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Thursday, 23 October 2014

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Abbott rallying cry as Carlisle Utd play-off bid goes down to last day

Carlisle United manager Greg Abbott today declared his side will go for broke at Oldham after a day of drama kept the Blues’ play-off hopes alive.

Carlisle Utd photo
Liam Noble celebrates his goal

The race for sixth place now comes down to the final game of the season, when United must win at Boundary Park to stand any chance of glory.

Carlisle, 4-1 winners against Exeter, looked to be heading out of the race when Stevenage led 2-0 at Sheffield United.

But a late fightback by the Blades, who equalised in the 85th minute through Matt Lowton, meant Carlisle can still overhaul sixth-placed Boro on the season's last afternoon.

In order to end the campaign in sixth place, Abbott’s side must win this weekend and hope both Stevenage and seventh-placed Notts County draw or lose against Bury and Colchester respectively.

And Abbott is likely to retain the attacking line-up he picked for Saturday’s game, which saw Francois Zoko (two), Jordan Cook and Liam Noble account for the doomed Grecians in front of a 6,029 crowd.

“It wouldn’t have taken a brain surgeon to work that we were going to play attacking football,” said the Blues boss.

“And we know what we have to do now. We only have to focus on our game and win it. If it’s not good enough, we can’t do much more.”

On an afternoon when United’s fans paid tribute to grieving Lee Miller and his three sons after the tragic death of the striker’s wife, Donna, Abbott later watched on TV as Stevenage threatened to blast Carlisle out of the race in Saturday’s late kick-off.

A win at Bramall Lane would have made them uncatchable due to their superior goal difference and Danny Wilson’s side trailed 2-0 until the 63rd minute.

But their fightback gave United’s fans hope, after Notts County – who scored twice in the last minute for a remarkable 4-3 win at Wycombe – had earlier dealt Carlisle’s ambitions a blow.

Abbott – who picked Andy Welsh, JP McGovern and Matty Robson in an attack-minded line-up on Saturday – said his players had earned their final shot at ending the season in style.

“They really are a good group, full of honest people and types like that give you a fighting chance,” he said. “And we’ll go to the last game of the season with a chance to get in the play-offs.

“We hope there is one more twist left. Look at our resources in the league table and we’ll be down in 16th or 17th. But we’re going to end up sixth or seventh, which is a fantastic achievement.”

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