Final Score: Carlisle United 3 Hartlepool United 0
ON SEPTEMBER 8, Matty Robson scored the winning goal for Carlisle at Hartlepool United, completing an unlikely turnaround as Pools looked set for a second successive victory.
Some 15 weeks and 22 games have passed, Pools have still not won, and Robson again heaped misery on his old club.
Those heady days of almost being able to win a game seem a long time ago.
The left winger yesterday scored one, will hope to claim another, and created a third as Carlisle won only their second game in nine attempts.
The Cumbrians were somewhat fortunate to win at Victoria Park in September, and there was a certain amount of luck about their win yesterday at Brunton Park.
Robson's opener was diverted in by Sam Collins, his first proper goal came after a cross was dropped at his feet.
Merry Christmas, season's greetings and goodwill to all opposition men.
And once Carlisle had a two-goal lead on 26 minutes, it was game over. They had the points in the bag.
This was, after showing some signs of progress in recent games under John Hughes, a step backwards for Pools.
They are utterly devoid of confidence and need desperately to get in front in a game.
But it doesn't happen, summed up after they created the first chance on only three minutes.
Jordan Richards weighted a pass into the path of Jon Franks, who was roaming into a central position. Allowing the ball to roll ahead of him, he clipped a raking shot that beat keeper Mark Gillespie and struck the top of the crossbar.
Lee Miller tried a shot that was lapped up by Scott Flinders, but the Pools keeper wasn't troubled.
He didn't look like being bothered by a Robson shot on 20 minutes either - but he was beaten.
The midfielder tried his luck from 25 yards with a shot drifting well wide of goal. He struck it firmly, and true enough for it to crash off Sam Collins, and the 45 degrees the ball diverted was enough for it to roll into the unguarded side of the net.
A decent cross from Franks curled towards Steve Howard at the far post and, after clambering above two defenders, his header was hacked off the line.
But, rather than being level at 1-1, Pools were instantly two-down - and no doubt this was Robson's goal.
It was also one of Pools' own doing. A corner was lifted high into the six-yard area. Flinders watched it drop from the sky and was right under the ball to gather.
But he lacked conviction and, after gathering the ball in a busy penalty area, the goalkeeper dropped it at the feet of Robson, who gleefully swept in.
The teams were even, there was little between them. But, as is the norm, Pools were behind. With such a rank bad record behind them, Pools were never going to come back into this one.
They have only scored 15 times in 23 games, bagging two goals on just three occasions this season. And on one of those, at Brentford, they needed two home defenders to notch both goals.
Robson was full of confidence, and the busiest player on the pitch. With Pools' two wider midfielders easing into more central positions, he was largely unchecked on his forays forward against the touchline.
Next time up, he rolled a ball across the six-yard area that Mark Beck misjudged under pressure from Peter Hartley.
That confidence the Cumbrians discovered was evident at the start of the half. Flinders saved well from Liam Noble and reacted quick enough to get the loose ball and paw it away from danger.
In the build-up to the opening, Evan Horwood grabbed Frank Simek and the pair grappled on the deck as play continued.
Referee Mark Halsey played on, then cautioned the left-back at his next opportunity for the foul. Horwood grumbled, but it was another correct decision in a game officiated superbly.
Carlisle should have scored a third on the hour mark. Simek was allowed to cross too easily and striker Beck got in front of his men to head at goal, forcing a good low stop from Flinders.
At the other end, a Horwood free-kick found its way to Andy Monkhouse and his shot from ten yards was charged down and a block took the sting out of his shot.
Horwood then crossed into the area and Charlie Wyke attacked it at the near post, but headed over.
Pools, in their maroon kit, were having a bit of a purple patch. Antony Sweeney almost got on the end of something in the area, but again it was more in hope than expectation.
But hope is not a trait associated with Pools, and so it proved again.
Robson got into a gallop into his favoured position running at a defender.
After showing Richards the ball twice, the right-back passed up the chance to get a foot in and Robson's cross was inch perfect for Lee Miller to head in unchecked at the far post.
Even when Pools had a few scrambles or half openings, the busy home defenders worked away to make sure they were denied. The Pools team could do worse than take note of such spirit.
Make no mistake, Pools are getting relegated, as good as down before the Christmas decorations are packed away.
1-0: Collins og (20, wayward Robson shot struck defender and diverted into the net)
2-0: Robson (26, Flinders dropped a high ball and the left winger rolled in from close range)
3-0: Miller (73, header at the far post after Robson ran down the left and crossed deep)
Booking: Horwood (51, foul)
Referee: Mark Halsey (Bolton): Always on top of the game, an effortless performance 8
CARLISLE UNITED (4-5-1): Gillespie 6; Simek 6, Livesey 6, Edwards 7, Chantler 7 (McGinty 90); McGovern 5, Potts 7, Noble 7, Thirlwell 5 (Beck 22, 6), ROBSON 8; Miller 7 (Todd 85). Subs (not used): Collin (gk), Welsh, Roy, Beck, Todd, Symington.
HARTLEPOOL UNITED (4-4-2):
4 Flinders: Made some saves to keep the score down, but dropping the ball for the second goal killed the game off;
4 Richards: Started positively, but Robson got the better of him too many times as the game went on and didn't get close enough at times
6 COLLINS: The senior figure in the back four and he had to be at times with others struggling and playing below themselves
4 Hartley: Quiet and disappointing return to the team after a two-game absence. Never took responsibility and played on the seat of his pants
5 Horwood: Average return to his former club for the left-back. Not overly troubled by JP McGovern on the flank;
5 Franks: Always seems happier playing in a more central position than as a touchline hugger. Clipped the bar early on with a good shot, but not as influential after the break.
5 Humphreys: Overworked in central midfield. Kept popping the ball out of the middle early on and tried to get Pools passing the ball again
5 Sweeney: Got in the area in advanced positions on a few occasions, and it's typical of his luck that nothing fell for him in front of goal
5 Monkhouse: The discipline and focus he displayed in the last game at MK Dons was missing this time out;
5 Howard: Had a first-half header cleared off the line, and at times the service into him was marginally better. Carlisle's centre-halves knew they had been in a game.
5 Wyke: Showed signs of promise again, but dropping deeper takes away his goal threat and leaves Howard a bit isolated up front alone.
Poole (for Monkhouse 73)
James (for Howard 83)
(not used): Walton, Luscombe, Murray, Holden, McHugh (gk).
MAN OF THE MATCH
MATTY Robson - a goal, a deflected goal and an assist, and yet the home club gave star man billing to Lee Miller.