United brought some much-needed festive cheer to Brunton Park with three points and three goals which earned them their first home league win since the end of October following a dominant display against struggling Hartlepool in front of an appreciative crowd.
Manager Greg Abbott said: “Credit to the players for the way they approached things today. This was probably the toughest game I’ve had as a manager, for a lot of reasons. If the result hadn’t gone the way we wanted it to then we would have lost a lot of belief outside of the dressing room. That’s how big it was for us."
The game started tentatively with Steve Howard registering the first effort on target when he controlled a long ball forward with his back to goal. He spun and shot but Gillespie was well placed to gather.
Franks then found unexpected space deep inside the Carlisle half and he wasted no time in trying his luck as he let one go on the run. The Carlisle stopper was beaten and was relieved to see it shave the top of the bar as it went behind for a goal kick.
The Cumbrians started to relax and a long ball forward found Robson unmarked. He nodded it down for Potts and a slight touch from him left Miller with a shooting opportunity. He threw a boot at it but it was a scuffed shot and Flinders moved across to grasp it.
A deep free kick from Chantler was only half cleared and McGovern twisted to punt a first-time volley through the gap. Flinders dived low to stop it and he had to recover quickly to prevent Potts from following up.
The goal the home crowd craved came on twenty minutes when former-Pools man Matt Robson crunched a swirling long range shot at Sam Collins. He tried to get out of the way but it hit him on the back and left Flinders wrong footed as it nestled in the bottom corner.
Hartlepool tried to respond and Mike Edwards did well when he cleared a net-bound Howard header off the line following good flank work from Sweeney.
But it was Carlisle who struck again when McGovern sent a low corner at the near post. Miller dived to help it on and Matt Robson was the happy recipient from the confusion that followed when he held his ground before thumping the loose ball into the back of the net.
United controlled the rest of the half as Hartlepool struggled to recover, and Lee Miller went close with a glanced header from another pinpoint McGovern cross.
Robson then produced a real moment of skill to take a difficult ball over the top into his stride. His immediate delivery had Beck interested but the big striker couldn’t make contact as the ball whipped across the face of the six-yard box.
The Cumbrians picked up where they had left off after the break and Flinders had to punch a Robson clear as it invited Miller and Beck to attack.
The pressure continued to build and McGovern did well to get a 24-yard free kick over the wall. Flinders saw it late and reacted sharply to get his body in the way.
Liam Noble was as keen as ever to shoot on sight and a dipping effort caused problems as it skipped up in front of the keeper. Potts raced in to get the scraps but Flinders did enough to push it out of the way.
Robson came into the game even more and he beat his man before clipping it into the danger area. Humphreys stepped in to clear the ball from under the bar and Horwood had to throw himself in the way as Noble went for glory once again.
Beck was next to go close when he put his head to an instinctive ball into the box from McGovern. The busy keeper did well to make his save but he needed help to complete the clearance.
Hartlepool finally enjoyed a spell of their own with Monkhouse twice going close, but a combination of good defending and bad finishing ensured that a clean sheet was maintained.
Howard then had one cleared off the line and Franks produced an air shot with Livesey and Edwards showing a desire not to allow their goal to be breached.
The goal of the game sealed the deal midway through the half when Noble and Chantler combined to release Robson on the left wing. His pace took him to the edge of the box and a measured cross left Lee Miller with the simple task of grabbing his first goal of the season from very close range.
United sat deep to protect their lead with the back four working hard to close any gaps as they appeared. Teenagers Josh Todd and Sean McGinty made their debuts for the club as the clock ticked down and the afternoon was summed up for the visitors when James floated a ball to the back post. Sweeney steamed in but he somehow missed the target when it looked easier to score.
United - Robson (20, 26), Miller (73)
Pools - Horwood (52)
Carlisle United - Gillespie, Simek, Edwards, Livesey, Chantler (McGinty 90), Potts, Thirlwell (Beck 22), Noble, McGovern, Robson, Miller (Todd 85). Subs - Collin, Welsh, Loy, Symington.
Hartlepool United - Flinders, Humphreys, Collins, Horwood, Franks, Monkhouse (Poole 73), Sweeney, Richards, Hartley, Wyke, Howard (James 83). Subs - Walton, Luscombe, Murray, Holden, McHugh.
Referee - Mark Halsey
Attendance - 5,380 (447 away fans)