City are still winless since mid-January, but will have taken heart from a more solid display at York last week as they make another long trek north to a side in trouble at the foot of the table – indeed all of City’s remaining away fixtures are against sides deep in the thick of either the promotion or relegation scraps. Craig Woodman’s recent poor form saw him ditched from the side at York, and Jamie McAllister earned praise from Paul Tisdale for his display, ensuring he may have booked his place in the starting line-up for the run-in. David Noble remains sidelined, and Matt Oakley missed the last game but his injury isn’t thought to be as severe as Noble’s, while James Hamon’s clean sheet on his return will, like with McAllister, have probably strengthened his grip on the keeper’s jersey.
Carlisle boosted their chances of avoiding relegation with a 1-0 win over Cheltenham on Tuesday night, a win that lifted the Cumbrians out of the relegation zone and dumped their opponents back in it, while also ending a 4-match losing streak. Keith Curle’s side simply doesn’t do draws – their last league draw was back in September in an 8-goal thriller with AFC Wimbledon. One player hoping to take the field will be Troy Archibald-Henville, who was something of a cult hero during his time with City. However, having played the last two fixtures in the past week, the gangly centre-back may not be risked as he has to nurse his problematic knees and three games in a week may be a step too far. City will have to be on their guard to stop Middlesbrough loanee Charlie Wyke, who has bagged five goals in eight appearances and has already scored against City this season in Hartlepool’s 2-1 win at the Park.
The reverse fixture saw City comfortably ease to a 2-0 victory with goals from Scot Bennett and Matt Grimes. The last time City made the trip to Brunton Park they left with a sour taste in their mouth, a 4-1 reverse in April 2012 which confirmed the end of City’s three season stay in League One. Francois Zoko gave Carlisle the lead, Liam Sercombe immediately equalised only for Jordan Cook, Liam Noble and Zoko again to complete a trouncing. City do, however, have the lead in league head to heads with 21 wins to Carlisle’s 16 (14 draws).
Marcus Stewart penalty in 2009