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Monday, 01 September 2014

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Carlisle Utd can be part of promotion race - Abbott

Greg Abbott today insisted resurgent Carlisle United can make a late charge into the play-off race.

Lee Miller  photo
Lee Miller

The Blues manager says his team, who are in their best form of the season, can now tee up a “really exciting” end of the campaign.

After the 2-1 victory over Stevenage - Carlisle’s third win in four games - Abbott predicted a surge into the top eight – and “even higher”.

Although the Blues remain 16th in League One they can start climbing into mid-table if they continue their fine recent form with wins against Scunthorpe and Portsmouth this week. Abbott said: “We are in better shape than we were in five or six weeks ago.

“Another couple of wins and we can start thinking about finishing in the top eight or nine.

“In fact, let’s set our targets even higher than that.

“If we go on another run like this, another eight games with 16 points, we’re looking at a really exciting second half of the season.

“Let’s keep it going and see where we can go.”

The latest Brunton Park victory came against 10-man Boro after Rory Loy’s early header and a Lee Miller penalty.

Stevenage boss Gary Smith had complaints about both goals, with the assistant referee appearing to raise his flag in the build-up to Loy’s header.

Smith also made the bizarre and inaccurate claim that the ball was out of play when red-carded keeper Steve Arnold fouled Loy in the box for the penalty.

Abbott said ref Nigel Miller had “no choice” but to dismiss Arnold, though he conceded there was some confusion about the opener. The United boss said: “I only saw the goal but Kav [Graham Kavanagh] saw the flag and said it was offside. But I couldn’t say whether it was a good decision or not.

“I only saw a great goal from our point of view.

“I don’t think anybody can begrudge Rory. Three weeks ago he was in a bad place. We never get stuck into Rory because he beats himself up.

“He’s had a really, really tough year with injury and other things so we’re absolutely delighted for him.”

Miller’s spot-kick was his first goal of 2013, while the Cumbrians hit the woodwork three times.

United are three points and goal difference behind 15th-placed Crawley but can make further inroads if they can deliver a third straight league win at Scunthorpe tomorrow for the first time in Abbott’s reign.

“Some of the attacking was shoddy, some of it sensational,” the Blues boss added.

“But at this stage of the season our plight is about winning football matches and we have beaten a very good side who make life difficult for you on their travels. We looked a lot better defensively than we have been.

“Now I want to finish the season really powerfully.

“I know that we're not man-for-man the best team in the league by a country mile, and nor are Tranmere, but they have built up this terrific unity, confidence and momentum.

“We are just getting that creeping in. I could tell before the game the players expected to perform and get a result.

“There was an aura and a confidence to think we are on a good run, we can get something today.”

United’s youth team swept aside Shrewsbury 5-0 to reach the semi-finals of the Youth Alliance Cup. Goals from Alex Salmon (two), Tom Berwick, Jack Lynch and Kyle Dempsey set up a last-four clash at home to Fleetwood for Eric Kinder’s Under-18s next weekend.

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