Vale of Lune struck late at Carlisle to record back-to-back victories in North One West.
The visitors didn’t reach the heights of their win against Kendal last time out with a youthful Carlisle side more than capable of meeting Vale’s challenge in addition to always posing a threat when they went onto the front foot.
Defences were on top but this did not mean the game was a boring affair.
Far from it, there was passion a plenty between two well-matched squads and for long periods the game was evenly balanced but with the clock ticking down and trailing 6-0, the Vale appeared to be heading for defeat before suddenly they turned the game on its head.
Even though lock Andy Powers was off the field having been shown a yellow card that led to the home side’s second penalty, the Vale started to take the game to Carlisle in a concerted manner.
Oliver Carter took a quick tap penalty to carve a huge opening in Carlisle’s defence and suddenly the Cumbrian’s were scrambling deep in the their half.
The pressure started to mount, the Vale’s rolling mauls was eating up valuable metres and sapping Carlisle’s energies.
Scrum time began to work in Vale’s favour, Carlisle desperately clung on as scrum followed scrum in rapid succession and then the inevitable happened, they had a player yellow card.
Back into action came Powers to add extra oomph to a five metre scrum which drove Carlisle over the whitewash and amidst all the whooping and hollering skipper Sam Wallbank claimed the try.
A calm Carter lined up the conversion, slightly to the left of the uprights, and directed the ball between the posts with a well struck thump in the 79th minute.
It should have been game over but the Vale dithered from the restart and played into Carlisle’s hands, who were smarting after conceding their lead.
All that was required was either to boot the ball into touch or heave it as far downfield as possible, but the Vale did neither.
They tried to run the ball and were trapped, eventually it was paddled unconvincingly into touch.
Carlisle’s line out was full of nervous energy but they did draw a scrum from the untidiness.
The Vale looked solid enough, they nudged Carlisle round but referee Pellow blew a long blast on his whistle and raised his arm to signal a penalty against the visitors.
Stand off Damien Armstrong lined up his crucial kick but to the relief of the Vale and Carlisle’s disappointment the ball slid by the left hand upright, to give the Vale not only their first away win in North One West since September 15 but their first double.
After an enterprising opening from both sides Armstrong kicked a penalty goal on the seventh minute but their was little to chose between two clubs who were separated by four points before kick off.
Vale did not really get to grips with the first half, defending well without really threatening Carlisle’s line after some early scoring chances went begging.
A golden opportunity for the Vale to score presented itself in the 56th minute when Alistair Richards raced out of Vale’s half. Rob Lamberton, who was elusive throughout, carried on the move, Andy Garnett raced for the corner but in a two-on-one situation the Vale made a hash of the state of affairs and came away empty handed.
In the 65th minute Vale’s misdemeanours were punished with Armstrong’s second penalty but this set back only galvanised the Vale who started to play their most cohesive rugby of the game.
Just when a Vale victory appeared so near yet so far the breakthrough came, followed by an agonising of three minutes of extra time.