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League Two | Gameweek 26
Jan 18, 2022 at 7.45pm UK
Brunton Park

0 - 0

Gibson (89')

Odusina (51')

Preview: Carlisle United vs. Hartlepool United - prediction, team news, lineups

:Headline: Preview: Carlisle United vs. Hartlepool United - prediction, team news, lineups:
Sports Mole previews Tuesday's League Two clash between Carlisle United and Hartlepool United, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.
Sports Mole

A pair of League Two sides going in opposite directions will renew their rivalry on Tuesday at Brunton Park, as Carlisle United play host to Hartlepool United.

The Cumbrians extended their unbeaten run in the league to four consecutive fixtures with a last-gasp equaliser in a 1-1 draw with Crawley Town on Saturday, while the team from County Durham are now winless in four successive domestic affairs, succumbing late in their weekend match with Bristol Rovers.

Match preview

A few minor tweaks have drastically changed the fortunes of Carlisle, who ended 2021 with a 2-0 win over Stevenage and have carried that momentum into the New Year, picking up seven out of a possible nine points in the league so far in 2022.

Before their current run, this team had been struggling with consistency, with only one win in 14 league games before defeating The Boro last month.

Not only have they stopped the bleeding domestically with their current form, but The Blues have also shown a lot more quality in the final third, scoring in every one of their matches on their current run, which is an encouraging sign seeing as they have been shut out of 11 league encounters so far this season and scored the second-fewest goals in the league (19).

Even though the results have gone their way recently, manager Keith Millen cautioned his team to focus on what is ahead and not bask in the glory of their prior results, and it seems as though his players failed to heed that warning over the weekend, with their 55-year-old boss saying that he was disappointed with their quality versus Crawley Town.

Millen admitted that Carlisle were poor on Saturday, but he did praise the team on their effort to keep pushing for that equaliser, which eventually fell their way in the 93rd minute, moving them seven points clear of the relegation line.

Playing a more wide-open style does not seem to suit this team, who lacked precision in their passing last weekend when operating with a more direct brand of football, as they gave the ball away far too often versus The Reds, clicking at an accuracy of only 67% in that department, and they were forced to commit several fouls (17) as a result.

The lack of quality is evident at Hartlepool right now as their poor form in front of goal cost them again this past weekend, having failed to find the back of the net now in three of their previous four league fixtures.

Manager Graeme Lee has seen his team play well and create their share of scoring opportunities, however, it seems as though the confidence of their front men for whatever reason has been shaken in recent weeks.

When you are struggling like they are at the moment, you have to find positives wherever you can, and although the results have not been there of late, there are some encouraging signs that they could get out of their current slump.

Hartlepool controlled the tempo of their match with Bristol Rovers, creating many scoring opportunities while doing a great job of frustrating the home side and taking the crowd out of the game early on.

While they have held their own through long stretches of their matches away from home, it appears as though fatigue sets in for them late into an away fixture, conceding twice to The Gas beyond the 85th minute of play and having now allowed a goal in the 90th minute or later in three of their last four league games on the road.

Lee has encouraged his side to keep playing the way they did over the weekend, saying that he believes the results will come if the players can control the pace of a game on a regular basis.

In their first match of this campaign versus Carlisle, Hartlepool struggled technically, with a pass accuracy of only 62%, but they put away their chances, firing three shots on target and winning 2-1.

Carlisle United League Two form:
  • W
  • L
  • W
  • W
  • W
  • D

Carlisle United form (all competitions):
  • L
  • W
  • W
  • L
  • W
  • D

Hartlepool United League Two form:
  • L
  • W
  • D
  • L
  • D
  • L

Hartlepool United form (all competitions):
  • D
  • L
  • D
  • W
  • W
  • L

Team News

Carlisle striker Lewis Alessandra, who scored eight goals a season ago, finally got his first of the campaign deep into injury time on Saturday after replacing Jack Armer with five minutes remaining in normal time as Brennan Dickenson set him up for the late equaliser.

Magnus Norman is likely to miss this match because of an ankle fracture, while Taylor Charters has been loaned to Gateshead in the National League.

Goalkeeper Mark Howard has only conceded twice in his previous six league matches, having faced 17 targeted efforts over that stretch.

The leading goalscorer this season for Hartlepool, Mark Cullen has not found the back of the net since he notched the opener in their 2-1 win over Rochdale back on December 8, while Joe Grey scored his first goal for the club in their FA Cup victory earlier this month versus Blackpool.

There was only one new face in the starting 11 for Pools this past weekend as Marcus Carver replaced Cullen in attack after the 29-year-old striker started in their FA Cup tie, and the team will be without defender Jamie Sterry for this upcoming fixture as he was dismissed in the 93rd minute of their match versus the Pirates.

Hartlepool have played Carlisle twice this season, once in the league and once in the group stage of the EFL Trophy, and Lee has got plenty of contributions from his players in those matches.

Their five goals in those games have come from five different players, including Matty Daly, Luke Molyneux, Olufela Olomola, former midfielder Tyler Burey and Gavan Holohan, who fired home the winner in their 2-1 league victory at the end of August.

Carlisle United possible starting lineup:
Howard; Mellor, Feeney, McDonald, Senior; Gibson, Guy, Riley, Dickenson; Mellish, Alessandra

Hartlepool United possible starting lineup:
Killip; Ferguson, Odusina, Hull, Byrne; Holohan, Featherstone, Daly; Carver, Cullen, Grey

We say: Carlisle United 1-1 Hartlepool United

Momentum may be on the side of Carlisle heading into this encounter, but Hartlepool have not played all that bad, and if not for a lack of quality in attack, they could be a lot higher up the standings.

Only two points separate these teams in the league at the moment, so we expect it to be a tight match with two sides capable of dictating the tempo of a game, and a draw seems like a real possibility.

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