The Opposition View: Carlisle United

By Jim Bonner
Last updated : 20 November 2015

What's your assessment of Carlisle's season so far?

Very strange, but also satisfying at the same time. We have, until last Saturday, been playing one of the most ridiculous, open and nut-job style I think I've ever seen at League Two level which has some frustrations but for fans at least it's not boring.

We play this ridiculous over-the-top passing game at the back, our goal-kicks get played backwards half of the time all to sucker opposition to attack, but we keep 4 men forward nearly all the time. We then get ball forward quickly and throw six or seven men in about the box in a high-risk approach to score which either creates a chance or leads to us only having two back to defend an attack.

It means lots of goals, lots of chances and a lot of frustration also. We may be doing better but for flogging it sometimes with our style, but after five years of awful one-up-front stuff we are getting our money's worth this season.

Who are the key players in the Cumbrians' squad?

Jabo Ibhere on his game is the best striker in League Two this season whether he scores or not and has been an enormous miss the last month but he is back to fitness for this game.

Jason Kennedy and Gary Dicker are vital for our midfield both can on their game be better than League Two and link our team up and also while the guy is a horrendous defender at left back I personally think Danny Grainger is vital to our team as he's our best crosser of the ball and means we take dangerous corners and is vital when you chuck four or five men in box and need a ball which makes them numbers worthwhile.

What are the main strengths and weaknesses of this Carlisle side?

Very easy, this one. Our main strengths are certainly going forward. When we are on our game and get 4-5-6 sometimes 7 men about the opposition box in attacks it makes us a hard side to defend against just down to numbers pushing forward. Corners are dangerous and we have the best striker in the league. We are not afraid to risk a goal by taking a gamble so it can make us tough to contain, it also means usually when one or two goals down we still have an ability to get back in game.

In contrast; we cannot defend. We make numerous stupid errors by passing about our box with only three or four players about the area and can leave massive gaps at the back.

What do you make of the current Portsmouth squad?

It is a very strong squad, easily the best in the league, but I know from lower league experience that it is usually extremely tough for the best team to win the league in either League One, League Two or Conference. I remember Leicester and Norwich did it and Wolves recently and remember Luton in Conference doing it but other than that normally the bigger clubs rarely get the title.

You have to scrape through to promotion here in 2nd or 3rd so I do not expect you to win title but you'd surely take promotion regardless. I think you just have to suffer 'raised games' each week that other clubs don't.

What kind of match can we expect at Brunton Park?

Game in my view will depend on what team we have out and that could dictate the game more than Portsmouth will. We could play 3-4-3, 4-3-3, 4-4-2, 3-5-2, 5-3-2 etc but it usually changes depending on who is available, who is fit, what manager does and no one knows until 2pm.

We could risk it and keep just two men back and go all out at you or sit back and counter but again, nobody knows. If both sides are on form I expect both to score at least two and it's then who scores more after that, wins.

Given Pompey's current recent form, will you be expecting a win on Saturday?

Again, it depends on the team. When on our game we beat Plymouth away easily without them having a shot and we also beat Orient when they were flying. But when off our game we lost to Newport (who couldn't win) and lost to Bristol Rovers easily last week who couldn't win at home. We have a strong eleven but weak back-up.

Predict the outcome of the game.

I expect we'll have most of our team back this week (we only had four first-eleven players available last week and had six reserves) and that could make a difference. I expect us to score two goals, I expect you to score two goals... whoever gets three or more will win, I expect.

Portsmouth Match Reports

Sky Bet League One Sat 18th November 15:00

Portsmouth 1 - 0 Southend United

Last game - Match Centre


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