Our reward for the fine victory over Fleetwood in Round One is a visit from Championship side Sunderland in the next round of the Carabao Cup.
Thank you to our Match Sponsors for this game:
Match Sponsor – Solway DAF
Associate Sponsor – Lattimer Homes
Match Ball Sponsor – Bimson Haulage
We hope you all enjoy your evening with us - and thank you for your support.
Our Match Referee is Darren Bond. Darren has been in charge of five games so far this season and has shown 16 yellow cards and one red.
He was last with us at Brunton Park for last season’s feisty 3-2 victory over Hartlepool. Jabo Ibehre, Danny Grainger and Michael Raynes got the goals in a nip and tuck affair and Shaun Miller was sent off with just over half an hour left to play to make things even more interesting.
The Black Cats were relegated from the Premier League last season and have started well in the second tier with new boss Simon Grayson getting his side well-organised.
Ahead of what’s sure to be an enjoyable evening at Brunton Park, we take a closer look at what’s happening with our visitors from Wearside:
Keen to bounce back ...
After a summer which saw a lot of uncertainty surround the Stadium of Light, it’s been a fairly strong start to the season from Grayson’s side.
They ground out draws with promotion hopefuls Derby and Sheffield Wednesday while claiming victory away at Norwich as they picked up five points from their first three games - a good return.
But they suffered a first defeat of the season last time out as Leeds ran out 2-0 victors in the North East, meaning the Black Cats haven’t won at home since 17 December 2016.
They’ll be keen to ensure their away form is better, starting with the trip across the A69 tonight.
Will Grayson stick or twist?
The Sunderland boss has named the starting line-up for the last three games - but will he be tempted to switch things up at Brunton Park?
After some strong performances Grayson resisted the temptation to tinker with his side but, after a first defeat of the season and during a busy period, he may well change a few personnel in Cumbria.
There were several players looking slightly jaded towards the end of the defeat, and the likes of John O’Shea, Adam Matthews and Darron Gibson may be handed chances to shine if players are rested.
Grayson will likely have one eye on a tough away trip to Barnsley at the weekend, too. After playing three games in less than a week, it would be surprising if there wasn’t at least one change.
A first victory in over 30 years?
The Cumbrians last beat Sunderland in the old Second Division during the 1973/74 season, as they ran out 1-0 winners at Brunton Park. Will that 34-year wait end this week?
Since then, the meetings have been dominated by the Wearsiders, although Untied did twice force FA Cup replays after draws at Roker Park in 1994 and 1995.
In Carlisle’s 19 meetings with Sunderland, the Black Cats have been victorious on nine occasions while the Cumbrians have picked up four wins.
Interestingly, this is the first time the two sides have been drawn together in this competition. We have, however, met in no fewer than four FA Cup ties.
Our last meeting came in the Third Round of the FA Cup back in 2013/14 season as we fell to a 3-1 defeat at the Stadium of Light - Matty Robson netting for the Blues.
How do Carlisle fare against Grayson’s sides?
It’s a fairly mixed bag, really.
Grayson has come up against the Blues during his time in charge at Blackpool, Leeds, Huddersfield and Preston, with United managing five wins from 12 meetings with his sides - with Grayson earning the same number of wins.
The Blues fared best against Grayson during his early days, and the only side they failed to beat while managed by Grayson were Preston.
Ones to Watch
+ Didier Ndong - Sunderland’s record signing, the Gabon international has recently been linked with a move to Lyon after impressing during the early weeks of the season. A combative box-to-box midfielder, Ndong’s physicality and passing range can quickly see the game transition from attack to defence. While goals may not come naturally, the midfielder is sure to provide plenty of oppor-tunities for his teammates.
+ Robin Ruiter - The Dutch goalkeeper may well earn a first start of the season at Brunton Park having played second fiddle to Jason Steele so far this campaign. But that’s not to say he’s a tame understudy; the 30-year-old showed his worth during a trial over the summer and comes with a wealth of experience from his time at FC Utrecht. A tall, imposing figure, Ruiter will prove a tough last line of defence if selected.
+ George Honeyman - Sunderland fans have been pleasantly surprised by the emergence of Honeyman, with the attacking midfielder netting twice already this season. He looked lively in the victory over Bury in the first round of the Carabao Cup as he grabbed the game’s only goal, before following that up with a strike at Hillsborough during the draw with Sheffield Wednesday. The youngster possesses a great skill set and raw pace which is hard to combat.