The Blues face another of the division's in-form teams when they welcome Sutton to Cumbria on Saturday.
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Located in Surrey, the Borough Sports Ground [VBS Community Stadium] has witnessed steady progression over the last 15 years, culminating in the step-up as champions of the National League for the team at the end of the 2020/21 campaign.
Slightly older fans will recall that Sutton enjoyed a memorable FA Cup run back in the 1988/89 season when they romped through the qualifying rounds and the first and second rounds proper with victories over Walton & Hersham, Dagenham and Aylesbury United, to tee-up a tie with First Division Coventry City, who had actually won the trophy just 18-months earlier.
The U's won 2–1 with goals from Tony Rains and Matthew Hanlan and were darlings of the nation following their stunning efforts.
They've settled well this term, and confidence remains high as they currently take more than a glance towards a second successive promotion.
Sutton are on a six-game unbeaten streak in the league (eight if you include their march towards the last four of the Papa John's Trophy) and have shown themselves to be very hard to beat, having climbed their way into the automatic promotion places.
That run includes three wins and three draws, with a stubborn streak away from home bringing them to Brunton Park off the back of two consecutive shares of the spoils on their travels.
That's almost unusual for them as, prior to that, they tended to either take the points or suffer a defeat, with five draws overall the joint lowest in the division.
And Tuesday night brought more joy as they negotiated their way through a tough meeting with Harrogate to book their place in the Trophy semi-final.
Captain Craig Eastmond celebrated appearance number 300 for the club with the only goal that put the U's within one game of a Wembley final.
Cup excitement aside it's the 13 league victories that have kept them motoring along, and they'll certainly cause problems, as we saw at their place earlier in the season.
Forward David Ajiboye bagged against the Blues in September, and he's scored six overall so far.
He's mobile, tenacious and has a knack for getting into tight spots, so we'll need to keep an eye on him.
It will also be good, of course, to see former Blues Dean Bouzanis and Richie Bennett back here at Brunton Park.
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The first ever meeting of these clubs in September 2021 went emphatically the way of the Football League newcomers, with Donovan Wilson netting the first goal of the day with just three minutes on the clock. Alistair Smith bagged a brace, and David Ajiboye rubbed salt into the wounds to make it 4-0 on the day. Manasse Mampala was given his marching orders as it all feel apart for the Blues.
Watch the highlights from that game here:
Referee - Darren Handley
Assistant Referee 1 - Simon Clayton
Assistant Referee 2 - Bradley Hall
Fourth Official - Paul Newhouse
Observer - Michael Pike
Our referee for this fixture is Mr Darren Handley. Darren has been in charge of three games so far this season and has shown 10 yellow cards and one red.
He was last in charge of a Carlisle game in January 2020 when Cardiff City came north for a third-round FA Cup replay. The Blues took their illustrious visitors all the way, with a brace from Harry McKirdy and a Nathan Thomas goal not quite enough as the Bluebirds edged it 4-3. McKirdy's was the only Carlisle name taken on the night.
We also met him at the beginning of December 2019 when we drew 1-1 with Morecambe at the Globe Arena. Hallam Hope put us in front just ahead of the break, but former-Blue John O'Sullivan pulled things level just three minutes later. Hope and Jarrad Branthwaite picked up bookings on the day.
Prior to that he was with us in October when we beat Blackpool 2-1 in the Leasing.com Trophy group game here at Brunton Park.
Ryan Loft and Canice Carroll got us the goals that won the tie, and Canice went in the book alongside Jon Mellish for their troubles.
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