It’s all still to play for in League Two and, whatever happens at Newport tonight, it will all be still up for grabs at the weekend, when Carlisle go to Yeovil hoping to steal that last play-off place.

The fact Carlisle are still in this position, still in with a bit of a chance but also a long shot in many ways, makes you doubly frustrated when you think of some of the chances they haven’t taken.

The Grimsby game on Easter Monday springs immediately to mind. That was a game United had to get something out of, should have done, but probably didn’t deserve to, and the fact they lost at Blundell Park was a real opportunity passed up.

It leaves them as outsiders to win this tight race now. It could end up being the game that costs Carlisle, which drives you mad when you consider how they played in beating Bury and Lincoln beforehand.

But while there is a chance, there is still hope, and the equation is simple for them this weekend. They have to go to Yeovil and win, and hope games involving Exeter, Newport, Colchester and Stevenage go their way.

The Glovers are a relegated side, in turmoil, and Carlisle need to end the season on a high, get that win and then see where it takes them.

I’m sure those in the dressing room are feeling similar emotions to the supporters when they look at what the final 90 minutes of the regular season could entail.

One or two players might go there thinking it’s a tall order to get that seventh place. A few others might be confident that they’ll do it. It will be a mixed bag of feelings, no doubt, but there is one thing they have to guard against above all else.

The worst thing would be to see all the other results go in their favour but Carlisle fail to get that victory against the worst team in the Football League.

That scenario has to be avoided at all costs, so we need to see one of the better last-day performances the team has produced over the years, such as the 5-0 win at Notts County in 2016, or the dramatic win at Exeter the following year which got them into the play-offs under Keith Curle.

If Carlisle do their job, at least they can say they gave it their best go over the final 90 minutes, regardless of how it pans out elsewhere and aside from how the season as a whole is analysed afterwards.

What to expect from opponents in Yeovil’s position? Their caretaker manager, Neale Marmon, and the club may have to do themselves a favour and play a few younger lads in their last game as an EFL club for who knows how long?

That would surely be better than sending out a load of players they know they will be releasing in a few days’ time. If you are a Yeovil supporter, or manager, you might see it as a better message to pick a mixture of those senior men you feel you can rely on in the National League next year, and others who are up and coming and have made a mark behind the first-team.

That would give the impression they know they have to adjust, and prioritise a side who are going to fight for the shirt the most.

Fielding all those who have got them relegated risks creating a poisonous atmosphere. From a Carlisle point of view I hope they do that, but I would be surprised.

These games can lead to strange outcomes. Sunderland nosedived out of the Championship last year but on the final day of the season they battered Wolves, who were champions. All Carlisle have to do is treat it professionally and make sure Yeovil don’t create any kind of positive send-off at the end of a poor season.

For United’s travelling supporters it is one more hike, after they started the season with a trek to Exeter. Credit to them for putting in so many miles again and hopefully they’ll see a better performance than they did at St James’ Park last August.

I feared for Carlisle that day. They were demolished in the first half-hour and it could have been a heavier defeat. The players, though, showed some resilience and the season got better as it went on.

We have been through a sticky patch over the last few months, and overall it has been a long season, featuring some great games – 6-0 against Oldham comes to mind – but also the frustration of letting a fantastic position slip.

There is a strong possibility Saturday will be the last appearance for the club for a number of players. It could be the end of something and the start of something else at Brunton Park.

It has been said they won’t be offering contracts until Carlisle know what division they would be playing in.

I’m sure, though, a number of the players will know by now if they have interest from other clubs, through their agents, and that might relax them a bit. One or two might also feel they have a sense of United’s intentions, even if it hasn’t been put across in black and white at this stage.

It is an uncertain time for many players but they are all good professionals. You can’t fault their attitude. Maybe technically, or fitness-wise, the team hasn’t quite reached the heights needed over the full campaign but I think, on the whole, as characters they all want to give their best.

That means those out of contract who might expect to be released, or who have already made their minds up to move on, will still give it a real go at Huish Park.


It’s the time of year when player of the year awards are being dished out and to my mind there is a clear top three when it comes to Carlisle United in 2018/19.

My first pick would be Jamie Devitt.

You can’t argue with the midfielder's stats. When he’s been in the team, he has often been the difference with his goals, chance-creation and ability to turn a game.

Carlisle always miss him when he is unavailable and he also comes across as someone with a really good attitude.

I saw a good photo of him the other week when Jones scored the winner against Lincoln. Devitt was on his feet, next to manager Steven Pressley, celebrating.

You could see how much it mattered and how much he wants this team to succeed.

Second for me would be Adam Collin. The keeper has gone from strength to strength this season and even on Saturday he showed his importance with that late save from Crawley’s Reece Grego-Cox.

At 4-2, that was a big moment. It kept Carlisle’s two-goal cushion and avoided a much nervier finish to the game. It summed up how Collin has produced the goods throughout 2018/19.

Thirdly, I’d also mention Hallam Hope. If you look at his stats you’d think he will be in the sights of one or two other clubs.

He frustrates supporters at times, but one thing you have to say about the forward is he’s rarely injured, never seems to give the manager any grief, is always ready and available, shows good fitness levels in his ability to get up and down, and his goalscoring record is better than anyone else’s at Carlisle this year.

Take him out of the team and suddenly it looks a lot lighter on the goals front, and I feel Hope deserves credit for his campaign overall in a United shirt.