The Cumbrians fell to a cruel 95th minute defeat in the play-off semi-final against Exeter.
Carlisle United’s League Two push for promotion dream came to a cruel end after they lost to a stoppage time winner away to Exeter.
But while the campaign eventually came to a heartbreaking end, the Cumbrians had a rollercoaster season that saw them come so close to a Wembley play-off final.
We look back at the flashpoints and key games of the season that promised so much.
1 Tuesday 23rd August 2016 – Derby County 1-1 Carlisle United (15-14 on penalties)
The EFL Cup is occasionally the home for absolutely bonkers results, and when Carlisle scored a 95th minute equaliser against Derby County and earned themselves a penalty shootout after both sides drew a blank in extra-time, it was only the start of the story.
Most players would usually be content with scoring one penalty in a shootout, but as the score read 9-9 after the first round of spot-kicks, the team went on another rotation in an incredible encounter.
Five players who had already stepped up to the mark slotted home their second spot-kick, before Carlisle’s Joe McKee saw his second penalty saved.
It was left for Derby’s Timi Elsnik to fire in the final penalty, as the Rams earned a 15-14 penalty shootout victory.
2 Saturday 29th October 2016 – Carlisle United 3-1 Crawley Town
Carlisle’s season got off to an absolute flyer, and their 3-1 victory over Crawley Town saw them record their 15th game unbeaten in League Two.
Keith Curle’s side secured the three points with a first-half blitz scoring three times through Jabo Ibehre, Jason Kennedy and Luke Joyce.
The result put Carlisle second in the League Two table, four points behind Plymouth who themselves had enjoyed a sterling start to the league season.
3 Saturday 25th March 2017 – Carlisle United 0-2 Crewe Alexandra
Having been in League Two’s top seven since September, a run of five defeats in six games culminated in the Cumbrians welcoming 18th-placed Crewe Alexandra to Brunton Park.
Things went from bad to worse for Keith Curle’s side a s goal in each half saw Crewe run away 2-0 victors, but most importantly for Carlisle was dropping out of the top seven for the first time in six months.
4 Saturday 22nd April 2017 – Crawley Town 3-3 Carlisle United
Leading 3-2 until the 92nd minute of the game, Carlisle United looked like they would claim a vital three points over Crawley Town in the third to last game of the League Two season.
A win would have put them into the play-off places, but Crawley midfielder Jimmy Smith smuggled a 92nd minuted equaliser for the Red Devils, meaning the Cumbrians dropped to 10th in the table. Cruel, cruel world.
5 Saturday 6th May 2017 – Exeter 2-3 Carlisle United
League Two’s final day was dramatic across the board. The title, relegation places and play-off spots were still up for grabs, and Carlisle staged a dramatic second-half comeback to secure a 3-2 victory over fellow play-off hopefuls Exeter City.
Danny Grainger and Jamie Proctor scored within three minutes of each other in the second half to seal Carlisle’s position in the League Two play-off places, to ensure the season is still well and truly alive at Brunton Park.
6 Exeter get revenge at the last in play-off semis
All football fans will know that the play-offs are a cruel mistress. But nothing could prepare any Carlisle fan for how cruel their play-off exit against Exeter would be.
Heading into the second leg at 3-3 on aggregate after a pulsating first leg, the Cumbrians scored a 90th minute equaliser through John O’Sullivan to send the away fans into raptures.
But there was still one more twist in this tale. As the game looked certain to be heading into extra time, Grecians midfielder Jack Stacey launched a left-footed rocket past Mark Gillespie in the 95th minute.
Cue bedlam, as the home fans streamed onto the pitch to celebrate, while the Carlisle fans were left stunned, with a brutal 350 mile trip home.