The home side have little to play for. The visitors certainly do. Will this count for anything on Saturday? Not in the slightest.
All-in-all, this season has been a disappointment for Carlisle United. They flirted with the play-off places for much of the second-half of the season but ultimately fell at the final hurdle.
Where can we lay the blame for this disappointment? The December floods? The manager? The players? Indeed, do we really need to apportion any blame for the supposed failures of a side which look set to actually finish the season in the top half of the League Two table?
Were Carlisle United battling against the drop we could well understand the frustrations, however the season hasn’t been an unmitigated disaster by any means, just a disappointment. Perhaps that is worse.
Nevertheless, let’s look forward to the last home game of the season. When the pressure was on, the Cumbrians struggled. When the pressure was lifted following the side’s failure to reach the play-offs, they won.
This could well prove to be the case on Saturday afternoon when promotion-hopefuls Oxford United make the long journey north to Brunton Park.
The ‘U’s have been inconsistent over the past few weeks with two wins, two defeats and a draw from their previous five games. Their last outing resulted in a 2-0 win at the Kassam Stadium and a second consecutive victory this weekend would further cement their top-three position.
Indeed, the visitors are far-from-assured a top-three finish as things stand with fourth-placed Bristol Rovers sitting a single point behind Oxford and six points left to play for.
As such, a win at Brunton Park would secure automatic promotion for the visitors and going on recent form one would expect the three points to be heading back down the M6 this weekend.
If only it were that simple. Oxford have suffered defeats to Luton Town, Barnsley and Leyton Orient in recent weeks and we feel that they will stumble against a Carlisle United side who will be under no pressure whatsoever.
We’ll be stopping short of predicting a victory for the Cumbrians on Saturday, given that the home side have been inconsistent this season. We will back the hosts to avoid defeat on Saturday however with Bet365 going 21/20 for Carlisle-Draw on the Double Chance market, perhaps leaving Oxford’s promotion hopes very much on hold until the last game of the season.
Article by Andy Bell