AFTER the glamour of a League Cup tie against Premier League Tottenham Hotspur in midweek, Carlisle United shift their attention back to League One matters this weekend, writes JAMES HUNTER.
The Blues entertain Crawley Town this afternoon, four days after bowing out of the Capital One Cup with a 3-0 third-round defeat against Spurs at Brunton Park.
And Carlisle boss Greg Abbott is hoping that his side can pick up their league form where they left off last weekend.
Abbott’s men won 2-1 at Coventry City last Saturday to extend their unbeaten run to four games, which sees them go into today’s game tenth in the table and just a single point behind Richie Barker’s eighth-placed Crawley.
“It’s back to the important business of picking up points at the weekend and we’re looking to build on the work we’ve done over the last few weeks,” said Abbott.
“We’ve played some good stuff and we’ve worked hard recently and we’ll have to do the same again against Crawley.
“They’ve had a similar start to ourselves and they can be a very good side on their day. They have a good work ethic, which you’d expect from one of Richie Barker’s sides, and they have some quality as well.
“If you set the Spurs result to one side we are on a decent run and we obviously want to keep that going. Nothing is easy at this level but we know we have a group who can push things on for us.”
Abbott felt the Spurs scoreline was a little harsh on his team but he hopes his players’ efforts – in front of a bumper crowd of almost 13,000 – will bring in some extra fans this afternoon.
“We’re happy with the energy and commitment,” he said. “In the end they made it hard for us and we possibly feel hard done by with it being a 3-0 result.
“We go away with another good experience under our belts though and that is invaluable for the younger players. They will hopefully look at it and aspire to get more of the same.
“It was an evening for everyone to come out and enjoy themselves. We get back to the important business of league football now and we have to keep our focus on that.
“It was great to see the ground so full. Hopefully a few of them liked what they saw and they’ll come back to support us again. We need everyone to help us have a real go at this thing and a noisy atmosphere makes this a difficult place to come to.
“If we can get anywhere near the levels of noise we saw in midweek then that will be no bad thing at all.”
Carlisle will have on-loan Watford striker Joe Garner back in the squad after he was cup-tied for the Tottenham game. Long-term absentees Lee Miller (ankle) and Rory Loy (broken leg) are still not ready to return.
Crawley midfielder Sergio Torres could start for the first time in over a month after missing six matches through injury.
And Michael Jones will return to the squad having been cup-tied for Crawley’s Capital One Cup defeat at the hands of Swansea City on Tuesday. “Carlisle are always going to be a top eight, top ten side. Greg Abbott has done a fantastic job there,” said Barker, whose team have only won one of their last four league games and lost 5-2 at home to Tranmere last weekend.
“They are very well organised, they play the game the right way and they’ve got some good players, so they are always going to be there or thereabouts.
“They are one of the teams that very rarely drop in the bottom half – they’re very rarely in the top two or three, but they are very consistent.
“I know exactly how they will be playing and I know they’re tough to beat up at their place.”