Date: 31st December 2019 at 7:30pm
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Tomorrow afternoon sees Carlisle United arrive at the Alexandra Stadium with the Cumbrians sitting in 19th place. They have former Alex loanee Harry McKirdy in their squad.

So far this season, they have beaten Crawley Town, Scunthorpe United, Stevenage, Oldham Athletic, Macclesfield Town and Walsall, they have drawn with Salford City, Forest Green Rovers, Leyton Orient, Cambridge United, Morecambe, Grimsby Town and Bradford City while they have lost against Swindon Town, Mansfield Town, Cheltenham Town, Exeter City, Bradford, Newport County, us Plymouth Argyle, Northampton Town, Port Vale and Colchester United.

In cups, they were knocked out of the EFL Cup by Rochdale in Round 2 following a 3-0 win over Barnsley in Round 1 while they will play at Cardiff in the FA Cup 3rd Round on Saturday after beating Dulwich Hamlet and Forest Green (the latter after a replay). In the EFL Trophy, they finished bottom of their group after beating Blackpool but losing games against Wolverhampton Wanderers Under-21s and Morecambe.

Over the summer, Carlisle have signed 15 players over the summer, 10 of which are permanent signings and 5 season-long loans while letting 14 leave the club permanently. Arriving at the club are defenders Christie Elliott, Jack Iredale, Jon Mellish, Byron Webster, Nathaniel Knight-Percival, Aaron Hayden, Gethin Jones and Canice Carroll (loan), midfielders Jack Bridge and Mohammed Ali Sagaf and forwards Nathan Thomas, Olufela Olomola, Ryan Loft, Elias Sorensen (all loans) and former Alex loanee Harry McKirdy.

Looking back in the archives, the two teams have met 93 times with Carlisle leading the head-to-head with 42 wins to 37 with 14 draws. Carlisle’s biggest win came last season at the Alexandra Stadium as they won 5-0 whilst the Alex’s biggest win came in January 1939 with a 7-1 victory at the Alexandra Stadium. The Alex have won the last 2 meetings between the two sides by 2 goals to 1 at the Alexandra Stadium last season before a 4-2 victory earlier in the season at Brunton Park.

Who are the officials for the game?

The officials for this game see John Busby as the man in the middle where he is assisted by Gareth Mellor and David Plowright with Ravel Cheosiaua being the fourth official. Here are the Crewe games that have been refereed by Busby in the previous 5 years:

  • Wycombe Wanderers 5-1 Crewe Alexandra (27th September 2016) – Cooper
  • Portsmouth 0-1 Crewe Alexandra (4th March 2017) – Ray
  • Eastleigh 1-1 Crewe Alexandra (FA Cup, 30th November 2019) – og

I asked Carlisle supporter Kyle Sproat for his thoughts on the game and the season so far.

How would you describe your season since the last meeting?

Quite poor, bar a league cup victory at Barnsley (Editor Note: We’d like one of those on Sunday!), but there’s been little to celebrate. The majority predicted a struggle with our director of football’s 1-year transfer strategy and Stephen Pressley. However, few predicted the extent as to how much we’d struggle – most predicted 14-18th region.

In one word poor, we’ve struggled, can’t put the ball in the net and struggle to keep clean sheets which is a recipe for disaster. Some promising cup results (into the 3rd round beating FGR) but if I’m correct it’s one win in 12 in the league. A positive for many was that Pressley went, he’d outstayed his welcome and the time was right.

Which area of the squad is the one that needs strengthening the most in the January window?

Midfield. We had Jack Sowerby until last Jan, many thought at the time it was the forwards we lost which prevented playoffs last season, however, the majority are appreciating how a quality centre of midfield can run games at this level. Few CF’s wouldn’t go amiss either.

What do you think the team will be?

Anyone’s guess, Beech hasn’t picked the same 11 yet. On the basis we got a point on Boxing Day:
Collin
Hayden, Webster, Branthwaite, G. Jones
Carroll
M. Jones, Sagaf
Scougall
Thomas, Hope

Who is the Carlisle danger man?

Nathan Thomas – word for Scougall though thought he had his best game coming off the bench against you earlier in season.

What is your target for the rest of the season?

To stay up and hopefully have the club sold.