Leading up to the match at Leyton Orient, there was a lot of stick being aimed at Carlisle United’s players, manager Steven Pressley and the board. So, to be honest, I travelled down to east London not particularly looking forward to watching the game.

On BBC Radio Cumbria, we had a fresh pair of eyes watching the Blues and commentating on the match with us in the form of England C goalkeeper coach Mick Payne on Saturday.

I thought it was a disjointed first-half performance by United, and Mick backed up my views at half-time. I thought, tactically, we didn’t get to grips with Carl Fletcher’s side.

There was a lack of leaders in Carlisle’s team, a lack of communication and a lack of spirit.

Fair play to Blues boss Pressley who said in his interview after the match that he didn’t think the players were good enough in the first period. And at half-time, he made a couple of tactical tweaks, and it was a completely game in the second half.

In the first period, Orient were well on top, and probably played better than you would expect a team who are 16th in League Two to play, but we also let them do what they wanted, and we were fortunate to not be 2-0 or 3-0 down at the break.

But, in League Two, you ride your luck.

I said before the game I thought we would take something from the encounter. At half-time, I said The O’s won’t play that well after the restart, and Carlisle won’t play as poorly as they did in the first period.

Jack Iredale then netted early in the second half and, from then on, I thought United were the better team.

Overall, a draw was probably a fair result because of how dominant Leyton Orient were in the first half, but the Cumbrians can certainly be pleased with the point that they earned.

As Pressley has said, though, let’s not get carried away.

It’s a point, but he will be well aware that he and the team need to pick up more results.

But it’s a starting point for the side. For the players, mentally, it will have been important to stop the run of four successive league losses, as well.

After the way things went in the first half, the players were probably thinking “We are up against it, here”. But the lads have to take confidence from fighting back to earn a point.

A few individuals made a difference in the second half.

Olufela Olomola came on and made a massive difference. Nathaniel Knight-Percival impressed, as well. He will probably come into the team to face Macclesfield, with Byron Webster serving a suspension.

Going forward, left-back Iredale showed he is very, very comfortable doing that side of the game. But I still think there is a lot he can work on defensively, but Pressley knows that.

I think the 23-year-old has struggled defensively ever since he linked up with the Blues in the summer, but there has always been something there in his game, going forwards. To be fair to him, he has always been a wing-back. He is a work in progress, and that’s what it seems like the Carlisle team is at the moment.

I would agree with those who say the players are still playing for Pressley. But even if they weren’t, they should have some professional pride. The majority of the lads are on one-year contracts.

You never really know how things can pan out in football. For those who had a good game against Leyton Orient, you never know, their manager, Fletcher, could remember them and try to sign them next season.

Together, the whole squad does need to get it right because, at the minute, I have never known Blues fans to be quite as negative as they seem to be now.

Even though they got the point, and we were trying to focus on the positives, the supporters still seemed to be disappointed on Saturday evening. To be fair to them, one point from United’s last five league matches isn’t good enough.

But, hopefully, the point earned at the Breyer Group Stadium was a starting point and the Cumbrians can start to turn things around from now.

United now have a midweek without a fixture, and the management need to make sure they can do some coaching with the players this week.

For me, the midfield is still weak. I think Mike Jones has to do a lot of the necessary work, but you can’t blame Jack Bridge because, tactically with the way they were set up in the first half, he had to go out and help Gethin Jones out against left-back Joe Widdowson who kept bombing on for Leyton Orient.

This Saturday’s fixture at home to Macclesfield Town, who are 15th in the table, now becomes massively important.

The Blues need to win. A lot of fans need winning back over, and you can only do that by winning games.

Looking at the financial situation the Silkmen are in, there can be no arguments about which side has the bigger budget. Macclesfield are in disarray. They did brilliantly to stay up last season and they have done extremely well to be in the position they are in this term.

But Carlisle have the better squad and are at home, so nothing other than three points will suffice. Everyone in United’s dressing room should be confident they are capable of beating Macclesfield, and we do need to beat Macclesfield.


Carlisle United’s youth team will travel to Salford City for an FA Youth Cup first-round tie tomorrow evening.

The Blues have shown they are prepared to bring youngsters through over the last couple of seasons, selling two young stars, winger Liam McCarron and Josh Galloway, to Championship team Leeds United this summer.

I have to tip my hat to former Carlisle Academy manager Darren Edmondson, who I thought did a fantastic job, before the Cumbrian left the Brunton Park club in early June.

The likes of McCarron, Galloway and Taylor Charters are boys he has helped to develop at Brunton Park.

If the current crop of youth-team players do well in this season’s FA Youth Cup under current Academy manager Eric Kinder, then I’m sure they will be given the opportunity to progress through the ranks into United’s first-team, as well.

If the first-team are struggling, then there is always going to be that opportunity for young players to come into the first-team set-up if they can impress.

For myself, I signed for Sunderland, instead of joining Newcastle United, Arsenal or Rangers because I felt I had a good chance of getting into the first-team team.

But low and behold, after I had signed to join the Black Cats, they got some big backing and got into the Premier League.

You usually find players get the chance to progress from the youth team into the first-team set-up, with clubs who are struggling or who don’t have much money.

If you look at midfielder Brad Potts, who came through the youth ranks at Carlisle, he is now 25 and has made plenty of first-team appearances, currently playing for high-flying Preston North End, who are second in the Championship league table, and you have to give credit for the way in which he has managed to keep progressing throughout his career so far