will get involved.

That is the case, though, with any visiting manager who is being lively in his technical area.

Otherwise, there has been such a huge turnover of players that I can’t see there being much bad blood between the sides.

There is only a small handful of players still in the Carlisle side from that 2-1 defeat eight months ago.

Hopefully it is a feisty occasion for other reasons that can benefit United.

Hopefully something happens that will lift the place; a strong early challenge, for instance.

Early in games, I always liked to put a big tackle in. It usually got a response from the Carlisle supporters.

Crewe will no doubt bring a fair few fans, as they are right up there in the table after the first 12 games.

Ideally Carlisle’s faithful will be able to match them and generate a good atmosphere.

That will be helped, of course, if United can more than match them on the pitch and give those supporters something to hold onto.

Crewe are unbeaten in four games but there should always be a win around the corner for any team in League Two.

It is such an inconsistent division that few teams should go on big, long unbeaten or losing runs.

You should be able to win a couple in a row. You shouldn’t be intimidated by a side like Crewe even though they have started well.

The division is not so devastating that games like Saturday’s should be a foregone conclusion.