CARLISLE manager Greg Abbott has maintained throughout a season of ups and downs that League One is a ‘first goal’ division.
So it proved yet again as a bright start – aided by a moment of controversy – left the Cumbrians in the driving seat in what was always going to be a tight game.
Abbott said: “I went to watch Stevenage play Notts County on Tuesday night and the two things I came away with were that they work hard and they are very organised. They set up to make life difficult and it’s important you take your chances against teams like that.”
Returning striker Rory Loy (pictured left) did just that when he got one over on Boro defender David Gray, the man who had broken his leg in a crunching challenge nearly 14 months ago, by guiding a cushioned header past goalkeeper Steve Arnold into the top corner.
The attention of referee Nigel Miller was drawn to an offside flag but the decision was overruled, following a prolonged period of uncertainty and discussion, bringing a belated and rather muted cheer when it was finally acknowledged the goal had been given.
Stevenage barely had time to draw breath before a slide-rule pass from McGovern sent Loy skipping into the box.
Arnold raced out to intervene but his clumsy collision with the striker left Mr Miller with his second big decision.
A red card followed and the first task for substitute goalkeeper Chris Day was to pick the ball out of the net as Lee Miller doubled the Carlisle lead from the spot.
Abbott added: “I don’t think there can be too many complaints with the card.
“I’d have been disappointed if it was our keeper but Rory was clean through.
“The only disappointing thing was we went to sleep a little bit and we made it nervier than it should have been by conceding a poor goal.”
A shuffle of the pack from Boro boss Gary Smith tightened things up in the middle of the park and chances were few and far between.
Stevenage had the woodwork to thank for keeping the score at a respectable level as McGovern and Symington rattled the bar and post respectively with Carlisle looking the likelier team to score.
Carlisle are back in action tomorrow night with a rearranged trip to face struggling Scunthorpe .
CARLISLE UNITED: Gillespie; Simek, O’Hanlon, Livesey, Robson, Welsh (Symington 74), Thirlwell (Noble 79), Berrett, McGovern, Miller, Loy (Cadamarteri 90). Subs (not used): Collin, Murphy, Beck, Potts.
Goals: Loy 9, Miller 14 pen.
STEVENAGE: Arnold; Gray, Roberts, Chorley, Comminges, Morais (Hoskins 78), Dunne, Grant, Freeman, Beleck (Day 13), Haber (Akins 68). Subs (not used): Charles, Tansey, N’Gala, Shroot.
Sent off: Arnold (12). Booked: Morais, Comminges.
Goal: Haber 22.
Attendance: 3,944. Referee: Nigel Miller (Durham).