Neil Critchley stressed his Blackpool side need to be perfect to sneak into the play-off spots after a 1-0 victory at relegated Carlisle.

Karamoko Dembele scored the only goal of the game after just 22 seconds to keep Blackpool in the hunt for an unlikely play-off spot.

The Seasiders are three points off the top-six pace, having played a game more than incumbents Oxford.

And boss Critchley said: “I thought we were good first half. We got off to a great start, it was a fantastic goal. It was a brilliant break and well taken.

“We were saying we had to score again and we had the opportunities to score again.

“We had a few moments in the second half. It was the same pattern as the last few games and the longer it’s 1-0 you are susceptible to conceding.

“It was a tough game due to the conditions. At this stage we’ll take a 1-0 win.

“We thought we could hurt them in transition moments and we did that. Shayne (Lavery) had a lovely touch and Kade’s broke forward into space. It was a great start and settled us down.

“Sometimes scoring so early can give you a false sense of security in the game.

“We were in control, but our decision making and quality let us down. We have to improve that side of our game.”

Carlisle are already relegated, but fought hard to try and salvage a point.

And boss Paul Simpson said: “It was a horrific start to the game, conceding after 22 seconds, a goal like that.

“It was a tough, tough first half. The conditions were really tricky.

“Credit to the players, they stuck at it and hung in there in the first half when we were struggling against the wind.

“We just tried to contain it with the way they were playing. We had a real good go second half.

“There was some fantastic defending on the line from their lad to deny Luke Armstrong on the line.

“Apart from that we haven’t created a lot. It’s a frustrating game. Another game where we have conceded and lost by a single goal.

“I’m really disappointed. We had a lot that went against us with injuries and knocks in the game.

“There’s lot of disappointment, but we have to give credit to the players at how they stuck at it despite the quality not being there.”

Blackpool kept up the pace in the League One play-off race with a slender 1-0 victory over relegated Carlisle.

Karamoko Dembele scored one of the quickest goals this season as he bagged the only goal of the game inside the first minute at Brunton Park.

It was a third win in a row for Neil Critchley’s chasers, who are three points off the pace having played a game more than incumbents Oxford.

The midfielder needed just 22 seconds to fire the visitors in front as he took Shayne Lavery’s ball into his stride before curling home.

Harry Lewis produced a good save to keep out Lavery and stop Blackpool going two ahead inside 10 minutes.

Luke Armstrong saw his header cleared off the line on the hour mark for the hosts.

Down the other end, Lewis produced a good stop to deny Sonny Carey.

Paul Simpson’s side slipped to a third defeat in four as they look towards life back in League Two.

Darrell Clarke admitted his Cheltenham side are “falling at the last hurdle” in their survival bid after they went down 1-0 at home to already-relegated Carlisle.

Sam Lavelle’s first-half goal was enough to seal the points for the Cumbrians, whose fate was sealed by a 2-0 defeat at Northampton last Saturday.

Cheltenham knew a win would lift them out of the bottom four for the first time since mid-August, but they came up short and Clarke admitted he is scratching his head over the performance.

“I am very disappointed with our performance and with the whole night,” Clarke said.

“Yet again, after a poor first half, I am searching for answers and I am not coming up with the right solutions at the minute.

“The group is lacking a bit of confidence, but it’s no excuse and I’ll take responsibility as manager.

“We are falling at the last hurdle as things stand, and that’s not acceptable after working so hard to give ourselves a platform to stay in this division.

“I have to get better, the group has to get better as well and we have to give our supporters a lift come 3pm on Saturday (at home to Bristol Rovers).”

Carlisle were the better side during a cagey first half.

Joe Nuttall missed a good opportunity to give Cheltenham the lead in the sixth minute, side-footing wide after Liam Sercombe’s pass.

Georgie Kelly saw a shot saved by Luke Southwood at the other end and Luke Armstrong fired wide of the near post.

Jack Armer blasted over the bar for the Cumbrians, but the deadlock was broken three minutes before half-time.

Jack Robinson’s corner was headed back across goal by Ben Barclay and Lavelle touched it in from close range.

Cheltenham sent on four substitutes at half-time and changed formation, resulting in some early pressure on the visitors’ goal.

But goalkeeper Harry Lewis was rarely troubled and Southwood had to fly at full stretch to keep out a looping effort from Jon Mellish in the 77th minute.

Carlisle boss Paul Simpson was pleased with his side’s attitude.

“It was one of those games where we had to roll our sleeves up, put our tin hats on and defend for our lives and that’s what we did,” he said.

“I was really pleased with so many things in what has been a tough time for us.

