Jon Mellish scored a hat-trick as rock-bottom Carlisle stunned promotion-chasing Peterborough with a shock 3-1 success in Sky Bet League One.

Midfielder Mellish, who had only previously scored twice all season, did the damage as Paul Simpson’s basement boys bagged just a sixth win of a torrid campaign.

Mellish rose unchallenged to meet substitute Jordan Gibson’s cross after Posh switched off from a Dylan McGeouch short corner as Carlisle took a 27th minute lead.

The same man doubled their advantage three minutes into the second half when he struck an impressive volley past Posh goalkeeper Jed Steer, following a weak defensive header from England Under-20 defender Ronnie Edwards.

Mellish was not done there, completing a memorable treble in the 58th minute with another spectacular left-footed volley after the hosts failed to deal with a McGeouch cross.

Posh quickly hit back as captain Harrison Burrows slammed a 61st-minute shot through a crowd of players from the edge of the box but that was as good as it got as Darren Ferguson’s men flopped.

Substitute Jonson Clarke-Harris fluffed a glorious chance to cut the arrears further, before also being denied by the bar late on as the courageous Cumbrians stood firm.

Barnsley had to come from behind to win 2-1 against Sky Bet League One strugglers Carlisle.

January signing Luke Armstrong opened the scoring before Devante Cole levelled and Herbie Kane converted from the spot.

The visitors broke the deadlock in the seventh minute. A loose pass from Liam Roberts was intercepted by Armstrong who finished from 30 yards out.

Daniel Butterworth came close in the 12th minute when he met Jack Ellis’ cross, but his header struck the goal frame.

Neill Collins’ side levelled in the 58th minute. Skipper Jordan Williams broke forward and found Cole in the left of the box for him to fire into the bottom right corner.

They almost added a second six minutes later when Kane drove to the edge of the box and flashed an effort just over.

The hosts struck the winner after they were awarded a spot-kick in the 86th minute when Adam Phillips was brought down inside the box.

Kane stepped up and powered it down the middle.

Ten-man Bristol Rovers earned a hard-fought 1-0 win at Carlisle to extend their unbeaten run in all competitions to five matches.

Sam Lavelle’s own goal before half-time proved to be the difference as managerless Rovers rose to 10th place in the League One table and Carlisle dropped to 22nd.

The Cumbrians looked threatening in the first half, with Jack Armer almost getting a toe on the end of Luke Plange’s low cross and Jordan Gibson dragging a shot wide.

But it was the Pirates who took the lead in the 38th minute, when the returning Jack Hunt’s cross took a wicked deflection off opposition defender Lavelle and looped into the net.

Carlisle pushed for an equaliser after the break, with Dylan McGeouch’s effort saved by Matthew Cox and substitute Sean Maguire’s flick-on from Owen Moxon’s low corner going over the crossbar.

Cox had to be alert again in the 65th minute, making a superb save down to his right to turn Plange’s header around the post.

Rovers were reduced to 10 men 17 minutes from time as Tristan Crama pulled back Terry Ablade to deny a clear goalscoring opportunity.

Further good saves from Cox denied the subsequent free-kick from Moxon and a shot from Plange, and the visitors held on for victory.

Paul Simpson was left “raging” after his Carlisle side’s 1-0 defeat to Port Vale.

James Wilson’s penalty was all that separated the two sides, leaving Simpson’s side are still looking for their first league victory since promotion.

The manager was angered by the mix-up between Jokull Andresson and Jon Mellish which eventually led to his keeper conceding the match-winning penalty for a foul on Ethan Chislett.

“I’m absolutely raging to be honest,” said Simpson.

“We’ve gifted three points to Port Vale. Jokull just shouldn’t have been in that position.

“It’s been a frustrating day all round. We managed to get ourselves into some good positions in and around their box, but we’ve then not tested their keeper enough.

“Perhaps we’ve not been brave enough in certain situations. It’s something we’ll have to work on of course, but it’s difficult sometimes.

“I knew it wouldn’t be easy getting used to the higher level, and that’s how it’s proving.

