In opposition this season: Carlisle United

A second consecutive home game against recently-relegated opposition will see Exeter City take on Carlisle United at St James Park. Oliver Roderick takes a look at the Cumbrians, another of the Grecians’ opponents this term.

Last season
Last season the Cumbrians got off to an unusual start by dismissing manager Greg Abbott after only six games.  That was a winless run, the first three games of which were all defeats by a four-goal margin.  The decision seemed to pay off as they won their next three. Graham Kavanagh, Davie Irons and Tony Caig shared caretaker duties before Kavanagh was handed the reins permanently.

In the long term, however, Carlisle were unable to drag themselves away from danger.  Only taking one win from their final 14, United slipped to 22nd, and with it relegation back to the fourth tier. 

The summer so far
11 players, including Nacho Novo, Pascal Chimbonda and Lewis Guy, were let go following Carlisle’s relegation to League 2.

Graham Kavanagh has brought in four new players: those are Antony Sweeney, of Hartlepool, Danny Grainger, most recently with Dunfermline Athletic, Gary Dicker from Crawley and Billy Paynter of Doncaster Rovers.  

Plans are also in the offing for a new stadium to be built in the city.

The manager

Carlisle United manager Graham Kavanagh was a popular player amongst fans at all of the clubs he played for, and earned 16 caps for the Republic of Ireland.

He has earned himself a cult hero status amongst Cardiff City supporters, captaining them between 2001 and 2005 and helping the Bluebirds to Division Two play-off final success in 2003.  He signed for them for a £1 million record fee, and finished his first season at Ninian Park as top-goalscorer. He eventually departed for Wigan and then moved to Sunderland.

He first moved into coaching at Carlisle, when he agreed a player-coach role in 2009, and was made permanent manager in September 2013.

Ones to watch

Striker Billy Paynter had a prolific strike partnership with Charlie Austin when both were at Swindon Town.  He hasn’t scored a lot of goals since: he got 13 in two seasons with Doncaster Rovers, but will want to hit the ground running for his new club.

Liverpool Academy graduate David Amoo had a decent-enough season personally last term, scoring eight goals.  That was a personal-best tally for a season, and a figure he will look to surpass with the drop in division.

Exeter City just about have the edge when it comes to the historical bragging rights surrounding this fixture. 

The last three meetings have been nothing to shout about as far as City fans are concerned, however, especially the most recent clash: the Cumbrians beat the Grecians 4-1 at Brunton Park, not the sort of result you’d hope for as reward for making the longest away trip of the season!
Exeter City wins: 19
Carlisle United wins: 16
Draws: 13

Club links

City defender Danny Butterfield has played his football at both ends of the country, having been with Carlisle before joining the Grecians in 2013.  He only played twice for the Cumbrians, however, and headed to Devon three weeks after departing.

The late Ian Atkinson made over 100 appearances for Carlisle in the 1950s before beginning a brief spell at St James Park to conclude his career. Craig Farrell joined non-league Exeter City following his Carlisle release in 2005, while Troy Archibald-Henville, the defender who played for Carlisle last season, is an ex-Grecian.

Other links include Aidan McCaffery, Cleveland Taylor, Lenny Pidgeley, recently-departed Grecians assistant manager Rob Edwards and Jamie Robinson.

Key clash
Carlisle United 4-1 Exeter City, Brunton Park, Saturday 28th April 2012

Exeter City's three season stay in the third tier of English football came to an end after a 4-1 defeat at Brunton Park.

Liam Sercombe's 35th minute finish drew City level just seconds after Francois Zoko had given the play-off hopefuls the lead.  However, when Jordan Cook lifted the ball over Lenny Pidgeley just before half-time and Liam Noble grabbed the third after the interval City's hopes of the great escape were fading fast.

They looked to have a lifeline though when Alan Gow was tugged back by keeper Adam Collin only for Dan Nardiello's effort to crash back off the bar and despite creating plenty of chances the game wasput to bed when Zoko blasted home his second.

Carlisle have odds of 18/1 to win the League 2 title this season according to Sky Bet.  Promotion is 9/2, and relegation is 12/1. 

United host newly-promoted Luton Town on the opening day. Carlisle are 6/4 to win that one, while Luton are also 6/4 and the draw is 23/10.