Carlisle fans are being advised to get their tickets early with another big walk-up expected for the Exeter City home game on Saturday, with both teams looking for the win for their own important reasons.
The Grecians are chasing an automatic promotion spot, having enjoyed a very consistent season of performances, and the Blues are looking to banish the spectre of a relegation battle once and for all have turned their own season its head with an excellent run of results.
“Our support has been absolutely tremendous,” manager Paul Simpson said. “If we can get it again on Saturday, and make it a really difficult place for opposition teams to come, it’ great for the players.
“We all know we’ve got a perfect example, Exeter to Carlisle isn’t like a short hop, it’s a hell of a trek. We’ve got to make this a really difficult place to come.
“We can do that by having an atmosphere, and the supporters have done that so far and been really positive in that.
“But we also have to make sure we do it as players, and they have to go out, start the game properly, put Exeter on the back foot, get us on the front foot, if we do that I’m sure these supporters will stay with us again.”
“I want them to come and see something positive about the club, and I think we are doing something positive,” he added. “When you get more fans coming in it adds that little bit of pressure and expectation, but that’s what I want.
“I want players to show whether or not they can deal with that expectation and pressure because regardless of the fact that Carlisle United are a League Two club at the moment, we are capable of getting crowds.
“If these players can’t deal with an expectation and a crowd then they’re probably not the right people to be here. We have to be able to deal with it, and I don’t mind if we get big numbers and they expect me to put a team out to win.
“I really want that and it’ll certainly make the football club better the more we can get through the gates.”
As for preparations ahead of the game, he told us: “It’s been very good. I keep saying that, don’t I, but they really have been.
“They’ve trained really well and I think even though it was only a draw at the weekend it was a positive winning draw, in terms of getting the goal in the way we did. The way we played in the second half has put everybody in good spirits.
“Look, there are players who are unhappy because they’re not playing, but that’s part and parcel of football. It’s something that you have to get used to, and I think I’ve said it before, if I look back through my career which started many moons ago in 1982, I can safely say I’ve had more down times than I’ve had good times.
“Players have to get used to it and hopefully they’ll be able to deal with it as well if it happens to them going forward.”
“It’s all about getting results as a group,” he continued. “I always go back to the first time we won and Dynel was walking off the pitch talking to Gav, and he was telling how nice the feeling was to have a won a game, because he hadn’t won a first-team game at that point.
“It is a nice feeling, it’s what we all want from every game, and it doesn’t half make your life better. The whole week is better, the environment is better, but we have to keep doing it. I’m on at the players all the time about that.
“On Thursday I was quite heavy handed and strong with them about little things that I’ve picked up on since Saturday’s game. I’ve gone over quite a few of our games again and there are little things where I’m seeing trends coming that I think we could be better.
“I’ve given it to them about that, I’ve shown them clips of what I’m talking about, and I’ve shown them on a slide what I want it to look like, and not what it did look like. Hopefully we’ll be able to put it into practice on Saturday and in the other five games after it.”
“All of that comes from working hard together,” he told us. “Every player will be needed for that. At this level it’s really unusual to have a bench full of senior professionals, like we have.
“Last weekend we had Lewi Alessandra and Jack Armer who didn’t make the bench, and we’ve got a big group of players here. If I’m going to be honest with you it’s probably too big, but at the moment it’s what I’ve come in to and I’m going to make the most of it.
“I was able to freshen it up and I’m able to do that with players who are seasoned, experienced lads who can come in and do a job. It may be that we freshen it up again this weekend, so everybody has to be ready.
“I go back to that first Wednesday when I spoke to the players and I told them then that we would need all of them. Most people have been involved, whether as a starter or as a finisher - maybe one or two who haven’t had minutes - but there’s always a chance that they’re going to be needed.
“I want them, even if they aren’t used on a match day, to make training as intense as it can be to make sure that from Monday to Friday we’re at a high tempo and standard, as we want our games to played on a Saturday.
“I honestly do believe that if you do it right during the week the game becomes a lot easier. And the fact the players are keeping going is another sign that there’s a real spirit there.
“Last weekend was a huge point which the players earned with the way they went about it with their attitude and discipline, and we’re going to need that again at the weekend.
“We’ll have to play with a real desire to get people working hard, and if we do that then at the end of the game we have to accept whatever result comes our way, knowing that we gave it pur all again.”
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