Carlisle put their Wembley disappointment behind them with a dominant display against a lacklustre Bristol Rovers side, whose lingering play-off hopes took a serious knock with this 3-1 defeat at Brunton Park.
The game burst into life with four goals in a nine-minute spell after the break, during which time Rovers conceded two penalties and went down to 10 men with the dismissal of Jeff Hughes. Ian Harte's first spot-kick was equalised within a minute by Jeff Heffernan but Jason Price restored Carlisle's lead and Harte added a second penalty for his 16th goal of the season.
The first 45 minutes belonged almost exclusively to Carlisle and Rovers did not test home keeper Adam Collin with a single shot.
Carlisle went close to scoring in the 25th minute when Harte's 25-yard free-kick looked goal-bound until visiting keeper Mikkel Andersen pushed the ball away for a corner.
The same pattern of Carlisle pressure continued in the second half and it was rewarded in the 56th minute when Adam Clayton was brought down in the box. The foul led to a red card for Hughes and Harte blasted the spot-kick past Andersen.
Carlisle's lead lasted only a minute when Heffernan burst through the middle of a static defence to thump a shot past Collin from 10 yards.
Carlisle regained the lead after 61 minutes. Evan Horwood shot across goal from a tight angle and Price was at the far post to supply the final touch.
Carlisle's second penalty came in the 75th minute when Clayton threaded the ball through to Price who was sent tumbling by Steve Elliott. This time Harte coolly sent Andersen the wrong way from the spot.
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