It has been another tough week for Carlisle United in their faltering League Two play-off bid. But there is still hope with the Blues three points outside the top seven and, where there is hope, we must keep going.

Swindon are 10th, a point and a place behind the Cumbrians, but with a game in hand while 11th-placed Newport have two matches in hand on Carlisle. You have to say they are both right in the race for sixth and seventh which, realistically, are the two play-off spots up for grabs.

United’s opponents this weekend, Bury, were in great form until recently. But they have lost 3-1 to Swindon and 3-0 to Cambridge in their last two fixtures. Hopefully, the Cumbrians can take confidence from their downturn in form and we can start well, and get an early goal.

But what other sides are doing doesn’t really matter until Carlisle pick up results themselves. Saturday’s 3-0 loss at Tranmere was another frustrating one which means tomorrow’s home clash against Ryan Lowe’s Shakers is quite close to being last-chance saloon in the Blues’ promotion prospects. 

I felt David MacLachlan, one of the News & Star Blues views panel, summed it up quite well this week when he said signing Mark Cullen was a bit of a gamble which hasn’t paid off yet.

But with the way signings are done nowadays, there are so many different people involved, it’s not just down to who the manager wants. When I made moves when I was a player, I used to meet with the manager and the chairman of the club I was going to sign for. Now, all the criticism is still thrown at the manager but there are a lot more people involved in the whole process around transfers.

Playmaker Nicky Adams will make his first return to Brunton Park since his two-season spell with the club came to an end last summer. I was always a big fan of Adams. He was unlucky with the cruciate knee ligament injury he suffered in 2017, but he has bounced back from that well at Bury. He always makes something happen.

As I said when Jabo Ibehre came back to Cumbria with Cambridge a few weeks ago, players always want to do well against their old clubs.

Workington Reds have also endured a tough week, losing 4-2 at home to Nantwich on Saturday and then going down 1-0 at the hands of Mickleover Sports at Borough Park on Tuesday. Those losses leave them four points off safety in the Evo-Stik Northern Premier League table, ahead of tomorrow’s trip to Witton.

Indeed, for Cumbria as a county, it was a bad day of footballing results on the whole last Saturday with Carlisle City losing 5-1 on the day and 9-3 on aggregate in their Hallmark Security League First Division Cup semi-final tie to Sandbach United.

Let’s hope there are some better results for, not just Carlisle, but clubs around the county this weekend.

At Wembley, Maryport’s Glenn Murray will also aim to get in on the act as Brighton play giants Manchester City in tomorrow evening’s FA Cup semi-final tie. That would be quite something to celebrate if he can knock the winner in for Chris Hughton’s men.

Sunday’s other semi-final will see Wolves and Watford go head-to-head, and they have both had good seasons, so that will be a good match, too, I think.