“I can’t fault any of the players in terms of effort and endeavour, we’ve come to a tough place today and given it a real go. We’ve gone toe-to-toe with a really strong Port Vale team – it’s just not been our day unfortunately.”

Both sides created chances in an entertaining first half at Vale Park.

Wilson went closest for the hosts while Callum Guy threatened more than once for Carlisle.

Vale struck shortly after the restart when Andresson tugged back Chislett in the box, leaving Wilson to coolly slot home.

Carlisle pressed for a leveller late on, but Vale hung on and stretched their unbeaten run to four games to the delight of manager Andy Crosby.

“It was a really hard-earned victory for us,” said Crosby.

“We tried our hardest to control the game and that did prove difficult at times.

“What is disappointing is that we didn’t necessarily capitalise on the periods when we were dominant.

“When you allow a game like that to head into the latter stages and you’re still only 1-0 up, then you know you’re only an individual error away from potentially throwing away two points.

“We should really have finished the game off sooner but we ran around a lot, showed a real togetherness, and in the end that has got us the result.

“We need to find more of that ruthless nature that you need to be really successful at this level.

“You have to take the game away from teams earlier than we have done today, but it’s still a big three points and it keeps the positive momentum going.”

Exeter manager Gary Caldwell has high hopes for Ryan Trevitt after his goal set up a 2-0 win over Carlisle.

Trevitt and Demetri Mitchell sealed the points to make a long trip north worth the effort, following a midweek defeat at Portsmouth.

“It was a fantastic result after a really difficult week,” said Caldwell. “We had to recover well after Tuesday night and after everyone’s really hard efforts we thankfully got the result here today.

“After the first 15 minutes of the second half we looked the stronger team. The substitutes gave us a real attacking threat. It was a big team effort and I have to thank everyone at the club who contributed today.”

Trevitt opened the scoring on 70 minutes with his first professional goal and Caldwell was full of praise for the Brentford loanee.

“Ryan’s been brilliant since he joined the club and I can see him scoring a lot more goals between now and the end of the season,” he said.

“He’s got a brilliant knack of finding the corner. It was a brilliant finish.”

Exeter kept their third clean sheet of the season against Carlisle.

“We’ve been very good defensively,” Caldwell said.

“It was a big question mark in pre-season and in fairness the whole team have worked hard on defending set-pieces and working hard off the ball. That allows you to make moments to go and win the game and when we got our two moments, we took them.”

Paul Simpson believes his Carlisle side are not too far away from where he would like despite the result.

“I thought there was a lot of good things today. We had good controlled possession and worked their keeper well,” he said.

“My over-riding thought is that we’re not too far away now. But that’s also a frustration.”

Carlisle were on top in spells of the game and Simpson rues the chances his side missed.

“When we’re on a good spell that first goal is all important,” he said. “There were opportunities to get crosses in and we hit the first man and that’s where the real frustration lies.

“We do know the importance of scoring the first goal when we’ve had the chances. We’ve had the corners. We overloaded the near post with good deliveries but fine margins and we didn’t get on the end of those good balls.”

Goalscorer Mitchell was on a yellow card when he fouled Fin Back in the first half but Simpson was coy about the decision not to send the Exeter man off.

“If he hadn’t been on a yellow, it might have been given but I don’t like seeing players sent off,” he said.

“It’s not why we lost today so I would be clutching at straws if I were to claim that cost us the game today.”

Ryan Trevitt and Demitri Mitchell netted as Exeter beat Carlisle 2-0 at Brunton Park.

Exeter found the breakthrough when Trevitt struck 20 minutes from time for his first professional goal.

Mitchell stroked home with eight minutes left to make the points safe, but Carlisle may have felt aggrieved he was not sent off in the first half after a possible second bookable offence.

United started well and Sean Maguire pulled a first-minute shot narrowly wide of the Exeter goal, before Fin Back’s volley whistled close as the home side dominated the early moments.

Maguire again created an opening for Carlisle, heading a decent chance into Viljami Sinisalo’s grateful grasp. The City keeper was called into action again when Maguire fired low on 53 minutes.

