Cumbrians manager Keith Curle lamented Carlisle’s “fragile” defending and the “soft goals” they conceded after his side suffered a heavy 4-1 defeat to Northampton on Saturday.
An unmarked John Marquis headed home Lee Martin’s cross to put the Cobblers in front before John-Joe O’Toole made it 2-0 at half-time.
Hallam Hope pulled one back for Carlisle within 90 seconds of the restart but O’Toole and then James Collins both profited from some Ricky Holmes wizardry to put the seal on a terrific Northampton victory.
Before the match, Curle had expressed his “surprise” at seeing the Cobblers so far clear at the top of League Two and the United boss felt it was more his side’s poor defending rather than Northampton’s good play that proved the difference in Saturday’s result.
“I have to be honest I thought the goals we gave away were soft from a defending point of view,” he said.
“They have good players who are playing with confidence and they came up against a defence which looked fragile.
“That’s something I’m not used to. A little bit of movement and creativity from them upset our defenders. We didn’t do the basics when we had people running off our shoulders and it cost us.
“I’m not sure I’d say we showed them too much respect but we were sitting off them and that’s why we made the changes we did. I wanted us to be more aggressive in our approach and I thought that’s the reaction we were going to get after we scored our goal.
“They scored goals at the right time and a little bit of luck came their way with the deflections. We had a couple of similar situations where ours went wide. The one they had went in the middle of the goal when the keeper had set himself to go the other way.
“It was disappointing that we didn’t really test their keeper but the chances were there for us. We weren’t clinical enough when they came along and you can’t afford that when you’re up against the team at the top of the table.
“However, they haven’t had to earn their victory. We didn’t really make a full fist of taking the game to them. The fact is that if you give a good team goals like that you’re going to be in for a long afternoon.
“I’ve complained about our defending, but you have to give Northampton credit because they do have good movement and the players who can create things from it.
“They have lads who are game changers and game winners and their forwards gave their creative players a springboard to play off. Some of the things they did weren’t too difficult to play against, but we managed to make it look that way on too many occasions.
“One thing I will say is their ball mastery in the final third was better than ours and it made a difference. We showed a lack of discipline in our box and a lack of quality when we got into their half.”