A dead rubber? A dying rubber? A rubber on life support? A rubber that has ceased to be?

Pretty much. Only the extravagantly optimistic will see anything serious riding on Carlisle United's trip to Leyton Orient today.

In terms of this season, the Blues need a massive win, followed by another, as well as heavy defeats for the teams above them to make the play-offs.

I know. It's not going to happen. And it's definitely not going to happen for Orient, who are a point further back and out of mathematical range.

So it's a case of trying to finish the season with a little pride, maybe trying one or two things, but not much else.

Excited? Good. Let's delve into the details.


Defender Rhys Bennett and Rod McDonald are United's main injury concerns.

Bennett limped off in the 22nd minute of Tuesday's draw at Cheltenham, while McDonald remains out with a dead leg.

That could further limit Chris Beech's centre-half options for Carlisle's final away game of 2020/21.

United's boss played three men in the middle of defence in a switch to 3-5-2 in Gloucestershire.

After Bennett's premature departure, that trio became Jack Armer, Nick Anderton and Aaron Hayden, with George Tanner switching from right to left, and Danny Devine stepping in on the right.

It remains to be seen whether Beech will give that system another go, or revert to a back four in the capital.

Morgan Feeney, who made his long-awaited first appearance in Wednesday's reserve final at Bournemouth, could be another option at the back, but it seems unlikely he'll be rushed into the first team after just 60 minutes of action following his broken foot recovery.

Beech has spoken of finishing the campaign as well as pssible, which might rule out wholesale experimentation at the Breyer Group Stadium.

If he does tweak things, though, his options include Ethan Walker - who has looked bright off the bench in United's last two games - as well as Cedwyn Scott, Taylor Charters, Omari Patrick, Gime Toure and Devine.

United's boss must also decide whether to give Magnus Norman another outing in goal after his midweek recall, or restore Paul Farman to the side.

Dean Furman missed out at Cheltenham through injury, while Brennan Dickenson remains sidelined for the Cumbrians.

Orient player-boss Jobi McAnuff has welcomed winger Louis Dennis back into the side recently after an injury-hit run.

But midfielder Hector Kyprianou is a doubt after going off against Southend last weekend with mild concussion.

McAnuff himself has been a substitute in recent weeks, the 39-year-old's last start coming at Harrogate on April 13.


Neither of these sides are in formidable winning form, it's fair to say.

Carlisle have no victories in six, while the Os have one win in the same period.

Five of those half-dozen Blues games have been draws, while Orient have lost three in the equivalent spell.

McAnuff's side fell out of the play-off race with back-to-back defeats to Cambridge and Southend, with Carlisle's draw at Cheltenham on Tuesday also effectively ruling them out of contention.

At home, 11th-placed Orient have won nine, drawn seven and lost six. Their top scorer, Danny Johnson, has 20 goals in all competitions.

Carlisle are seeking only a sixth away win from their 23 games on the road.


The bookies fancy Chris Beech's side for this one.

United are 11/8 favourites for the win with Bet365 and Sky Bet, and 6/4 with SBK.

An Orient victory is priced at 2/1 with Betfair and Bet Victor and 21/10 with Bet365.

Another Blues draw is 11/5 with 888Sport.

Danny Johnson is 7/2 favourite to get the first goal, with Carlisle's Lewis Alessandra 5/1.

Callum Guy is 25/1 to open the scoring with his first United goal.

(source: Oddschecker)


It's a traditional Saturday 3pm start in east London.

iFollow is the only way fans can watch the game, with matches continuing to be played behind closed doors because of Covid-19.

The News & Star will be reporting from the Jonny-Rocks Stadium, and BBC Radio Cumbria will provide commentary.

In a difference to the usual coverage, though, there will be no social media coverage by either the News & Star or Carlisle United.

Our normal live blog and post-match coverage will still be here on the N&S website and in the paper, but we will not be active on Twitter or Facebook as we are taking part in the football-wide social media boycott which is making a stand against online abuse, which started at 3pm yesterday and runs until 11.59pm on Monday.

The Blues are doing the same and will be covering the game on their official website and posting interviews on their YouTube channel, but not putting anything on social media in the same period. 


Sam Allison is the man in the middle for this one.

He has encountered United once before - earlier this season, in the 3-1 defeat at Morecambe.

The ref showed three yellow cards that day.

Allison stepped up to the Football League this season as the first black referee in the EFL since Uriah Rennie.

He encountered Orient in their National League days, including a 0-0 home draw with Boreham Wood in 2018 when two home players were booked.


It was a miserable 1-0 home defeat for United when Orient came to Brunton Park in March to play a fixture which had been postponed three times previously.

Conor Wilkinson's late lob earned the points for McAnuff's men.

The last meeting at Orient's ground was in October 2019, when Jack Iredale's goal earned a 1-1 draw for Steven Pressley's Carlisle.

United's last win there came in February 2017, when Gary Liddle and Jamie Proctor scored in a 2-1 win under Keith Curle, debutant Proctor later being sent off.

Orient's last home win over the Blues came in 2014, a 4-0 thrashing of Graham Kavanagh's visitors.

Overall, United have won 22 of their meetings home and away, Orient 21, with 14 draws.

Here's some footage from YouTube of an encounter at Brisbane Road back in 1997. It was a defeat for Mervyn Day's promotion-chasers - but featured a young Tony Hopper's first goal for Carlisle.