Preston North End return from their tour of Scotland to face Carlisle United at Brunton Park tonight.
Carlisle United have had more than their fair share of ups and downs over the years, last season being no exception. The Cumbrians looked to be in real danger of slipping down into the Conference although they enjoyed a late-season surge and finished a relatively creditable 20th in the final League Two table.
Will the forthcoming campaign see success for United? The fans are certainly upbeat about the season ahead and manager Keith Curle has certainly been no slouch in the summer transfer market. Indeed, his new arrivals will be given a chance to shine when they face Preston North End at Brunton Park this evening.
There is much rivalry between these two sides, however in recent years their respective fortunes have followed completely different paths and the Lancashire side now sit in the Championship following promotion from League One at the end of last season.
Carlisle United meanwhile suffered relegation from League One at the end of the 2013/14 season and can consider themselves lucky not to have slipped down another level last season. Graham Kavanagh gave way to Keith Curle as manager mid-way through the campaign and the new boss succeeded in his aim of keeping the Blues in the Football League.
United have been involved in four pre-season friendlies so far, however their latest outing to League One side Bradford City ended in a 2-0 defeat for the Cumbrians and they will have a tough assignment against Preston tonight.
It could be argued that pre-season friendlies have limited appeal and the results have little relevance, however a large home crowd is expected and Curle’s new arrivals will be determined to prove their worth ahead of what promises to be a tough season ahead.
Carlisle United are far from favourites to manage promotion at the end of the new season although the mood at Brunton Park is one of optimism, surprising perhaps given their poor results last season. Indeed, a win at Brunton Park tonight against North End would perhaps boost the team’s confidence ahead of their opening league match at Mansfield in a fortnight and more importantly may even encourage some of the long-absent fans to return to what has become a rather empty Brunton Park.