Defender Gary Miller hit a personal career milestone on Tuesday night at Gresty Road when he made appearance number 350, and he marked the occasion with a stunner of a goal which brought the Blues right back into the game following what had been a troubled start.
Having struck it so sweetly, from just outside the box, we wondered if it ranked up there with the best he’s scored to date.
“I don’t think it’s my best one,” he told us. “I’ve scored a couple from that kind of rane, but it is great to get a goal however it goes in. I don’t get too many so, when I do, they tend to be quite good.
“It was a great ball from Kelvin [Etuhu] and I just took a touch and hit it. It helped the lads to get back level at 1-1 so there was a bit of celebrating and enjoying the moment. Yeah, it’s good to score, but it’s more important to try to get results, and that’s why it was gutting when they snatched another goal.”
When pushed more on how it felt to see it bulge the net, he said: “Individual honours come for players at the end of the season and, at the end of the day, it’s just another goal that’s added on to the rest of the goals the lads have scored.
“It’s great to score for self-achievements that way, but we work towards getting three points from Monday to Friday every week and that’s why it’s so disappointing when it doesn’t happen.
“But, yes, it is nice, simply because they don’t come for me too often. I had a good view of it after I hit it and it went right into the corner. I checked my shoulder and I saw I had space, so I knew I could take a touch and have a go.
“There was nobody tracking me so I was able to watch it as it went in. That’s when I turned away to celebrate and Kel and Hallam chased after me, so it was a good moment. I’d been reminded before the game that it was my 350th appearance so to cap it off with a goal makes it quite memorable.”
With 13 senior years under his belt, and hopefully more to come, he said: “When you start out you set yourself targets to achieve and it’s nice to keep ticking some of them off.
“At times it feels like it’s all flown by. Sometimes during a season it can feel like it’s a bit tough, but when you get to the end of the year you do find yourself wondering where it’s gone. You just want to keep playing so all you can do is your best and try to keep going.
“The big thing for me here is that I want to show the Carlisle fans what I’m about. I felt I did that a little bit more the other day. I have to be honest and say that I was a little bit tired towards the end of the game, because that was my first Saturday-Tuesday run in a while. I’d had four games in two weeks so it’s just about building that up and adding to it.”
Tuesday night brought an extra challenge when he moved forward to play as a wing back on the right hand side of a five man defence.
“I ended up panting a bit, I don’t mind admitting that, because that’s a role where you have to cover a lot of ground. It’s not the easiest position at the best of times, and definitely not when you’re down to ten men.
“I’ve played there quite a few times over the years. It’s a position where you have to get high, but you also need to get back whenever you’re needed as well. It’s not a job that’s as easy as the top players make it out to be, but it’s something I was happy to get on with.”
The Blues had gone behind early in the piece despite having come out of the blocks well.
“It was quite annoying because we’d started the game brightly,” he commented. “I think we were on a break, but they counter-attacked and it was a great ball that was whipped in.
“You just have to get on with it when you concede that early and we know we can always come back if we play the game the way we know we can. Obviously it got tougher with what happened to Dev.
“I’m not sure it was a sending off, but we’ll leave that there. These things happen in football and you get decisions that you aren’t always happy with, so that’s when you need the team spirit to come through.”
“The positive we take from it is that we’ve shown we can work hard and stick together, even when we are a man down,” he added. “You can start to feel hard done by so the manager sat us down at half time and told us to be patient and keep doing what we were doing.
“We created a few chances, to be fair, and the fact that we were pushing them back meant they were worrying about us as much as we were worrying about them. The lads gave their all and, even though you could tell some of the lads were tired, we all kept going.
“We actually wanted to get at least a point. The gaffer showed his intention when he put Mark Cullen on, and then he even sent Adam Collin up for a corner at the end. Some of the defensive blocks that were happening were unreal and there was composure in the way we kept trying to pass it around.
“Regan Slater summed up the attitude we all had at the end when he sprinted back to cover the empty net, and it’s things like that which spur the other players on.”
Noticeable as the final whistle went was the noise from the Blue Army as they showed their appreciation for what had been a determined performance from their team.
“We all went over and applauded the fans at the end because we really appreciate the support they give us,” he said. “They could see we were up against it after the sending off, but they could also see that we put the effort in for them and for ourselves.
“The only down side is that we didn’t give them the result their support deserved. Hopefully we’ll put that right this weekend.”
And a club led campaign to get at least 8,000 fans into Brunton Park will mean that the atmosphere should be a good one when MK Dons come to town at the weekend.
“The jovial stuff the club and players have been doing to help get the message out there has been great – I’ve been promised loads of pancakes if we win the game – and it’s going to be nice to see a lot of fans inside the stadium,” he told us.
“We’re looking to get a positive result against another team that’s up there with us. It’ll be a tough game, but it’s one we’re all looking forward to.”
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