“It was a good goal and then we had to hang on because Cheltenham are fighting for their lives.

“It’s a good result and makes the journey home more enjoyable. I’m still adamant I want the players to do something now at home for our fans as they’ve been starved of a good 90 minutes. We now have two home games to do that.

“It’s been really painful what we’ve been through this year, but the truth is we just haven’t been good enough.

“I think the players who are still here next year will be better for the experience.”

Sam Lavelle’s first-half goal earned already-relegated Carlisle a 1-0 victory at Cheltenham, denting the home side’s survival bid.

Cheltenham knew a win would lift them out of the bottom four in League One for the first time since mid-August, but Carlisle were the better side during a cagey first half.

Joe Nuttall missed a good opportunity to give Cheltenham the lead in the sixth minute, side-footing wide after Liam Sercombe’s pass.

Georgie Kelly saw a shot saved by Luke Southwood at the other end and Luke Armstrong fired wide of the near post.

Jack Armer blasted one over the bar for the Cumbrians, but the deadlock was broken three minutes before half-time.

Jack Robinson’s corner was headed back across goal by Ben Barclay and Lavelle touched it in from close range.

Cheltenham sent on four substitutes at half-time and changed formation, resulting in some early pressure on the visitors’ goal.

But goalkeeper Harry Lewis was rarely troubled and Southwood had to fly at full stretch to keep out a looping effort from Jon Mellish in the 77th minute.

Leopardstown’s Classic trials card will go ahead as planned after the track passed a 7.30am inspection.

The P.W. McGrath Memorial Ballysax Stakes is one of the highlights having produced several top-class performers over the years, including three subsequent Epsom winners in Galileo (2001), High Chaparral (2002) and Harzand (2016).

Two other Group Three events in the Ballylinch Stud “Red Rocks” Stakes and the Ballylinch Stud “Priory Belle” Stakes also take place on ground described as heavy.

Clerk of the course Lorcan Wyer said: “The track at Leopardstown is fit for racing and the fixture scheduled for today goes ahead.

“The ground remains heavy but we had no measurable rain at the track in the last 24 hours and some strong winds. Today looks to be mainly sunny and breezy.”

The track at Carlisle also passed a 7am inspection allowing the final day of the Go North Series Finals to go take place, although conditions are heavy.

Tuesday’s meeting at Hexham has been called off though, with areas of false ground and standing water on the course.

Manager Paul Simpson admits Carlisle have “fallen well short” after his side’s relegation from League One was officially confirmed by Saturday’s 2-0 defeat at Northampton.

A long way adrift at the bottom, Carlisle’s immediate return to League Two has looked inevitable for some time and their fate was duly sealed by goals from Kieron Bowie and Ali Koiki at a blustery Sixfields.

“It’s obviously a huge disappointment but the relegation isn’t on today, it’s on the whole season,” said Simpson.

“We had all of the excitement of the promotion last season but unfortunately we haven’t been able to follow it up and we have fallen well short.

“What we have to do now is regroup, have a look into what’s gone wrong and make sure we come back stronger and better next season and that’s the challenge going into the summer.”

Reflecting on the game itself, Simpson added: “It’s such a poor first goal to concede. We spoke about it and we worked on it about getting in early because they’ve got good delivery from set-pieces but we switch off and we allow them the first contact and they bundle it in.

“It wasn’t a great game and the conditions didn’t make it easy with the wind but it’s the story of our season because we started the game well and we got into good areas but we didn’t score when we were on top and then we conceded a poor goal.

“Now we need to make sure we get a strong group together so we can bounce back straightaway next season.”

Northampton are now up to 59 points, their second-highest points haul in the third tier this century.

“It’s a really good achievement and it’s testament to the players and their attitude,” said Cobblers boss Jon Brady.

“The wind and the conditions made it quite a turgid game today and it was hard for both teams.

“We actually wanted to win the toss and turn it around so we’d have the wind behind us but obviously we lost it and we had to go against the wind.

“The first half was really difficult and we couldn’t get out but we were gritty and determined and it was great to get the result.

“You feel for Carlisle, before the game you have to be focused and there’s no room for any sympathy but I had a chat with Paul Simpson afterwards and they are a good club with good people.

“We have similar budgets so it shows how well we’ve done and it’s taken a lot of hard work from everyone.”

Carlisle’s relegation from League One was confirmed after they were beaten 2-0 by Northampton.

The Cumbrians won promotion last season but their immediate return to League Two was sealed thanks to goals from Kieron Bowie and Ali Koiki.

