After yet another home defeat, off-field matters have been dominant with news that the Trust Board have expressed their concern at current results as well as a restructuring of off-field resources. It’s perhaps some relief therefore that City have a couple of away games in quick succession, although the first of these is a lengthy trip up the M5/M6 to a club that finally tasted league defeat for the first time last weekend. Aside from the home form what’s perhaps more frustrating is that City have actually won as many games this season as Crewe, who sit in the playoff places, so it really does begin to be a case of “what might have been” if the odd-goal defeats at home had even been draws. City’s injury woes continue with the news that Troy Archibald-Henville is back on the sidelines, while Ethan Ampadu is unlikely to make the trip having been away during the week on international duty. Luke Croll and Jordan Moore-Taylor could be poised to return, however, while Troy Brown is back in the reckoning.
When the bookies were dishing out the odds for League Two promotion, they probably didn’t have Carlisle at the forefront of their thoughts, but Keith Curle, who has enjoyed something of a chequered career in management so far, has moulded his side into one that is very difficult to beat. Indeed until a surprise 2-0 reverse at bottom club Newport last week the Cumbrians had gone unbeaten (bar a penalty shootout defeat to Derby in the EFL Cup), something which led to Curle being awarded October’s Manager of the Month award. That defeat to Newport ended a run of eight straight wins in all competitions, so Carlisle will hope to get straight back on track against another side in the drop zone. Unlike City, Carlisle have been able to keep their small-ish squad fit, with five players having started every league match and another only having missed one. The chief goal threat has come from Jason Kennedy with eight, while Jabo Ibehre is always a handful and has seven. Former City youth product Mark Ellis will hope to feature although he hasn’t played all that many games so far this campaign.
City often enjoy a decent record against Carlisle, but last season saw the Grecians only take one point from this fixture. The corresponding match last season finished 1-0 to the hosts (loanee Alex Gilliead capped a fine display with the winner), while the return saw a 2-2 draw (Stockley and Wheeler goals each cancelled out by Wyke and Hope) overshadowed by a lengthy delay after a Carlisle supporter let off a smoke canister which caused a fire alert. City enjoy a league head to head lead with 22 wins to Carlisle’s 17 (15 draws).