CURLE’S BLAST FIRES UP BLUES!
KEITH CURLE revealed how a stern half-time team talk rescued Carlisle’s season and sent them surging into the play-offs.
The Cumbrians were trailing at halftime after goals from Reuben Reid and Jordan Moore-Taylor sandwiched a Danny Grainger penalty.
At that point Colchester had leapfrogged Carlisle into the last play-off spot and the visitors looked destined for heartbreak.
But Carlisle launched a second-half onslaught and drew level when Grainger converted his second penalty of the match in the 72nd minute.
Four minutes later Jamie Proctor headed home Tom Miller’s long throw to ensure Carlisle will meet Exeter in the play-off semi-finals.
The victory sent 735 visiting fans into raptures and left Curle praising his comeback kings.
The Cumbrians boss said: “We had the ascendancy up until half-time, but they scored against the run of play.
“I asked for a response from my players. They were playing the occasion and not the match. It was a great reaction.
“We changed the shape and formation and we started to do the right things. It was about making the right decisions, the aggression, the delivery and the understanding. It was all there.
“We are obviously really pleased to be in the play-offs and now we have to go again.
“There is more to come from Exeter, they’ve got real intensity about their play.”
Exeter took a ninth-minute lead after a sweeping counter-attack ended with David Wheeler setting up Reid, but Carlisle were level on the half-hour mark when Ethan Ampadu handled in the box.
Grainger stepped up and made no mistake, but Carlisle’s promotion hopes were in the balance on the stroke of half-time after Wheeler flicked on Ryan Harley’s corner for Moore-Taylor to head home. Carlisle launched a second-half bombardment and were rewarded after Pierce Sweeney tripped Proctor in the box.
Grainger sent Christy Pym the wrong way from the spot to set up a grandstand finale.
And the visitors’ persistence paid dividends when Tom Miller hurled a long throw into the box and Proctor sent a header past Pym at the back post.
Exeter boss Paul Tisdale is looking forward to the play-offs and has told his side to remain focused as they prepare for a firstleg clash at Brunton Park on May 14.
“I am disappointed to lose today,” he said. “We wanted to win the game and we didn’t take it lightly.
“The bigger picture is that we are in the play-offs and we are delighted to be there. We stand as good a chance as anybody and we’ve got to focus on the next two games.
“We’ve earned this opportunity through a heck of a lot of hard work and good play.
“It is a big challenge for us, but we have to embrace it and enjoy it.”
HEADS-UP! Carlisle United’s Jamie Proctor nods home the winner after Danny Grainger had scored the visitors’ – and his – second, below STAR MAN JAMIE PROCTOR Carlisle