Carlisle had a strong wind behind them in the first half at Sixfields and they used that to dominate territorially but the conditions did not help either side find their flow in a scrappy contest.

A rare chance saw Lee Burge tip over Georgie Kelly’s header before Northampton scored with their first real chance of the first half.

It came on 33 minutes when Sam Sherring’s header from a Mitch Pinnock corner was blocked and fell to Bowie who stabbed into the net.

Carlisle tried to force the issue in their pursuit of an equaliser after the break but they struggled against the wind and barely created a chance of note.

And their fate was sealed in stoppage time when Koiki ran the length of the pitch from a defensive corner and rolled the ball home after rounding goalkeeper Harry Lewis.

Leopardstown’s high-profile meeting on Sunday, due to feature a recognised Derby trial in the P.W. McGrath Memorial Ballysax Stakes, will have to pass a 7.30am inspection if it is to go ahead.

The Group Three contest has thrown up several top-class performers over the years, including three subsequent Epsom winners in Galileo (2001), High Chaparral (2002) and Harzand (2016).

Leopardstown is also due to stage two other Group Three events in the Ballylinch Stud “Red Rocks” Stakes and the Ballylinch Stud “Priory Belle” Stakes, but the prospect of further rain falling on already heavy ground has prompted IHRB clerk of the course Lorcan Wyer to call a morning check.

He said: “Following three millimetres of rain since declarations, the track at Leopardstown is heavy and fit for racing at present.

“According to Met Eireann, there is the potential for a further three to five millimetres of rain throughout today into tomorrow, as well as the high winds associated with Storm Kathleen today.

“Due to the current adverse weather conditions, we will have a 7.30am inspection on Sunday morning to assess the situation.”

Downpatrick’s meeting on Sunday has already been cancelled, while officials at Carlisle have announced a precautionary inspection for 7am ahead of the scheduled final day of the Go North Series Finals.

Saturday’s meeting at Uttoxeter was given the go-ahead following a morning check, but racing at the Curragh was called off due to waterlogging.

Tuesday’s Flat meeting at Navan has been called off, while Hexham’s jumps card on the same day also looks in serious doubt, with officials calling an inspection for 7.30am on Sunday.

Looking even further ahead, officials at Leicester have announced an inspection for 8am on Tuesday ahead of the track’s scheduled fixture on Friday, with the course currently waterlogged and unraceable.

Paul Simpson hailed hat-trick hero Jon Mellish after Carlisle produced one of the shocks of the season in Sky Bet League One.

Matchwinner Mellish bagged a first career hat-trick as the basement boys left Posh’s automatic promotion hopes in tatters with just their sixth win of a miserable season.

Mellish headed Simpson’s men into a 27th-minute lead, which he doubled with a smart volley three minutes into the second half.

The midfield ace completed his treble just before the hour with another spectacular volley before captain Harrison Burrows pulled a goal back for the hosts.

Substitute Jonson Clarke-Harris hit the bar late on as Darren Ferguson’s high-fliers flopped to fall 10 points behind the top two.

Simpson said: “I’m absolutely delighted for the players and the staff but even more happy for the supporters who made the long journey.

“The lads deserve huge credit for the way they went about it and they were three fantastic finishes from Jon. It’s a brilliant win and it’s all about getting some respect and pride back.

“I told Jon I wanted him to get his crazy legs going and cause problems and everyone saw that is what he did!

“We were brave to go short with our first corner and it led to Jon getting himself a free header for a good goal and the next two are fantastic finishes.

“And when we had to change to a back-five to shore things up, he slotted in at centre-back and did a good job.

“He’s an important player for us and he’s had a tough season in terms of goals as he usually gets a lot more, but a hat-trick like this is a great reward.”

Stunned Peterborough boss Darren Ferguson said: “It’s a terrible result and I’m very disappointed.

“How do I explain today? Probably the best way is that collectively we had an off-day and I include myself in that.

“Forget about league tables and how many points you have – if a team performs like we did today they will get beaten.

“We conceded three really soft goals and the lack of quality in the last third is not something I’ve seen from my players this season.

“You can get away with it when two or three players aren’t at it – but not when we all got a three out of 10.

“Maybe I gave the lads too many days off and maybe I could have made changes sooner. These are all things I have to question before I look at the level of performance.

“We’ve got a mountain to climb to get into the top two, but I’m experienced enough to know there is no reason to press the panic button.”

Shrewsbury boss Paul Hurst said he had a feeling Daniel Udoh would get on the scoresheet again after his goal earned a 1-0 victory over rock-bottom Carlisle.

Udoh made the breakthrough five minutes before time, holding off numerous defenders before turning and converting at Harry Lewis’ near post.

