Defender Aaron Hayden took the role of team captain for the home game against Crawley on Tuesday night and he admitted afterwards that right up there with the honour of wearing the armband was keeping clean sheet number 10 for the season, an achievement which set the platform for the eventual victory.
“It gives me great pride to wear the armband when I get the chance,” he confirmed. “I relish it and it was nice to get the win with the armband on.
“But even more than that the clean sheet was vital. We haven’t had one in ages, which has been really disappointing. I think it’s been 13 games without one and that’s what you build wins off, and we showed that in this game.
“We were very clean and we didn’t make any mistakes to cost us goals. We defended resolutely right until the end. Jack Armer came in and did really well, as did George Tanner, Rod McDonald and Paul Farman, which was really pleasing.
“Personally it’s been very frustrating, and as a team it’s been very frustrating to have not been getting the clean sheets. I think frustrating is the main word I would use to sum up the last few weeks.
“We’ve been coming off the pitch talking about goals we should have scored, or wins we should have had, instead of actually getting them. It’s all about going forward now.
“That’s why it’s a result that was massive for the boys. Everyone is buzzing to get the three points after trying for so long and there’s a good vibe in the changing room right now.”
On a performance that saw the team dominate for 90 minutes, he told us: “We capitalised in the first half when we had our chances.
“Joe and Omari’s goals came when we were really on top in the game and we put them to the sword. I think we’ve been guilty of not doing that when we’ve started well in previous games, so it was good to do that part of the game properly.
“I think that was important because we’ve reminded people we’re still here and still fighting. We aren’t down and out, we’re still scrapping and looking up the table. There’s still 30 points to play for and we want to try and get back up to where we were.
“We really forced the play and it’s our job to come out here and do that every week. There’s no excuses, that’s what we get paid to do.
“We have to come out and represent the people of Carlisle and ourselves. In every game I will, and I’ll make sure the boys will, because I want us to be fighting and giving everything to try and get us wins.”
Leading up to kick-off, there seemed to be a feeling around the stadium that it was going to be a night where a good performance was almost guaranteed.
“The wind wasn’t blowing, which was a really nice change!” he joked. “It did feel a bit like something was in the air before the game.
“The boys have obviously been trying so hard and we give everything in every game, there’s never been a lack of effort even when we haven’t been getting the results. That makes it even more pleasing that we’ve been able to get these three points as a reward for the hard work.
“I think naturally if you aren’t winning games you’re going to lose confidence. When that happens you’ve got to try and do the things you were doing when you were winning. We’ve stuck to that and we’ve got another three points, which is the main thing.”
When results haven’t been going your way people tend to ask why, with it usually being near impossible to pinpoint any single factor.
“It’s different things and it’s hard to point at one thing that has caused the run we’ve been on,” he told us. “It’s a collection of things that culminate when things aren’t going your way.
“It’s just about working to try and get as many things to go your way as you can, and we’ve done that and got the win we needed, which is a relief for everybody.
“When you’re on a bad run it has to be the time where you show your strength and flex your muscles. You can’t really show how strong you are when everything is going well, but when times get tough you have to stick together and show what you’re made of as a team.
“The season is still there for us to go and do something, believe it or not. I’ll be honest, being on a run like that is demoralising, but it’s part of life. Things aren’t always going to go your way, you aren’t always going to get what you want.
“As you grow and mature you learn that that’s how life is, so then you just have to learn to deal with it. You have to keep doing the right things, which is exactly what we’ve done.
“There have been a few times in the last couple of months where we’ve gone into the dressing room and asked each other what has happened. That’s why it’s good to get back to going in there, giving each other a high five and not be thinking about the what ifs.”
“I think this run has brought us closer as a group because you find out more about what people are about,” he added. “We’re still a tight group of lads and we just want to push on together now.
“We never lost any belief. It’s still there for us to go and do something. As much as the run has been bad, and there’s been doom and gloom, we’ve just got to focus on the next game and make sure we do the right things again.”
On his own form, he told us: “I think I got back to the standards I set for myself. Being really critical of myself, I feel like I haven’t been at those standards.
“I felt really comfortable out there on Tuesday and I’m just really happy we got the win. What I’ve been through in the past, I’ve been through tough times to get to this point and it’s all about making sure you never stop fighting. You have to have a positive mindset and continually look to the future.”
And the immediate future is a long away trip to Southend.
“What we need to do now is take the positive vibes, momentum and energy into that game on Saturday,” he said. “It’s a long trip but we’ll be going down there with the same attitude and energy we’ve shown for a while now to hopefully get another three points.
“Our away form needs to be better, I think the last time we won away was probably Walsall right at the start of the year, so we need to get back to winning ways on the road.
“I think everyone knows what has gone on and the situation we’ve been in but it’s no excuse. We’re here now, all we can affect is the future and we’ll be looking to get the three points on Saturday.”
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