Pompey v Carlisle: The Insider

Carlisle boss Keith Curle Picture: James Williamson

Carlisle boss Keith Curle Picture: James Williamson

Paul Cook was all smiles at the final whistle against Morecambe in August 2015, after Pompey came back from 3-0 down to draw 3-3 Picture: Joe Pepler

Cook: We’d fallen 3-0 behind. It felt like I was a goner!

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Carlisle will be going into the Portsmouth game with confidence after a big win over Bristol Rovers.

There was a run of five draws in six going into the match, and it was becoming slightly hard work in terms of breaking teams down.

They have been tough to beat and the draws back that up, but they sorely needed to get a win.

So do that against a flying Bristol Rovers, who’d won six on the spin, was a big boost.

It was also the manner of the victory. They played some really good football at times.

It was going back to the way they played earlier in the season when they were knocking it about and very good to watch.

That entertaining style was quite refreshing and the goal coming quite late made it more dramatic as well.

Bristol Rovers are a good side and you can see why they are up there, and Carlisle were a bit fragile at the back, to be honest.

But they showed a bit of character and got there – and that keeps it interesting in terms of the play-offs.

They are four points off and if they’d lost on Monday you would have thought it’d be too much for them.

If they can get a result at Portsmouth, they play Hartlepool on Tuesday in their game in hand.

If they were to take four or even six points from that, they’d be back in it again.

There’s no doubt it was a timely win. It certainly keeps them alive for the play-offs after those draws.

These games are going to be key now, even if we have been saying that for a few weeks now!

They are still in with what is probably an outside chance of making the top seven.

If they get to the other side of Hartlepool in the same place you’d probably say it’d be too much for them. If they are closer you’d probably say it’d be anyone’s game.

Carlisle have six loan players, so that means one of those has to miss out, with five men allowed in the match-day squad.

On Monday, that man was Hallam Hope, who has actually been a regular.

Keith Curle likes to keep people guessing so it’s not impossible he could come straight back in. But the way they played without him does make it a little unlikely.

Hope’s looked quite good at times but hasn’t played centre-forward that often, which is what he’s supposed to be.

Jabo Ibehre started the season brilliantly and has 15 goals to his name, but is struggling to get a goal at the minute. Charlie Wyke has 13 and was favoured on Monday, but it’s not impossible Ibehre could come back in. He can cause havoc.

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