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Match Preview: U's vs Carlisle

27 October 2023

Samir Carruthers takes on Mike Jones of Carlisle during a 2020 clash at the Abbey
Club News

Match Preview: U's vs Carlisle

27 October 2023

Cambridge United are looking to build momentum by recapturing that winning feeling on Saturday afternoon as Carlisle United make the trip to the Abbey Stadium...

The U’s will look to use their positive home form of just one defeat in six to their advantage and use their midweek showing as the foundation to help gain their first win since early September against the Cumbrians, who make the pilgrimage hoping to register back-to-back victories for the first time this season.

How to Watch

Tickets for Saturday's game are selling well, with availability in the Buzz Catering Main Stand and NRE now limited.

Avoid the possibility of disappointment - buy your tickets online, over the phone on 01223 566500 (option 1) or by visiting the Abbey Stadium Ticket Office.

If you can't join us, UK-based supporters can listen to full match commentary on BBC Radio Cambridgeshire or iFollow, whilst international fans can stream the game live with an iFollow Match Pass.

Opposition Focus

Formed in 1904 at an annual general meeting, Carlisle United settled at their current home Brunton Park five years later and replaced Durham City in the Football League in 1928. Prosperity ensued within the decades, enjoying their most fruitful era in the mid-1970s as they spent a sole campaign in the First Division. The slide developed here and, bar a four-year yo-yo from 1994 to 1998, they were a Conference outfit as recently as 2004. Most recently, eight years in League One was followed by nine years in League Two, which came to an end in 2022/23 after club hero Paul Simpson guided the group to a play-off final win.

Under the tutelage of Simpson, the Blues deploy a 4-3-3, which covers the middle of the park well and allows their wingers to influence the game. Gentle giant, and dependable former loanee, Tomas Holy dons the sticks and awaits his first clean sheet, he’s protected by long-serving Jon Mellish and Scot Sam Lavelle, with flying full-backs Fin Back and Jack Armer either side. Owen Moxon is the star man from the middle, he was in the League Two Team of the  Season in his debut year after accumulating 21 goal involvements. Alongside him, Callum Guy and Daniel Butterworth. Blessed with experience in the frontline, Sean Maguire and Joe Garner have Championship experience, whilst Jordan Gibson is showing real form in front of goal and has bagged five this campaign.

The newcomers kick-started 2023/24 with a 1-1 tie against Fleetwood Town in front of a bumper home crowd, were downed 1-0 at Oxford United but responded with a creditable draw against Wigan Athletic. Back-to-back defeats, without reply, to Exeter City and Port Vale stretched the winless start to five games, however fortunes changed as they recorded five points from their next three, with the 2-0 success against Shrewsbury Town a memorable afternoon. Derby County and Wycombe Wanderers were next to take maximum points, but two impressive wins in their previous four – at promotion-chasing Bolton Wanderers and on home soil vs Burton Albion in midweek – boosts hopes of climbing from their current 20th position.

Form Guide

Cambridge United: LDLLD

Carlisle United: WLLLW

United’s Approach

The U’s could use their performance in the morale-boosting 0-0 midweek draw against Portsmouth as a springboard to cancel out their eight-game winless run.

A much more committed approach ensured it was a deserved share of the spoils for the hosts, whose aggressive press and setup out of possession was excellent to a man, whilst they caused many scares in the final third too and perhaps on another day could have stole the points after turning the tide during the latter stages with their threat on the break.

Thoroughly impressed with his team’s showing, Assistant Head Coach Barry Corr acknowledged: “That is what a Cambridge United performance looks like tonight and the players have to understand that. I think that’s what you’ll see as a baseline going forward.

“We had quite a good conversation, the staff and the players, and we spoke about what our performances need to look like and we can’t always control whether we win or lose, but we can control how much we commit ourselves to the game, defending out box and getting that clean sheet. That has to be the standard and everyone had to look after each other on the pitch.”

On the contrary, it was a major improvement from their outing at Cheltenham Town and is the exact spirit which will undoubtedly help break the duck sooner rather than later. The promising home form of just one defeat in six hands United a great chance to shoot up the league in front of their faithful, with the gap from 11th a mere three points.


Cambridge United Wins: 10

Carlisle United Wins: 10

Draws: 14

Down Memory Lane

The last time we met, United caused pandemonium in the living room for all of their followers as they snatched a last-gasp 1-2 victory at Brunton Park in March 2021 to send them to the top of the fourth tier.

The lockdown legends opened the scoring moments before the break when a counter-attack concluded with Paul Mullin attacking the Cumbrians’ penalty area from an angle, turning his man and smashing a convincing finish for a landmark goal – which moved him past David Crown’s club record for league strikes in a season. Lewis Alessandra capitalised on heavy pressure to level the scores on 78, but the visitors held their nerve and won it at the death after Wes Hoolahan showcased every ounce of class to square to Adam May in the box, who showed composure to claim a mammoth three points.

Analysing the result, Bonner said: “To be where we are at this stage is not supposed to be, but we play as though we’re enjoying it. We look like a team that’s having a bit of an adventure and loving it.”

Ranging back from 1977, the set of United’s have met on 34 occasions, with Cambridge securing the double during 2020/21. Prior to that, they had gone ten matches without registering a triumph, including the classic 4-4 draw in 2015 where Corr bagged a brace and Jabo Ibehre a hat-trick for Carlisle. As far as meetings in CB5 go, it’s one win in six for the U’s, with the last win in front of fans coming in the 5-0 thrashing during their first season back in the Football League.


Referee: Sam Purkiss

Assistant Referee: Scott Williams

Assistant Referee: Ryan Whitaker

Fourth Official: Leigh Crowhurst

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