The 27-year-old missed a chance to add a second late on but his first-half effort proved enough as Shrewsbury moved nine points clear of the League One relegation zone with their first home victory in seven games.

Udoh was also on the scoresheet as Shrews won 2-1 at Port Vale earlier this month and Hurst, who celebrated his first home win since returning as head coach in January, had a feeling the striker would notch again.

Hurst said: “We could have made it a little bit easier at the end with the chance, ultimately one goal was enough today.

“I said in there (changing room) that I thought he (Udoh) is due a goal and he would score today, as I said when we were at Port Vale.

“I wish it was that easy as I would tell him every game and he would be on the scoresheet but a great finish. He is good at that, he only needs half a yard.

“We have the victory and we will kind of enjoy that I don’t think it was a day for top many words after the game as we haven’t got a game for a while now.

“It’s not very often you get the chance to enjoy the victory so let the lads enjoy it and I am asking Liam (McLaughlin, Shrewsbury analyst) for results and then thankfully a few of them have gone our way.”

Carlisle’s best effort came from Dan Butterworth, who won the ball high up before gliding past a host of Shrewsbury defenders only to be denied by Marko Marosi.

The result leaves them rooted to the foot of the League One standings, 16 points adrift of safety.

Carlisle manager Paul Simpson said: “Really disappointing obviously to come away with nothing from the game. It was a game of few big moments but we were on the wrong side of the big moments today.

“We have probably had three opportunities where we should have done better for their goal.

“We have had a couple of really good chances that we weren’t able to finish, one right at the end of the first half and another from a set-play.

“I think it was a game that was there if we shown a bit more quality in the final third but unfortunately we have come out on the wrong side of it again.

“The biggest difference for me today was when we got into that final third we didn’t show that qualiti. We didn’t find the right passes, crosses or whatever it might be.”

Daniel Udoh’s first-half goal secured Shrewsbury their first home win in seven league games with a 1-0 victory over rock-bottom Carlisle.

After a quiet opening 40 minutes, Shrewsbury broke the deadlock just before the interval through leading scorer Udoh.

The 27-year-old received a ball into the box and did well to hold off a defender before spinning and firing past Harry Lewis at his near post.

Shrewsbury nearly doubled their lead three minutes later when Carl Winchester struck from inside the box, but Lewis tipped the ball out for a corner.

Carlisle came close to an equaliser through Dan Butterworth just before the hour.

He won the ball high up the pitch before dancing around the Shrewsbury defence and attempting a shot from close range, but Marko Marosi did well to save and clear the danger.

Butterworth went close again soon after from a free-kick on the edge of the box, but his effort whistled past the post.

That was as close as the visitors would come and Udoh almost snatched a second late on with an effort from the edge of the box which flew over the bar.

Barnsley boss Neill Collins praised his side’s reaction from their weekend mauling as they came from a goal down to beat Carlisle 3-2.

Question marks were raised about the Tykes’ promotion credentials after they were hammered 5-1 by Lincoln on Saturday.

But, despite falling behind to Luke Armstrong’s early goal, they equalled a club record of 10 successive away games unbeaten in the same season.

Goals from captain Jordan Williams, John McAtee and Jonathan Russell put them in command and they held on for all three points after Daniel Butterworth pulled one back for League One’s bottom club Carlisle.

And Collins said: “That’s a huge win and in some respects our biggest win of the season.

“We are on a great run, but despite all of the positives, one performance gets questions asked and I thought the players answered them well.

“It’s fantastic to get a big record like that at a club like Barnsley who have had a lot of good teams over the years.

“One mistake and it was a goal and in the back of the net, but after that we were really good.

“We could have been ahead at half-time but we came out and continued and really could have had more.

“There was another mistake at the end and that made it a bit more interesting than I would have liked.”

Williams produced a fine 20-yard strike to level in the 33rd minute.

Collins added: “It was fantastic. Jordan has been an excellent captain and got a great goal. For large parts his performance was excellent.”

Paul Simpson’s Carlisle have lost 11 of their last 12 as relegation straight back to League Two creeps ever closer.

They are now 16 points adrift of safety and Simpson said: “You have to be brutally honest, they were the better team.

“When you look at the levels, you’ve got a team who have been in the Championship and fighting for promotion and we’re where we are because that’s where we deserve to be.

“That’s clear to see in terms of the technical ability of them and the care they took on the passing.

“We had opportunities where we got into the final third, but we don’t take enough care on it.

“The disappointing thing is we work day in and day out on passing and possession drills. We get in good areas, but can’t do it.

