CARLISLE United take on Colchester United today in the first of two road trips in the space of four days which could have a major bearing on the Cumbrians’ play-off campaign.
United’s goalless draw at Preston North End in midweek saw them leapfrog Stevenage and Notts County to go sixth and move into a play-off place.
But Carlisle boss Greg Abbott knows the importance of their next two games, which sees today’s visit to the Weston Homes Community Stadium followed by a trip to stadium:mk to meet MK Dons on Tuesday.
John Ward’s Colchester are ninth in the table, six points behind Carlisle having played a game more, but have not yet given up on forcing their way into the play-off picture, while the MK Dons are fifth and are keen to consolidate their own play-off place. “March was always going to be an important month for us and by-and-large the results have been good for us so far,” said Abbott.
“The consistency in results through most of the year has kept us in touch and we’ve got ourselves into the top six on merit. It’s a tough few days coming up for everyone with two long trips, one after the other, but it’s nothing we haven’t done before.
“We know that if we go into April relatively unscathed then we will have put ourselves into a really good position. There are plenty of teams around us who want to be where we are right now and we have to remember that we have achieved nothing yet.
“With the way the season has gone we would all be really disappointed not to finish in a play-off place, so it comes down to what we do in the next ten games. Today will be really tough. John [Ward] has got his side well organised and they are a hard team to beat.
“They’ve had a similar run to us since the turn of the year, they’ve only lost a few games, and they are one of the teams who are snapping right at our heels. It’s a situation where, if we win, we’ll open a little bit of gap on them.
“If they win they will pull closer to the top spots and I’m sure they will come at us and try to stop us from playing our game.
“We’re at the stage of the season where it is all about results and you get the added edge to go with that. We need the points for the same reasons as Colchester in many ways because we both want to keep the excitement going.
“This weekend is a really big ask of our supporters but we know they’ll be there. We can’t guarantee results or performances but the one thing we do know, beyond doubt, is that we will have a healthy and noisy following behind us.
“Hopefully we will come away from Colchester and MK Dons having given them plenty to smile about.”
Carlisle have no new injury problems, but Jordan Cook could come into Abbott’s thinking this afternoon after the Sunderland striker rejoined the Cumbrians on loan this week.