Striker Shaun Miller admitted this week that the manner in which last season ended was still weighing heavily on his mind but he also insisted that there is a determination within the camp to go one better next time round.
“Everyone involved with the football club will have been genuinely gutted at the end of last season,” he said. “We expected so much of ourselves all season, then we dropped out of the play-offs and that was unbelievably frustrating.
"We managed to get ourselves back in there so to go out with almost the last kick of the tie to a goal from a lad who hadn’t scored for Exeter before, on his weak foot and from 25 yards out - you just can’t explain it.
“Everyone was obviously massively disappointed but I think we’ve got to use that going into next year. We’ve all tasted what could have been. We were in the automatics for so long and then we were one game away from Wembley. We were so close and we’ve got to make sure we do the job next year."
“I think the way it all happened at the end does make it feel even worse," he added. "You can’t describe the emotions, we just couldn’t believe it. We were 2-0 down at Exeter with ten minutes to go and I’m sure a lot of people would have thought we couldn’t do it that time.
"We did, we got it back to 2-2, then we lost out in the 95th minute which was just unbelievable. We’d done it to them enough during the season and it was our turn to be on the wrong end of it on that occasion. Like I say, we’ve got to use it to make sure we go one step further next year.
“All we can do is learn from it and push on again. The lads who were on the pitch, on the bench or even in the stands knew what had been done to get to that point and we want it again. We want to improve on it and the only way to do that is by getting promotion. That was the goal last season and it will be the same again next time. That disappointment should hopefully spur us on to go one step further.
"The good thing is that we have a very competitive squad and the gaffer is going to add to that. We suffered a bit with injuries at crucial times but all teams have that. We’ve still got a quality squad as we go into next season and we’ll be looking to mount another promotion push next year."
On his first season with the club, he commented: “Towards the end of the season I felt I was starting to show people what I was about again. I had a couple of unnecessary disruptions along the way and some of them were down to me.
"I’ve only got myself to blame for the sendings off. The first one was silly because it was at a point where I was playing well and the team was doing well. I’d had a good run of games and it just wasn't needed.
"The second one came with an extra game ban and I was disappointed with myself. The challenge was made with a little bit of frustration, but it obviously wasn’t my intention to get sent off when I went in for the tackle.
"Like I say, the first one was silly. It was for kicking the ball away and a hand ball, which is pathetic really. You’ve got to hold your hands up and look to learn from it. Hopefully if I'm ever in the same position again I’ll take a few seconds to think about it and know it isn’t worth it. It affects the whole team, as well as yourself, so you have to have that at the front of your mind."
“I kept my head down after the suspension and I worked hard to get back into the match day squad," he continued. "I got back onto the bench and I felt I did well when I came on against Exeter.
"It all felt like it meant something and that it was going to be a good end to the season for me, so that was another part of the disappointment of going out in the semi-final."
A return of eight goals in 39 appearances from his first campaign with the club, which included a vital strike during the play-off semi-final first leg against Exeter, has set the forward up nicely as he looks to improve on his tally next time round.
"I've enjoyed my first year but I'll be looking to make it an even better one from the moment we get back in July," he told us. "I know what Carlisle is all about and I know what we want to be doing as a team, and I’ll be ready to hit the ground running.
I know what Carlisle is all about and I know what we want to be doing as a team ...
"Having a contract already in place makes it a lot easier through the summer. I’ve been out of contract the last couple of years and it isn’t a nice feeling for anyone. It’s uncertain for your family, in terms of which part of the country you’re going to be in, and it’s all up in the air. It was great to get a two-year contract here because it means you can focus on what you need to do.
“I’m sure the gaffer will be bringing in some good new faces and I’d like to think the squad will be even stronger. Pre-season was very competitive last year and it remained that way throughout the season. We’ll be looking to keep it exactly the same and the fact is you need to impress the manager and show him you should be in the team because of the work you're doing.
“I’ve been through a full pre-season here once before so I know it won’t be easy. That’s why the emphasis is on keeping yourself fit through the summer. I generally enjoy the challenge of doing that, and I’m a fit person anyway, so it shouldn’t be too much of a concern. I can’t wait to have another crack at everything next year.”
“I obviously had my meeting with the gaffer at the end of the season and it was positive even though the overall feeling from the season is disappointment," he concluded. "It’s a case of not letting that affect us and being more ready than ever for the next challenge.
"We need to get promoted, that’s the main aim. We missed out narrowly last season and we don’t want to be doing that again this time."
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