Despite the Carlisle pressure, Trevitt fired home from the edge of the box to give the Grecians the lead on 70 minutes.

On 82 minutes, Mitchell got on the end of a Jack Aitchison cross and picked out the bottom corner to seal the game for Exeter.

Carlisle boss Paul Simpson was proud of his side’s second-half performance as they held Wigan to a 1-1 draw at Brunton Park.

The Cumbrians fell behind to former striker Charlie Wyke’s first-half finish for Latics, but Simpson was delighted with the response from his team.

Carlisle equalised through Owen Moxon’s close-range finish.

“I thought we were positive and energetic tonight, but in the first half we struggled against a really good Wigan side,” admitted Simpson.

“Second half we certainly stood up to that challenge. That’s what we need to do every single game.

“We stuck at it. We were more aggressive in the press and more aggressive with our passing in the second half.

“I think in the end we thoroughly deserved the point tonight and it’s important that we can build on that on the weekend.

“Jordan Gibson was creative. The goal comes from him working and chasing. He’s got real ability and if he can put the work in that he has for the first part of this season, for the rest of it, he’s going to be a real handful for other teams.”

Wigan left Cumbria with a point and missed out on the chance to move off the bottom of the League One table.

Boss Shaun Maloney believed if his side kept their first-half level then they would have gone home with all three points.

He reflected: “I think anyone who was here saw the first half was as good a performance that I’ve had since I’ve been here.

“My only criticism is that when you’re that good you’ve got to put teams away.

“In the second half the last 40 minutes or so was a proper game and that’s what happens if you don’t put teams away.

“We made a mistake on the ball and they punished us and that’s football.

“It’s as good as we’ve played and I’m pleased with a lot of today. That first half is as good as it’s been since I’ve been here.

“Charlie Wyke is playing at a very good level at the moment. I’m asking a lot of him with a lot of minutes. He ran himself into the ground for us and the quality he showed is very good.

“My priority is trying to win the game, not give players minutes and I thought the substitutions we made gave us the best chance.”

Owen Moxon’s close-range effort earned winless Carlisle a 1-1 draw with Wigan at Brunton Park.

Moxon lashed home from six yards early in the second period, cancelling out Charlie Wyke’s finish.

Callum Lang, Callum McManaman and Thelo Aasgaard all went close as Wigan dominated in the early stages.

On the half-hour mark, former Carlisle striker Wyke volleyed against the crossbar, but just four minutes later Wigan went ahead.

A marauding run by Baba Adeeko saw him slide the ball through to Wyke, who delightfully dinked his side into the lead.

Charlie Hughes saw his towering header rattle the outside of the post as the visitors sought to double their advantage soon after.

After the break, Moxon capitalised on Latics keeper Sam Tickle’s mistake and smashed home United’s equaliser.

Buoyed by the goal, United almost went ahead when Ryan Edmondson headed wide after 75 minutes.

Lang nearly won the game for Wigan but failed to connect to a late ball into the box.

Mark Harris’ first goal for his new club gave Oxford a 1-0 Sky Bet League One win over new boys Carlisle at the Kassam Stadium.

Carlisle had started brightly, with Callum Guy firing a right-footed shot just wide in the sixth minute.

Oxford were giving the ball away a lot in the early exchanges and struggled to create clear openings against the compact visitors.

The U’s eventually tested Carlisle keeper Tomas Holy in stoppage-time at the end of the first-half with a 20-yard effort from midfielder Cameron Brannagan.

Oxford improved after the break, with Harris racing through on the left, but delayed his shot too long and the chance went.

Ruben Rodrigues’ influence continued to grow and Oxford’s pressure told with 14 minutes left when substitute Tyler Goodrham fed Harris on the left – and the summer signing from Cardiff slotted past keeper Holy from 16 yards.

Goodrham also fired wide from a late chance and Holy saved from Brannagan.

Paul Simpson said his Carlisle players let themselves down during Tuesday night’s Carabao Cup first-round defeat at Harrogate.

