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Carlisle boss Greg Abbott was brutally honest in appraising his side’s uncompromising approach to the game at Brentford.

“We came with a plan and that was to get everyone behind the ball as quickly as possible as soon as we lost it,” he admitted, with more than a glint in his eye. “I’m not embarrassed about that. It was what we had to do after the start we’ve had and it worked against a side who will definitely be up there at the end of the season.”

In those two sentences lurk the banana skins that could jeopardise Brentford’s season unless they approach every game… yes, like a cup final.

Carlisle, ably assisted by a hapless referee, did what many sides mid-table and below will do this season and ‘parked the bus’ hoping for a chance to nick something. It’s why the new Brentford tend to do better against the so-called bigger sides, who have a reputation to maintain and as a result come to west London looking for a result.

Carlisle offered little, were physically robust and even with the extra man, showed the kind of ambition that will hopefully see them remain rooted near the bottom. But Brentford, admittedly well below par and robbed of a perfectly good match winner late on, simply didn’t have the energy or guile to unlock them.

Hopefully, and a response at Bradford will go some way to dispelling this, they haven’t started to believe their own hype after being treated like Premiership stars and given the day off on Tuesday while Carlisle were on cup duty.

The squad has been strengthened but surely it’s unfair to expect Jake Reeves to come on and save the day, his naivete never more obvious than when he spanked a cross shot well wide rather than drilling it low and hard into the mix.

There may be more days like this as even the ‘big teams’ begin to sit back and wait for their time to counter. Unless we play with passion and tempo.

The loss of McAlaney has robbed us of the one thing that unsettles deep lying defences – that electric burst of pace over the first few yards. But I’m sure Uwe will be addressing that within the next 24 hours.

The other factor that Brentford have to overcome now sadly seems to be a constant… the desperate shortage of referees who actually understand the game.

On at least three occasions yesterday official David Phillips made a decision and then changed his mind in the space of seconds – a free kick on the edge of the Carlisle box, a second yellow for Lee Miller and allowing himself to be harassed into an admittedly correct red card by Carlisle’s players to name a few.

The only decision he was adamant about was the disallowed goal, by which time I’m sure the referees assessor had already decided on his mark.

Fact is, many of the refs we see now have clearly never played the game, don’t look fit and get even the most clear cut decisions wrong. And that, in the course of a season, can mean the difference between promotion or play offs, new contracts or not.

The trick is to make the effect of the constant stream of bad refs pouring out of the Football League HQ a secondary issue.

Still fourth though, and we’re not even firing yet.

Jim Levack