Carlisle United v Stevenage [Preview]

By Pete H

After last week’s awful goalless draw against Southend, Boro’s reward is to be banished as far north as League Two will allow. It is pure coincidence, we’ll have you know, that we just happen to be down to drop in on Carlisle United at the same time. We can at least kill two birds with one stone, then. And maybe the long trek up to the Scottish frontier will give us time to dwell on a couple of important things.

First, how can we fail to land a shot on target against the worst side in the division. On our own patch. It might make people think that *we* are actually the worst team in the division. Second, it was a huge missed opportunity to climb up the table. OK, so we inched out of the bottom two on goal difference courtesy of that point. But we’re talking about the dizzying heights of 18th or 19th. The gateway to mid-table mediocrity.

But, no.

There seems to be a thing that our league position must be a number starting with a “2”.

The Details: Carlisle United v Stevenage

Where’s the game?

Brunton Park is this week’s destination.

Can I watch Carlisle United v Stevenage?

For the Blues, they’ll have the backing of their fans inside the stadium. But not 18,000, or whatever it can hold. So, that’s some consolation for the Boro’ lads. We’ll have to make do with knowing that someone, somewhere will be seeing this happen on iFollow. The match pass is still yours for a tenner if you’ve nothing better to do.

How are Boro’ shaping up…?

Look at our list of results and you’ll see that we’re now unbeaten in four. It might be worth making more of the fact if a) one of those wasn’t a one-off FA Cup game against a side from a higher division and b) one was against the side currently adrift at the foot of the Football League. If you can believe it, however, we’ve drawn the last three away days and that’s not totally unreasonable.

The draws – Walsall, Morecambe and Harrogate – make up three of the five points we’ve taken on the road. You have to go back to January, and our 4-0 win at Cambridge, for our most recent away win. That’s a quite long wait in our book. And it ain’t a wait that our form right now would suggest is about to end. Getting goals is the ongoing issue – but it’s been that way for some time. Is there a switch that we can flick in front of goal?

… and how are the Blues doing right now?

Boro’ climbed out of the League Two relegation places with a little help from the Blues. It was the Blues’ 1-0 win at Bradford that sent the Bantams below us. For them? It sent the Cumbrians up to fourth and looking good as the season starts to take shape. Part of that is down to their strong record indoors; taking 18 points from a possible 21. The only team stopping that being a perfect record is second-place Cheltenham, who won 2-1 there.

It’s easy to see why the Blues have such a good home record. No team has yet kept their sheet clean at Brunton Park so far this season. But there is a small glimmer of hope, you might say. Carlisle have let in at least one goal in most of their home matches – including each of the last five. Most will look at this stat at face value and see a chance. This Boro’ team? We don’t score or create enough to look like we might take advantage here.

Our story with Carlisle United so far

It’s a mixed bag and one that’s marked by ups and downs – especially on our visits up to Cumbria. Our first trip saw us win 2-1 in the snow during the 2004-5 season; a campaign that saw us do the league double over them and then lose in the Conference playoff final. More recently, our record at their place is much improved. We’re unbeaten in three at Brunton Park; winning the last two. But September 2018 now feels a looong time ago.

In 20 meetings, we’ve won seven to their nine – with four draws completing the set.

Last Time Out: Stevenage 2-3 Carlisle United, 14 September 2019

Who’s the referee in charge?

Robert Lewis.

Now, we didn’t clock the name (why would we?) – so we assumed that we got ourselves yet another newbie in the middle. We were wrong. Our story with Mr Lewis goes quite a way back. And that story starts in February 2005 with our 2-1 win at… Carlisle.

Same again please, Mr Lewis.

The first five times that Mr Lewis took charge of us came away from the homestead. After promotion to the Football League, the next four were all indoors. Odd how it works, yeah? Overall, therefore, it’s nine matches under the watch of this ref; four of which have gone in our favour and two that ended in defeat. He’s as good an omen as we could want if we need one. It’s six unbeaten under his control. Long may that run continue.

Mr Lewis is now coming into his 14th appointment of term. In the 13 that went before us and the Blues, he’s doled out 34 yellow cards and one red card; Sunderland finishing with 10 men as they lost at home to Portsmouth in League One nearly two months ago.

Last Meeting: Stevenage 3-1 Newport County, 07 January 2017

Carlisle United v Stevenage: Our verdict?

Our hopes are small; Carlisle is far away. Small. Far away. 2-0 home win.