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Friday, 24 October 2014

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Carlisle Utd boss still eyeing play-offs despite defeat at Sheff Weds

Defiant Carlisle United boss Greg Abbott today insisted there can still be more dramatic twists in the play-off race and said: We’re not dead yet.

Greg Abbott photo
Greg Abbott and assistant Graham Kavanagh

Carlisle’s top-six hopes are now hanging in the balance with the Blues now three points outside the top six with two games to go, plus a massive goal difference disadvantage.

But Abbott says the picture could yet change in the Cumbrians’ favour despite Sheffield Wednesday’s last-gasp goal inflicting a third straight defeat on his team.

Michail Antonio’s 95th-minute winner, which gave the Owls a 2-1 victory, means sixth-placed Stevenage need one win from their two remaining games to knock Carlisle out of the running.

But the Hertfordshire side next week go to second-placed Sheffield United, while Carlisle host second-bottom Exeter.

Abbott said: “If we win two games, then you never know.

“There will be twists and turns. You didn’t expect Notts County to get beat on Saturday but they did.

“Sheffield United got beat and you didn’t expect that. In the Premier League Wigan recently beat a small club called Manchester United.

“It happens to us all. We will come back in brightly this week and carry on.”

Abbott saluted his team’s “togetherness” which almost earned them a brave point after surviving waves of heavy pressure from Dave Jones’ side at Hillsborough.

James Berrett’s 10th goal of the season cancelled out Chris Lines’ opener but Reading loanee Antonio – who tormented Carlisle in the 2010 JPT final whilst with Southampton – had the final say.

“The players defended for their lives with proper spirit and proper togetherness,” Abbott – who saw Matty Robson make his first appearance for three months as a half-time sub for Peter Murphy – said. “In terms of overall quality Sheffield Wednesday had the edge and that’s what got us in the end.

“I am so disappointed for the group, but there is optimism for the future and if we don’t quite make it this year then we have to build again and make it next year.”

Carlisle had been given a pre-match boost by former Blues loan striker Mike Grella, whose two goals helped Bury to a 4-2 win at Notts County.

n Carlisle will face Coventry, Portsmouth and Swindon in League One next season if the Blues fail to go up through the play-offs.

The Sky Blues and Pompey had their relegations from the Championship confirmed on Saturday, joining Doncaster in the drop to League One.

And Paolo Di Canio’s Swindon secured promotion from League Two.

jcolman@cnmedia.co.uk

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