Sam Folarin scored the only goal of the game from long range in the 23rd minute to leave the Sky Bet League One Cumbrians winless in eighth attempts against Simon Weaver’s Sulphurites.

And Simpson, who made no fewer than four substitutions at half-time, was far from impressed by what he witnessed in North Yorkshire.

“I’m really disappointed in what we have done tonight,” he said.

“I wanted to win this game, I wanted to be in the second round of the cup.

“In the first half, we lacked energy, which is why I decided to make changes at half-time, just to see if I could inject a bit of life into it.

“I thought that second half, the two centre-backs showed some enthusiasm to want to play, but unfortunately there were too many who were off it in the final third and that is where we have really let ourselves down.”

After Jack Armer, Luke Plange and Jon Mellish all squandered first-half chances to find the net for Carlisle, while Ryan Edmondson wasted an even better opportunity after 76 minutes when he failed to convert from the penalty spot.

Speaking about the miss, Simpson added: “I don’t like to criticise anyone for missing a penalty, but I thought that penalty summed up our lack of quality in the final third on the night.

“It was really, really poor from players who have better ability than they showed.”

By contrast, Harrogate boss Weaver was more than satisfied by his own team’s attacking play and is now hoping to draw one of the big boys in round two.

“We achieved everything that we wanted to get out of tonight, so I’m really pleased,” he reflected.

“The first half, we were on the front foot and there was some free-flowing football at times. It was fast-paced and we had that goal-threat as well, which is great to see.

“This is an exciting competition to be involved in and so I’m delighted to be in round two.

“Our first year in the Football League we drew Premier League West Brom and it was shown live on Sky Sports, so that was in the back of my mind before tonight’s game.

“It was such a special occasion and I’m hoping we can pull a big club out of the hat again.”

Carlisle’s hoodoo against Harrogate continued on Tuesday evening as Paul Simpson’s team were knocked out of the Carabao Cup at the first-round stage.

The newly-promoted Sky Bet League One outfit had failed to beat the League Two Sulphurites in seven previous attempts and saw that run extended by a 1-0 defeat in North Yorkshire.

Jack Armer should have given the visitors an 18th-minute lead, but he cleared the crossbar from just a couple of yards out.

And Carlisle were punished for that miss soon afterwards, former Middlesbrough forward Sam Folarin stroking a precise 25-yard finish into the bottom corner.

Harrogate remained in the ascendancy until half-time, though both Luke Plange and Jon Mellish could have levelled matters, but neither man could beat Mark Oxley in one-on-one situations.

Simpson made four changes at the break, though it was the hosts who threatened first after the resumption when George Thomson curled a free-kick just over the bar.

Town began to drop deeper and deeper as the half progressed and, although they appeared relatively untroubled, Oxley’s foul on Taylor Charters saw Carlisle awarded a 76th-minute penalty.

Harrogate-born Ryan Edmondson would, however, fluff his lines from the spot and the Sulphurites were able to see the game out.

Overjoyed Carlisle boss Paul Simpson was happy for his players to head out and enjoy a beer following their dramatic 5-4 penalty shootout win over Stockport in the Sky Bet League Two play-off final.

After the Wembley showdown ended 1-1 after 120 minutes, the Cumbrians held their nerve to score five faultless spot-kicks to seal promotion and return to League One after nine years away.

“I’m delighted for all the players,” said Simpson. “They’ve shown the desire to really dig in during that second half, because we had to earn the right to take it all the way.

“We had to hang in there a little bit, but I’m so pleased we’ve stuck at it and taken the game all the way.

“We’ve done that all season, and to be honest that began on June 22 last year when we started pre-season.

“Someone has said we were eighth favourites to go down but, after this, I’m just so unbelievably proud of the group, the whole football club, and of course the supporters.

“I’ve lost all my previous games at Wembley so I felt that run couldn’t continue too much longer, but this day is going to be right up there.

“We’ve probably overachieved in securing promotion, and I have to say I didn’t really expect this at the end of this season, but again credit to the players for their efforts.

“We’ve always had the belief but wow, we’re in for a really good night now.