“I’ve said to the players that it’s an education. We’re seeing and we’re suffering because we’re coming up against teams who are physically stronger and that’s not a case of just working on it in the gym, they’re psychologically made up better than us.

“That’s something we’ve got to change because we’re aspiring to be like that as a football club.

“We want to improve and be able to compete at this level, but currently we’re a long way off it.”

Barnsley got back to winning ways as they held on for a 3-2 victory at League One bottom club Carlisle.

Neill Collins’ promotion-chasing side were hammered 5-1 by Lincoln on Saturday and it looked like they may have been suffering a hangover when Carlisle took an early lead through Luke Armstrong.

But Jordan Williams, John McAtee and Jonathan Russell all scored for the visitors before Daniel Butterworth set up a tense finish.

Armstrong started the scoring when he grabbed his second goal in as many games in the 10th minute.

Captain Williams produced a fine 20-yard strike to level in the 33rd minute.

McAtee rattled the crossbar minutes later before Sam Cosgrove forced Carlisle goalkeeper Harry Lewis into a good stop to tip his powerful strike over.

After the break, McAtee poked home the second after Cosgrove dinked the ball over Lewis.

Towering Russell got the third when he nodded home Corey O’Keeffe’s cross at the back post with 14 minutes left.

Butterworth pulled one back with three minutes to go but Barnsley held on for the points as Paul Simpson’s strugglers lost for the 11th time in their last 12 league outings.

Charlton manager Nathan Jones said he was pleased to have League One top scorer Alfie May spearheading his attack as the striker’s 19th and 20th league goals of the season earned a 3-2 win over Carlisle.

Charlton did not have it all their own way, going behind to a 20th-minute volley from Luke Armstrong, but goals either side of half-time from May and Daniel Kanu helped to resume normal service.

Taylor Charters equalised with a 63rd-minute penalty after Armstrong was fouled by Macaulay Gillesphey but 15 minutes from time May pounced on a Sam Lavelle back-pass to claim the points.

“He’s a wonderful player,” Jones said of his striker, who arrived for his own media duties with a bottle of champagne.

“He’s a clever player, he’s a great lad and he’s brilliant around the place. He thinks about his game, he thinks about his movement and he doesn’t just go and play off the cuff.

“He’s scored goals wherever he’s been, he’s come here and he’s been scoring goals. His dip coincided with a dip in the team’s form, which can happen, but all you have to do is keep giving these players confidence and keep talking to them and Alfie’s responded fantastically well.”

The result moves Charlton 10 points clear of relegation but Jones insisted he remains focused on his team playing well.

“It wasn’t [about] survival, it was about getting performances,” he said. “Yes, we want to make sure that we don’t get sucked into any kind of relegation thing but we want to finish as high as we possibly can because we want to build.

“We’re not just planning for now, we want to build for the future as well.”

Carlisle boss Paul Simpson felt his team merited a much-needed point.

“The players have worked extremely hard today and probably deserved something out of it but unfortunately we go away with nothing again, which is the story of our season,” he said.

“For long periods I thought we looked decent. I thought our shape was good. I thought the plan that we had was good.”

“I’m pleased with some individual performances. Harry [Lewis]. Dylan McGeouch got on the ball and passed the ball well for us. Harrison [Neal] had another good game. Good for Luke to get a goal.”

Unfortunately for Simpson, individual errors cost the Cumbrians. “We’ve just given really poor goals away today,” he said.

“We just haven’t reacted well enough for the second goal. It’s a throw-in and we’ve not squeezed high enough up the pitch to make us nice and compact.”

“The third goal is a mistake and it’s just one of those things. We’ve got to clear our lines in that position.”

Alfie May scored twice as Charlton secured back-to-back League One wins for the first time this season, beating Carlisle 3-2.

After a 20th-minute volley from Luke Armstrong gave the visitors an unlikely lead, Charlton turned the game around with goals either side of half-time – May following up a deflected shot from Daniel Kanu in the 37th minute and Kanu himself crashing home from close range in the 54th.

Carlisle manager Paul Simpson had asked his players to show pride and they did so, Taylor Charters equalising from the penalty spot after Macaulay Gillesphey had fouled Armstrong.

But the hosts’ quality eventually told, May latching onto a loose back-pass from former Addick Sam Lavelle and rounding the keeper to claim his fourth goal in four games after just one in the previous 13.

Charlton’s first home victory since November means they now find themselves comfortably in mid-table, 10 points above 21st-placed Cheltenham and quickly forgetting any relegation concerns.

Carlisle’s 10th loss in 11 games means they will almost certainly go down.

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