With the regular season over, City are in that rare position of their season extending hopefully to the end of May, and face another two matches against the side who beat them on the final day. Paul Tisdale has been typically coy about his selection for Sunday’s match, but there are hints that one or two of those who have been returning from injury may feature – Craig Woodman, now seemingly recovered from his broken arm, the obvious choice. Lee Holmes too may push for a start, while Tisdale could consider whether to give Pierce Sweeney or Jack Stacey the right back slot.
Carlisle in the end limped over the line thanks to successive victories (including last week’s somewhat controversial win at the Park), having been frontrunners for automatic promotion for a large chunk of the season after a long unbeaten start to the campaign.
It seemed the loss of top scorer Charlie Wyke to Bradford during the January window had an impact as for a long time the Cumbrians struggled to find the net, the return to fitness and form of midfielder Nicky Adams appearing to have stemmed the tide late on to ensure Carlisle’s place in the playoffs – from seven successive games without scoring they scored in each of their final seven matches. Experienced striker Jabo Ibehre will also be one to watch, having netted 14 times this season.
Both regular season matches saw City twice pegged back before going down 3-2 – last week the City goals were scored by Reuben Reid and Jordan Moore-Taylor, with two Danny Grainger penalties and a Jamie Proctor strike giving the visitors the points. The match at Brunton Park was arguably a catalyst for City’s recovery – leading twice through Reid and Lee Holmes, it was Wyke with a brace and Shaun Miller with the Carlisle goals. City have the head to head lead with 22 wins to Carlisle’s 19 (15 draws) but are without a win in the last four meetings between the sides.
Referee: David Webb
Assistant Referee: Richard Wild and Bob Roberts
Fourth Official Robert Jones