“The players and the supporters have earned a beer.”

It proved to be a tightly contested, energy-sapping first half amid summery conditions at Wembley.

Stockport held the advantage at the break thanks to a touch of fortune when Isaac Olaofe’s cross flicked off Jon Mellish’s boot before looping into the far corner.

However, Carlisle substitute Omari Patrick’s drilled finish in the 84th minute sent the tie into extra-time.

After Ryan Rydel’s sole penalty miss in the shootout proved decisive, last season’s Vanarama National League champions Stockport missed out on back-to-back promotions.

Boss Dave Challinor has urged his talented squad to learn from the heartbreaking defeat.

“I wasn’t too surprised that the game was so tight, but obviously it’s a really disappointing way to lose,” he said.

“We’ve gone through all the emotions over the last week – winning on penalties against Salford and then this – but we have to learn from days like today.

“We have to learn from it and take all the positives we can.

“It’s not a nice feeling, but we have to use this feeling to motivate us for what will be a different prospect in League Two next season.”

Challinor felt huge sympathy for youngster Rydel, who has otherwise enjoyed a terrific season at Edgeley Park.

“He’ll just have to learn from the experience,” added the County boss.

“We’re all gutted for him, but anyone can miss a penalty in that situation.

“Better players than Ryan have missed pressure penalties like that, and you have to say that all the other nine were pretty much perfect so that’s just how it goes sometimes.

“Ryan has got to use this as a driving factor for his future career.

“It’s an important experience he has to go through, but he’s a great lad and he’ll get over it.”

Carlisle boss Paul Simpson insists he never thought his side would be in the fight for promotion as they prepare for their Sky Bet League Two play-off final with Stockport on Sunday.

The Blues qualified for the play-offs after finishing the regular campaign in fifth position and came from behind in the tie against Bradford to book their place at Wembley, with a 3-2 aggregate win.

Simpson took over at Brunton Park in February 2022 with the club battling against relegation to the National League and has gone on to lead them to within one game of promotion.

The 56-year-old is aiming for his third promotion with the Cumbrian club, having been player-manager from 2003 to 2006, but admitted a lot of work needed to be done when he walked through the door.

Simpson told the PA news agency: “No, I did not think we would have been in this position.

“There were lots of things that needed to be changed. I didn’t think it was an absolute disaster but certain issues needed to be resolved.

“It was a big challenge to try bring all the different factions of the football club back together – there was a big difference between the office staff and players, there was not a good feeling with that, dislike towards the directors, no local businesses involved. I wanted to bring everyone back together.

“Everyone has pulled together over the last five home games where we are getting big crowds and that has been really satisfying.”

The Blues come up against Stockport, who are aiming to make it back-to-back promotions after they were crowned champions of the National League last season, and will aim to do what Simpson did with Carlisle in his previous spell in charge, taking them from non-league to the third tier in consecutive years.

The United boss knows his side were under-estimated heading into the post-season, but has acknowledged the size of the task in hand if they are to stop Stockport – a side that finished the season unbeaten in 13 before coming from behind to beat Salford in their respective play-off semi-final.

Simpson continued: “Some of our local media were saying that we are the team that everyone wanted to play.

“I find it disappointing and disrespectful to the players that have been outstanding all season.

“We haven’t achieved anything apart from getting to Wembley and now we have to try and get a promotion. When you get to a play-off final there is nothing for coming second.

“I’m sure the stadium and surroundings will get to the players – I know from experience what Wembley does to players and staff so it’s our job to help each other.”

Callum Guy helped put Carlisle in front with a terrific strike in extra-time last weekend against one of his former teams, scoring just his fourth goal in Blues colours.

The 26-year-old is aiming to win his first promotion as a player.

He said: “The weekend can’t come quick enough.

“I’ve not scored a league goal before this year but I’ve managed to score four this year. I think I’ve just taken a few more risks this year, obviously it helps when my team is doing really well.

“We’ve showed over the two legs against Bradford, with the crowds that have been there, we can handle the big occasion and we can score goals in them.”

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