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Club News

Match Preview: Carlisle United vs U's

16 February 2024

Club News

Match Preview: Carlisle United vs U's

16 February 2024

Cambridge United embark on their longest journey of the Sky Bet League One season this weekend as they take on basement side Carlisle United at Brunton Park...

The U’s approach the match off the back of consecutive defeats, so will target Saturday afternoon as an important fixture to help get them back on track and rediscover a winning formula. As for the Cumbrians, it’s been a tricky first campaign back in the third tier – they’re situated at the bottom of the table with a 12-point gap from safety following six successive defeats.

How to Watch

Approximately 400 U’s fans have already committed to making the mammoth trip to Cumbria, with proceedings starting at 3pm.

Those who wish to join them can purchase their tickets on the day of the game, but please note that prices will rise by £3.

If you can't make it to the game, supporters in the UK can listen to live commentary on BBC Radio Cambridgeshire whilst overseas fans can stream the match live.

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. The task of maintaining themselves as a steady third tier outfit requires a mammoth effort, with consistency a must for the newcomers.

Simpson has crafted a versatile setup, where formation fluctuates depending on their opponent. Opting for a more compact midfield of late, they could retain their 4-5-1 system. Harry Lewis, January signing from Bradford City, awaits his first clean sheet, the shot stopper is likely to have Sam Lavelle and Ben Barclay ahead of him, with energetic full-backs Fin Back and Jack Armer either side. Utility midfielders Josh Vela and Harrison Neil are recent additions and are forming an understanding with consistent mainstay Jon Mellish, who’s notched well over 200 appearances for the Cumbrians. Jack Diamond is a promising winger, whereas Jordan Gibson is proving to be a livewire, his creativity and front-footed displays has seen him bulge the onion bag seven times. Together, they form to assist former Harrogate Town striker Luke Armstrong, who has the physicality to bully opposing defenders. Elsewhere, Daniel Butterworth and the experienced Sean Maguire offer a different dimension – the whole squad will be needed in the run-in.

With safety their sole aim heading into the 2023/24 campaign, early signs showed this could be achievable as they developed a hard-to-beat approach, taking a point from Fleetwood Town and Wigan Athletic in their opening three. In spite of that, they had to wait until their sixth match to record a first victory, coming in a comfortable 2-0 success against Shrewsbury Town, which sparked an unbeaten streak of three. A pleasing start to October saw Simpson’s group secure a last-gasp draw against Peterborough United before a Gibson hat-trick secured a memorable 1-3 triumph at promotion-chasing Bolton Wanderers, but since losing the reverse fixture to the U’s at the end of the month they’ve occupied a relegation spot – which worsened as they endured a nine-match winless run. A late New Year’s Day success against Port Vale raised hopes, but Carlisle have since lost six on the bounce, compiling a daunting period of the sole victory from 16. Situated rock bottom, a 12-point deficit needs to be bridged, with home form potentially being vital.

Form Guide

Carlisle United: LLLLL

Cambridge United: DDWLL

United’s Approach

Despite a valiant effort, the U’s succumbed to back-to-back League One defeats on Tuesday evening as table-topping Portsmouth came from behind to grab a 3-1 victory at Fratton Park.

Acquitting themselves extremely well, the visitors took the game to the Blues and deservedly roared to the lead via Danny Andrew’s well-taken header. Pompey responded well to this, levelling matters almost immediately through Kusini Yengi’s penalty, but United continued to frustrate the crowd as they returned from the break in the ascendency. Ultimately, the hosts’ prowess proved too strong as Myles Peart-Harris concluded a counter before Abu Kamara made sure of the points with a long-range stunner.

Reflecting on the defeat, Neil Harris said: “I’m not satisfied with just the performance, but it was a strong performance, I’m disappointed with the result obviously, but it’s something to build on, certainly.

“I asked the players for a reaction from Saturday’s (Cheltenham) disappointing performance and result, and I certainly got a reaction, so I’m pleased with the group for that.”

The U’s sit 17th ahead of a schedule which sees them take on current promotion chasers in all four of their following encounters. Focusing just on the weekend, it’s a great time to capitalise on the Cumbrians’ recent slide and extend their current gap of four points from the drop.


Carlisle United Wins: 10

Cambridge United Wins: 11

Draws: 14

Down Memory Lane

The last meeting back in late October saw Cambridge discover that winning feeling as they worked hard for a well-deserved 1-0 victory over nine-man Carlisle at the Cledara Abbey.

United grew as the game progressed and earned the breakthrough mid-way during the second half thanks to George Thomas’ astute header. Red cards for Jack Armer and Alfie McCalmont late in the afternoon helped ensure a comfortable route to three points for the hosts, who cancelled out their eight-game winless run.

Thanks to a dominant 12-match unbeaten streak between 1998 to 2017, United just about edge the head-to-head between the outfits. Currently occupying three successive triumphs, their only defeat from the previous six came in February 2020 in what was their last football match before the season was terminated owing to the Coronavirus outbreak.

On that day, Lewis Alessandra and Nick Anderton found the back of the net for the visitors, whereas Reggie Lambe could only deliver a consolation. The U’s lined up as follows: Burton, Knoyle, Taylor, Darling, Dunk, Maris, Carruthers, Davies, El Mizouni, Adeboyejo, Mullin.


Referee: Scott Jackson

Assistant Referee: Johnathon Bickerdike

Assistant Referee: Richard Woodward

Fourth Official: Andrew Miller

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