Pools' seven-game unbeaten run came to an end at Brunton Park this evening as Craig Hignett's side fell to a 1-0 defeat.
Carlisle United's Hallam Hope got the only goal of the game on 55 minutes on a night when Pools can count themselves unlucky not to have left with at least a point.
Luke James went close to getting the game off to the perfect start with his first goal since his return on loan. Pools attacked from the kick off and, when the ball was played in by Carl Magnay from the right, James forced himself in to send a shot which flashed across goal and out at the far post. Pools looked a confident side this evening, defending with composure remaining calm in possession. Nicky Featherstone in particular was a real rock in the first half, and was there to mop up everything in front of the back four. Carlisle United, as you would expect from the hosts, saw plenty of the ball but found Pools tough to break down. Tom Miller did get through down the right before he pushed infield to shoot from the edge of the box. Trevor Carson held it comfortably in the corner. Matthew Bates sent a lovely ball over the top to set up former Carlisle man Billy Paynter. The big striker bullied his way past the defender to shoot at goal but Mark Gillespie denied him with a decent block. The hosts broke upfield on the counter attack after the chance but Jabo Ibehre sent his shot high over the bar. Bates got his head on a Miller cross from the right which had Carson scrambling back to collect it on the line, while Rhys Oates put in a great challenge inside the box to deny Miller from pouncing on a Jack Stacey low cross. The first half finished goalless but there was nothing to cause Pools great concern and the hosts were actually booed off at the break by a small section of supporters. Keith Curle’s men came out brightly in the second half and caused some early problems in the Pools box. Trevor Carson pulled off another impressive save, this time denying Ibehre’s downward header with a one-handed stop. Pools were next to try their luck on goal with two half-chances, both from Luke James. The on-loan forward first broke in from the right to fire at goal only to see Gillespe push it wide at the near post and then James jinked his way into the box only to send his shot over the bar. It was Carlisle who drew first blood though and it came on 55 minutes. Hallam Hope, on at the break, showed a neat touch to control the ball just inside the box before he then lifted it over Carson, with the help of a deflection, and into the back of the net to give his side the lead. Despite going a goal down and losing Billy Paynter to injury just before, Pools showed a real determination in their approach and had the hosts pinned back for much of the remainder of the game. Luke James lost none of his energy as he forced it forward for his side when in possession, while Nicky Featherstone remained solid in the middle and Pools managed to frustrate both home players and fans alike. Lewis Hawkins drove a shot at goal from distance which grazed the net on its way over as Pools looked to find the goal to extend that seven-game unbeaten run. There were a couple of calls for a penalty from Pools, both as Jason Kennedy looked to handle inside the area but neither were acknowledged by the referee. But for all of the possession Pools had late in this second half, there was not enough to really test home keeper Mark Gillespie as Hignett's men failed to find that crucial final ball. The Carlisle stopper was called into action to deny Jake Carroll and Nicky Featherstone in added time but there was no way through for Pools and the game finished in defeat, bringing to an end the run of seven games without defeat. Full Time: Carlisle United 1 Pools 0 Attendance: 4767 (581 Pools) Booked: Featherstone (90) Carlisle United: Gillespie, Miller, Grainger, Raynes, Kennedy, Ibehre (Asamoah 75), Comley, Stacey, Gillead (Sweeney 67), Gillesphey, Ellis (Hope 46). Subs Not Used: Joyce,Atkinson, Hanford, Thompson. Pools: Carson, Magnay, Bates, Jackson, Carroll, Featherstone, Hawkins, Gray (Walker 66), James, Paynter (Bingham 53), Oates. Subs Not Used: Bartlett, Harrison, Richards, R Jones, Laurent, Walker.