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Carlisle United
League Two | 2nd Leg
May 20, 2023 at 3pm UK
Brunton Park
Bradford City
3 - 1
Halliday (21' og.), Guy (98'), Barclay (112')
Armer (6'), Garner (60'), Guy (96')
Derbyshire (106')
Clayton (42')

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

Sports Mole previews Saturday's League Two clash between Carlisle United and Bradford City, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

Carlisle United are set to do battle with Bradford City at Brunton Park on Saturday afternoon for a place in the League Two playoff final at Wembley Stadium on May 28th.

The Blues will have to overcome a one-goal deficit to stand any chance of booking their place in the final, having lost the first leg of the semi-final 1-0 at the University of Bradford Stadium.

Match preview

Carlisle did not perform badly in the first leg, with it turning out to be a closely-contested encounter as expected, but they failed to take their opportunities, meaning a comeback is needed on Saturday afternoon.

In front of a Brunton Park crowd that will be packed to the rafters, the Blues still have a very good chance of progressing to the final, although they will have to improve on their recent form, which has tailed off towards the end of the season.

Paul Simpson's side have now won just two of their last 12 games, failing to score in seven of them, with goals drying up at the business end of the season after being prolific for large parts of the campaign.

With 66 League Two goals to their name, Carlisle were the third-highest scorers during the regular season, so they will know they are capable of turning it around on Saturday, even if they have not been at their best recently.

That said, the Blues have scored just once in their three matches against Saturday's opponents this season, so Simpson may have to do something different if his side are to stand any chance of progressing to the playoff final.

Bradford looked solid, if not spectacular, against Carlisle in the first leg, managing to get over the line courtesy of Jamie Walker's first-half goal, which was the midfielder's second in his last three games.

Much like their opponents, the Bantams have not been in the best of form, winning just one of their last five regular season games, losing against Crewe Alexandra and Swindon Town on their travels.

However, prior to the defeat against Swindon, Mark Hughes's side were unbeaten in their last nine games on their travels, conceding just three goals in the process, indicating they know how to grind out a result away from home.

Although, for the most part, they have been very solid on their travels, Bradford were defeated 1-0 at Brunton Park back in December, in a match where they failed to register a shot on target, and they cannot afford to put in a similar performance this weekend.

Carlisle United League Two form:

Bradford City League Two form:

Team News

Carlisle manager Simpson may choose to make a couple of changes in attack, given that his side did not manage to score in the first leg, with Krystian Dennis and Ryan Edmondson coming in for Omari Patrick and Joe Garner at striker.

Jonathan Mellish was shown a straight red card against Salford City in late April, and the midfielder is set to serve the final game of his suspension, so Alfie McCalmont should keep his place in an advanced midfield role.

Hughes is unlikely to change his Bradford side given that they won the first leg, with Andy Cook, who scored 28 goals in the regular season, set to lead the line again.

Notable absentees for the Bantams include Harry Chapman and Vadaine Oliver, both of whom have not been involved due to injury problems in recent weeks.

Carlisle United possible starting lineup:
Holy; Barclay, Huntington, Whelan; Senior, Guy, Moxon, Armer, McCalmont; Dennis, Edmondson

Bradford City possible starting lineup:
Lewis; Halliday, Stubbs, Crichlow-Noble, Ridehalgh; Gilliead, Clayton, Smallwood, Walker; Cook, Banks

SM words green background

We say: Carlisle United 1-1 Bradford City (Bradford win 2-1 on aggregate)

Carlisle will give it their absolute all with a place in the playoff final on the line, but Bradford have shown that they know how to get the job done away from home all season.

As such, we expect the visitors to pick up a draw, which will be enough to book their place at Wembley on May 28th.

For data analysis of the most likely results, scorelines and more for this match please click here.

Top tip

Our expert tipster partners at are predicting under 3.5 goals in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Under 3.5:data

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