MISSED opportunities paved the way for Carlisle United to poach three valuable League Two points at Brunton Park this afternoon, according to Swindon Town manager Richie Wellens.

In a game of few chances, United fortuitously took the lead through Hallam Hope’s deflected effort before Callum O’Hare’s strike 11 minutes from time made Kyle Bennett’s earlier free-kick irrelevant in the eyes of the home side.

Town’s loss, their first in six matches, has dropped them six points short of the play-off frame – though they crucially have a game in hand.

Wellens admitted the defeat was tough to take, adding that failing to get on the end of good crosses hurt his side’s goalscoring possibilities.

He said: “It’s a tough one to take. They scored from their first shot in the first half which deflected and went over the line really slowly.

“Apart from at the end where Vigouroux made a good save, they didn’t really have a shot in the second half – in fact they very rarely got out of their own half “But we missed opportunities and had a number of balls flying across the box. When you don’t take those chances, you run the risk of losing the game.

“We should’ve won it, and we definitely shouldn’t be getting beat.”

The 38-year-old made an early call of judgement by replacing holding midfielder Jak McCourt with forward-thinking playmaker Keshi Anderson on the half-hour mark.

Wellens’ call worked well as Anderson made a nuisance of himself on the edge of the area.

But off days for Theo Robinson and Kaiyne Woolery – who rarely troubled home ‘keeper Collin – ultimately helped United scramble back into the division’s top seven. “Jak McCourt was giving the ball away too much,” said Wellens.

“I wanted my sitter to dominate the game, because he would be free all the time.

“But their sitter (Slater) dominated the ball, so Keshi (Anderson) came on to eliminate it. You have to make those decisions.

“We tried to change the formation with the personal, and it just wasn’t working. I thought Keshi was really bright when he came on.

“And Kaiyne (Woolery) played really well, he got into good positions. But that last little bit was missing.

“Theo (Robinson) had a bit of an off day and Kyle (Bennett) was a threat.”

Frustratingly for Wellens, Town were denied what appeared to be a clear penalty in injury time after Anderson’s strike was handled by Gerrard.

Officials waved play on amid protests, which resulted in James Dunne picking up a yellow card.

The decision to allow play to continue could only be justified by an equally poor decision to deny United a penalty in the first half – when Jak McCourt’s hand clearly struck the ball from a cross.

Wellens added: “We should’ve had a penalty at the end, the defender lent into it and handballed it. It’s important we stay positive, we still have a small opportunity to do something this year.”