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Sunday, 23 November 2014

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Carlisle Utd face trip to Stevenage on first day of new league season

Carlisle United will launch their League One campaign with a trip to old rivals Stevenage – the side who pipped them to the play-offs last season.

Carlisle United badge

The game at the Lamex Stadium, where the Blues’ promotion hopes hit the skids in April, will be the first league test for Greg Abbott’s side in 2012/13.

The August 18 fixture will see United’s fans embark on a 570-mile round trip as the Blues launch their latest bid for glory.

Gary Smith’s Stevenage, who Carlisle famously defeated in the 2005 Conference play-off final, got revenge last term when their 1-0 win gave them the upper hand in the race for sixth place.

They eventually lost in the play-off semi-finals to Sheffield United and Blues captain Paul Thirlwell today said it will be a tough early test of Carlisle’s mettle.

“Stevenage proved last year what they are all about – we found out for ourselves how hard they worked and how fit they were,” said the skipper.

“They got into the play-offs and it will be a really difficult game but it gives us a great chance to put a good marker down for the season.

“You would ideally prefer to start with a home game but maybe it’s better to go to Stevenage early rather than on a cold Tuesday night later in the season.”

Brunton Park’s first league game of term will be against Tranmere on Tuesday, August 21, while United will face five of League One’s seven newcomers by the end of September – including two fallen giants. Crisis club Portsmouth will visit Brunton Park on August 25, while Blues fans go to Coventry’s Ricoh Arena for the first time on September 22.

Promoted sides Swindon, Crawley and Crewe will also face the Cumbrians in September.

The festive calendar is kind to the Blues with two successive home games. There is a Boxing Day clash against Hartlepool, three days before Bury visit Brunton Park. Carlisle then go to Crewe on January 1.

United’s first trip to Portsmouth’s Fratton Park since 1985 will take place on February 16, while the clashes against fierce rivals Preston are on Tuesday, November 6 at Deepdale, and Saturday, April 13 at Carlisle.

Easter weekend sees a home clash with promoted Shrewsbury and a trip to Sheffield United – while if Abbott’s side are going for glory on the final day of the season they will have to overcome their old boss John Ward, whose Colchester side provide the final opponents of 2012/13 at Brunton Park.

Go here for a full list of fixtures

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