You can tell it must be almost Christmas as the games start to come thick and fast; two home fixtures in the space of a week too. After opening the gates to Scunthorpe United in midweek, now we have Carlisle United calling in. Our hope, if it wasn’t too much to ask for this time last week, was for two tasty wins; six points that’d give us a lovely pre-Christmas bump. It’s a nice way for new boss Paul Tisdale to get his League Two eye back in too after starting in the cups.
But it didn’t quite work out that way.
The best we can hope for now is four. And even that seems like a stretch after Tuesday’s show.
Stevenage v Carlisle United
Lamex Stadium, Stevenage — 11 December 2021 — Sky Bet League Two
Can we get some festive cheer at the expense of the Cumbrians? Our recent history suggests it could well be possible. If you ignore a 3-0 defeat at theirs on 12 December 2020 (364 days ago) and our 3-2 home reverse on 19 September 2019, it’s not been a bad time for us. Four wins in the last seven encounters means the head-to-head gap is not as wide as it once was. But we’re still trailing their 10 wins with only eight of our own. Can we close that gap even more?
Across the 2017-8 and 2018-9 seasons, Boro’ didn’t even concede a goal to Carlisle United. Our goalless draw on 20 January 2018 was the only time in that period that we didn’t come out on top. But it’s certainly rare for us to enjoy such dominance. A 2-0 away victory on 26 September 2017 ended a run in which we won once in 10 meetings. And that was a 1-0 home victory on 25 April 2015 that confirmed our place in the 2014-5 League Two playoffs. Oh, what days…
Early promise swiftly extinguished
Our tale goes all the way back to 2005 when the Cumbrians dropped out of the Football League. A snowy, freezing 22 February 2005 night at Brunton Park had us making the long trip north for the first time. And those who travelled were well rewarded; Boro’ registering a 2-1 win thanks to a Darryn Stamp brace. It was a result we’d repeat just a couple of weeks later; George Boyd and Jon Brady with the goals in a 2-1 home win on 05 March 2005.
Our paths would cross once more that season too; ourselves and Carlisle last two standing after the Nationwide Conference playoffs. With two wins under our belt, we had every reason to think we could finally get to the Football League. But a first half Peter Murphy goal was the difference at the Britannia on 14 May 2005; the Cumbrians returning back up at the first time of asking and Boro’ left waiting for another five years for destiny to finally take over.
Catching up with old, er, friends?
The next time we’d meet would be 24 September 2011 at Brunton Park; two divisions higher as we caught up with them in League One. Some things didn’t change, however. Peter Murphy was again the difference as the Cumbrians edged us out by a single goal. A small slice of revenge did come our way in the return fixture, to be fair. John Mousinho came on as sub on 17 April 2012 – scoring the goal that secured the points and kept us on track for the playoffs.
And then we went on that rubbish run against them. But we’ve already covered that, so…