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Carlisle United
League Two
May 28, 2023 at 1.30pm UK
Wembley Stadium
Stockport County
1 - 1
Patrick (84')
Mellish (24'), Charters (90+2')
Mellish (34' og.)
Collar (105+2')
Carlisle win 5-4 on penalties

Preview: Carlisle United vs. Stockport County - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Sunday's League Two clash between Carlisle United and Stockport County, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

Carlisle United and Stockport County meet in the League Two playoff final at Wembley this Sunday.

The two seeded sides from the regular season battled back from first leg defeats to reach the showpiece occasion, with the final place in League One up for grabs.

Match preview

Carlisle United's Ben Barclay celebrates scoring their third goal with teammates on May 20, 2023© Reuters

Carlisle took the hard route to reach their first-ever Football League playoff final, as their thrilling semi-final against Bradford saw plenty of twists and turns in the second leg.

Having been 1-0 down away from home in the first leg, Carlisle forced extra time and then took the lead in the tie for the first time before being briefly pegged back, until Ben Barclay's 112th-minute winner sparked jubilant scenes at Brunton Park.

After eight seasons in League Two, Carlisle now have an opportunity to return to the third tier for the first time since the 2013-14 season.

After losing the playoff semi-finals in 2016-17, many seasons of mediocrity have followed, including a 20th-placed finish last season, but now Paul Simpson will lead his side out with a golden opportunity to return to League One.

Despite being the club's first playoff final, it is not their first trip to Wembley, as they have played in four EFL Trophy finals at this venue, winning two and losing two.

Their recent form against Stockport is not as encouraging though, as they have won only one of their last eight encounters, with that coming back in 2009.

There were also fears that Carlisle's season had petered out at exactly the wrong time, having won just two of their final 11 games in the regular season, and they were even less fancied after losing the first leg in the semi.

However, by winning the return leg, it has set Carlisle up with an opportunity to win back-to-back games for the first time since March.

Stockport will contest their fourth EFL playoff final after destroying the Class of 92's dream of taking Salford City up to League One.

Stockport County players celebrate winning the penalty shoot out on May 20, 2023© Reuters

The Hatters beat their fellow Greater Manchester rivals on spot kicks in an equally thrilling semi-final that also saw plenty of extra-time drama.

Like their final opponents, Stockport lost the first leg 1-0 away from home but forced extra time thanks to Isaac Olaofe's strike.

However, after conceding a goal eight minutes from time, it looked as though Salford would book their place under the Wembley arch.

Just three minutes later though, Jack Stretton nodded home from close range after a long throw caused chaos in the Salford penalty area.

After forcing the shootout, long-serving keeper Ben Hinchliffe saved twice from Adrian Mariappa and Stevie Mallan as Stockport came out 3-1 winners on penalties, taking Dave Challinor's side to Wembley.

It gives the Hatters an opportunity to seal consecutive promotions after winning the National League title last season, and they would become the first side since Tranmere Rovers to do so since 2019.

After a rapid fall from grace, Stockport spent six seasons in the sixth tier of English football between 2013 and 2019, but they now have a fantastic opportunity to return to League One for the first time since 2010.

The club's last visit to Wembley came in 2008 and they were able to end a cursed 100% losing record which they had on their first four trips here by winning the League Two playoffs that year.

They enter the final in sensational form too, after Challinor's men were unbeaten in their final 13 games of the regular season, before Salford beat them in the semi-final first leg, but they put that right by winning in the return at Edgeley Park.

Carlisle United League Two form:

Stockport County League Two form:

Team News

Stockport County's Paddy Madden celebrates scoring their first goal on January 8, 2023© Reuters

Jon Mellish will be available for Carlisle again here after serving a three-match suspension following his red card against Salford in late April.

Mellish's return is perfectly timed, as Carlisle's defensive options have been slightly stretched with Morgan Feeney and Nottingham Forest-loanee Fin Back both out injured.

Jack Ellis remains out for the Cumbrians, but Callum Guy recovered from a slight knock to play 120 minutes in the semi-final second leg, and is on course to feature for a 52nd time this season.

Macaulay Southam-Hales is expected to be Stockport's only injury absentee for the final.

Kyle Wootton is doubtful having missed the last month of action, but Antoni Sarcevic returned after six games out, coming off the bench and scoring the match-winning penalty in the shootout.

Paddy Madden played 120 minutes against Salford after missing the first leg, and should he feature here, it will be his first appearance at Wembley since turning out and scoring for Yeovil Town in the League One playoff final 10 years ago.

Carlisle United possible starting lineup:
Holy; Barclay, Huntington, Mellish; Senior, Guy, Moxon, McCalmont, Armer; Garner, Sarcevic

Stockport County possible starting lineup:
Hinchcliffe; Lewis, Horsfall, Hussey; Knoyle, Hippolyte, Camps, Croasdale, Rydel; Olaofe, Madden

SM words green background

We say: Carlisle United 0-1 Stockport County

In what will be a tense battle for League One football, Stockport have a huge edge in terms of recent form over their opponents.

While form often goes out the window in these occasions though, Stockport showed their fighting spirit when staring defeat in the face against Salford, and come into the final as slight favourites.

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 2.5 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 2.5:data

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