Preview: Carlisle United

Where We Are

Following Saturday’s postponement we are fairly similar to where we were at the weekend. The players must be kicking their heels having to wait 9 days now to try and put the defeat and performance against Notts County to rest. The new loan players, Petrasso and Akpom, will be frustrated to have missed a chance of making their debuts but now have had extra time to bed into the squad with both apparently impressing in training.

On the plus side it gives the team extra time to rest and recuperate in what would have been a congested fixture schedule with two tough home games back to back. It also means that the club will miss fewer games without Callum Wilson in the side which can only be good. On the downside it means that Petrasso, who looks to be a great signing, will have fewer games over his 28 day loan spell to play in. Additionally it will add to a fixture pile-up that we’ll have to face in the coming months which could make our push the play-offs even more difficult than it already was.

The team news is that we could be without both Nathan Delfouneso and Blair Adams for tomorrow night’s encounter with Carlisle United. You’d imagine that Chuba Akpom would be handed his first start in place of Delfouneso, with the latter having failed to impress in his first two appearances for the club.  Blair Adams is a much tougher player to replace, not only due to his impact in the team but also for the sheer lack of cover in his position. It seems likely that Ryan Haynes, who’s always looked decent in the highlights of reserve games, will be handed another chance to impress but there’s also the possibility of Jordan Clarke being rotated into the left-back slot, something that’s never gone that well in the past.

Last Time We Met

Having just beaten Bristol City in our first home game of the season we travelled to Brunton Park quietly optimistic of putting some momentum together. I say ‘quietly’ because prior to last August we had been beaten twice in the league by former Coventry youngster Greg Abbott’s Carlisle side. In the event it was an emphatic victory for a Coventry side that was flexing its muscles in the early weeks of the season. Goals from Franck Moussa and an in-form Billy Daniels were sandwiched between a brace from Leon Clarke (remember him?) as the Sky Blues ran out comfortable victors.

How Are They Doing?

For Greg Abbott heavy defeats at home soon became a pattern as his reasonably successful tenure at Carlisle petered out. Abbott, now assistant manager at Notts County, was replaced by his former assistant Graham Kavanagh. The former Stoke and Cardiff midfielder took to management like a duck to water and initially steered the Cumbrians away from the relegation spots. However at the turn of November the team’s formed dipped quite dramatically with Kavanagh struggling to motivate a revival.

The trend since then has been an ever-rotating cavalcade of loan signings and short-term transfers. There have been the successes like Tom Lawrence, from Man United, who scored a wonder-goal on his debut and eventually found his way to Championship Yeovil. There have been under-achievers like Craig Roddan who is now at Accrington in League Two. There has been some bizarre ones like Pascal Chimbonda being signed from non-league Market Drayton. Some have been signed and failed to even appear for the first team like Dean Bouzanis.

It’s been a scatter-gun approach by Kavanagh who is clearly struggling to use his limited budget and produce results. At times it has given his team the element of surprise over sides expecting an easy ride against one of the pre-season relegation favourites.  Mostly though it has produced confusion and uncertainty within his own ranks and that has seen them slide towards the relegation zone.

The dangerman for Carlisle tomorrow night will be former Liverpool youngster David Amoo. Having struggled to make an impact at Graham Westley’s Preston team, Amoo has found a home at Brunton Park and his pace will make him a threat to our defence, particularly if played up against Ryan Haynes. In addition Lee Miller has slowly been rediscovering the touch which once made him the division’s most lethal strikers, another player who should be ignored at peril.


Carlisle are a difficult team to fully judge. One week they’re comfortably beating teams, the other they’re struggling to muster a shot on goal. Given that they’ve bee allowed a week to as a team to do stuff like learn each other’s names and train as a team they could be a threat tomorrow night. Whilst our own loan signing of Mike Petrasso is exciting, a proven performer at this level, the prospect of playing Ryan Haynes and an unknown quantity in the form of Chuba Akpom is concerning.

Should tomorrow night’s game go ahead I predict a narrow 2-1 victory.

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