The Reds will make their longest away trip of the season as they set off for Carlisle United who we play in Cumbria at 7pm tomorrow night.
Tomorrow’s opponents looked obvious favourites for promotion earlier on in the season, but a COVID-19 outbreak, a lengthy frozen pitch and a consequent eight-game winless run saw the Blues drop right out of the play-off positions, as they now sit in 14th spot after winning once in their last 13 fixtures.
Since picking up five points from a possible nine in games against Grimsby, Bradford and Mansfield earlier this month, Carlisle have hit another slump, losing to Stevenage, Leyton Orient and Cambridge United.
The Cumbrians travelled to Stevenage just nine days ago for what would be a difficult game against a side with an upturn in form. Carlisle made the fixture even trickier for themselves eighteen minutes in when Rodney McDonald was shown red. Tom Pett opened the scoring for the hosts five minutes later but Carlisle worked hard to claim an equaliser through Brennan Dickenson.
Luke Norris and Arthur Read’s goals in the second-half sunk the Blues after Stevenage shared 68% of possession, capitalising on the extra man advantage.
Carlisle then hosted Leyton Orient who had gone three unbeaten after a 4-0 thumping at Exeter City under Jobi McAnuff. Conor Wilkinson’s goal proved decisive in a 0-1 victory in Cumbria, as again Carlisle struggled for goal scoring opportunities.
Next up it was high-flyers Cambridge United who travelled to Brunton Park. League top-scorer Paul Mullin scored the opener on the brink of half-time for the U’s as Lewis Alessandra levelled things up for the home side on 78 minutes. But again it was disappointment for Chris Beech’s men when substitute Adam May came on late to score a decisive winner in the last minute of normal time.
After an impressive win at home to Exeter City, the Reds went on to win against Tranmere Rovers, Salford City and Mansfield Town in successive games. Since then, performance levels have dropped off slightly, leaving us with a point from a possible nine against Walsall, Barrow and Port Vale. The Reds will be hungry to get some points back on the board tomorrow evening.
The Reds are winless against the Cumbrian side in our last fourteen meetings. Making Carlisle a bogey team of sorts. Our last meeting with the Blues earlier this season ended in a 0-3 defeat, when Carlisle were at the peak of their league form. Both centre-halves in Rhys Bennett and Aaron Hayden were goalscorers either side of the break as well as Ireland U21 international, Joshua Kayode, who has scored six in the league this season.
Our last trip to Carlisle came in August of 2019 on the opening day of the 2019/20 season in which Gabriele Cioffi was in charge. Harry McKirdy opened the scoring only six minutes into the
game but Bez Lubala scored his first for the Reds ten minutes later, with a well-taken strike from the left flank.
Stefan Scougall gave the Blues another lead just after the half-hour mark as Carlisle held on for an hour to claim three points. Lewis Young was shown red in the 97th minute as Crawley fought for the equaliser but it was not to be.
Our last win against Carlisle came in September of 2012 in League One, as goals from Nathan Byrne and Nicky Adams were enough to see off the home side. Since then, the Reds have failed to pick up three points against the Cumbrians.
Carlisle possess many different threats across the field, with talented players in each third that have played to a good standard under Chris Beech this season. Jonathan Mellish has netted thirteen times in all competitions this season, with eight coming in the league. Mellish plays in the midfield for Carlisle and has tallied a high number of goals for a non-striker.
As well as Mellish, Carlisle possess other attacking options; experienced pro Lewis Alessandra and Ireland U21 international, Joshua Kayode, are pacey in wide positions and have chipped in with goals and assists this season. Forward Omari Patrick, who played 15 minutes at The People’s Pension Stadium last time out, has also been in and out the side since the start of the season.
Reece Grego-Cox and Tom Dallison remain unavailable. Jordan Tunnicliffe and Tyler Frost are also out. Henry Burnett and Davide Rodari are doubts. Jake Hesketh has suffered a long-term injury and will be absent after returning to Southampton.
HOW THEY BET*
Carlisle United 11/10
Crawley Town 23/10
*Odds correct with EFL partners Sky Bet at the time of writing. Please gamble responsibly.
You can watch the match live on iFollow from 6:55 with commentary from Gary Smith and Ken Blackmore.
You can purchase a match pass for £10 by clicking here.