It looks like a tall order - but it isn't without precedent.

Carlisle United's chances of reaching the League Two play-offs now hinge on them taking a large haul of points from their remaining four games.

In all likelihood, it will take four victories to give Chris Beech's side a realistic chance of reviving their dwindling hopes.

The Blues are five points adrift of the top seven ahead of games against Harrogate, Cheltenham, Leyton Orient and Walsall.

Can it be done?

The bookies might not think so - United are as long as 25/1 for promotion now, and 10/1 to make the play-offs - and most fans are probably struggling to stay optimistic.

So if we are looking for reasons to cling onto some belief, maybe we need to dip into Brunton Park history.

And the place to go is the run-in of the 1993/4 season, when Carlisle came flying up the rails to sneak into the play-offs at the very last.

After a mediocre first half of the season, Mick Wadsworth's side hit much better form after the turn of the year.

They still, though, needed a final surge to stand any chance of creeping into the top seven of a fourth tier that was then known as Division Three.

Yet they did just that with a sensational run which brought some of the more memorable United victories of that era.

It helped that three of their last four games that April and May were at Brunton Park. All the same - the momentum Wadsworth's team generated was impressive.

Their win-or-bust run started with the visit of lowly Wigan Athletic on April 23.

That brought a confident Blues performance and three unanswered first-half goals from Rod Thomas, Ian Arnold and that season's record signing David Reeves.

After that routine victory, Carlisle ventured to Deepdale to face Preston North End on their plastic pitch.

The Lancashire outfit were themselves firmly in the play-off running, but found themselves on the end of a superb, opportunist United away display.

Reeves snaffled the opener before the in-form Arnold tucked away two in the second half in a game which also saw a home red card, some feisty exchanges on and off the field, and a highly boisterous travelling Cumbrian contingent.

After back-to-back 3-0 wins, the fixture list got harder for Wadsworth's Cumbrians, since it was table-topping Shrewsbury up next at Brunton Park.

Yet that midweek encounter brought yet another stirring United performance, as a free-kick rocket from Simon Davey was followed by another cracking finish by that man Arnold.

Carlisle held on for a 2-1 win which meant they had put together three successive victories for the first time in the league season at just the right stage.

It took them into a must-win final-day meeting with Colchester, from the bottom half of the table, in front of a 9,305 crowd.

And United's irresistible late-season form came to the boil once more on a jubilant Brunton Park afternoon.

The expectation on the terraces was met with an efficient Blues display, as they took the lead through an own-goal from future Republic of Ireland star Mark Kinsella in front of a Waterworks End that contained delighted home fans, some of whom spilled onto the pitch in celebration.

Paul Conway wrapped up the win in the second half, and the 2-0 victory - and United's 12-point haul from their last four outings - meant they finished seventh, with two points to spare over chasing Chesterfield.

The pitch invasion at the end of the game confirmed a sense that overdue good times were returning to Brunton Park after a number of barren fourth-tier seasons, as supporters saluted the barnstorming finale served up by Wadsworth's team.

They went on to the play-offs for the first time in Blues history, but fell short in the semi-final against Wycombe, who won 2-0 at Brunton Park and then wrapped up aggregate victory with a 2-1 win at Adams Park, the Chairboys going on to beat Preston in the Wembley final.

Carlisle had to wait until the following term to go up themselves, but their formidable start to the 1994/5 campaign could surely in some way be traced to their feel-good finish of the season before.

So, even if they don't make it this time, there is much that can still be gained by ending in style - and the feat of Wadsworth's men should remind the current era that, even with four games to go and lots of ground to make up, it's never too late to make a charge while the sums can still add up.

Over, then, to Beech's boys...