Carlisle v Pompey: The Opposition View

Carlisle News & Star reporter Jon Colman previews today's game.

Saturday, 25th February 2017, 9:00 am
Updated Thursday, 7th June 2018, 6:10 pm
Carlisle goalkeeper Mark Gillespie

This game is being viewed as a proper six-pointer.

If Carlisle win this one there’s no doubt it’s a big step closer to promotion.

It’s a real crunch match and everyone’s hoping it will live up to the build-up, even if that’s not always the case.

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Keith Curle has said a couple of times this season he’d hope for bigger gates.

Well, 7,300 is the biggest gate of the season so far and there’s a hope that figure could be matched.

There’s a lot of expectation surrounding the match so it wouldn’t be a surprise to see that number threatened.

There’s a lot riding on the game, the team has picked up and there are some new faces. So there’s a few reasons for the fans to turn out in their numbers.

On top of that, there’s a former player, Tony Hopper, who’s been diagnosed with motor neurone disease.

He’s going to be the guest of honour at the game and his boys are going to be mascots. I think a lot of people will want to show their support for him.

January was a terrible month is terms of form, but things have picked up going into the game. What’s changed has been the impact of the new signings.

Charlie Wyke was lost on deadline day but Keith Curle brought in a couple of new faces. There’s a young lad, George Waring, and Jamie Proctor. There’s been a fair amount of wages used on Proctor, with him being a number nine coming down from a higher level.

Mike Jones has come back from injury in midfield, too, and he’s been a big miss.

He’s brought a fair bit of knowhow with him.

Gary Liddle has been a decent addition at the back and been very versatile, too.

When Carlisle were struggling in January they were just missing those key men a little bit. But in the last couple of games they just got their abilities back a bit – winning at Wycombe and beating Doncaster at home.

Portsmouth fans will remember Mark Gillespie from earlier in the season.

He’s been pretty steady, but it hasn’t been the kind of performances we saw at Fratton Park from him every week.

That display on the opening day was quite something. It was like the Alamo!

He’s been offered a new contract and there’s been some debate about how far he can go.

But Carlisle haven’t kept a clean sheet since October, which is quite remarkable, and he hasn’t escaped criticism entirely.

It’s a good, big pitch at Brunton Park but since losing heavily to Blackpool the other week Curle has been more combative. It might be they go with that approach against Portsmouth.