Inside Track: What can Hartlepool United expect from Carlisle United as Graeme Lee's side look to bounce back from their League Two defeat at Bristol Rovers

Hartlepool United are looking to bounce back from a dispiriting defeat at Bristol Rovers when they make the trip to Carlisle United this evening.

By Joe Ramage
Tuesday, 18th January 2022, 10:15 am

Pools performed admirably at the Memorial Stadium which made a late defeat even more difficult to take and Graeme Lee must now pick up his players ahead of another important League Two fixture at Brunton Park.

Pools head over to Cumbria to take on a Carlisle side who have found some form in recent weeks and we’ve caught up with the News and Star’s Carlisle reporter, Jon Colman, to get the inside track on Keith Millen’s men.

How are Carlisle performing this season in relation to their expectations?

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Hartlepool United travel to Brunton Park to take on Carlisle United in League Two. (Photo by Pete Norton/Getty Images)

No supporter would describe 20th in League Two as anything close to satisfactory. Expectations declined from moderate (pre-season) to outright gloomy (autumn), but to his credit, Keith Millen has improved the outlook since December.

Carlisle are eyeing a further climb into the mid-table pack, which would certainly be success relative to their position when Millen came in. But this cannot be described as a successful season, or one that has exceeded anyone's hopes and dreams.

Carlisle have found a bit of form in recent weeks, have they turned a corner now?

Millen has warned against complacency after recent results, and that is certainly a wise approach just now. They have built a seven-point gap above the bottom two but League Two isn't predictable enough to assume that will remain or be increased.

Carlisle's performance levels have certainly improved recently, and the team do look in better and more confident shape. They are not the beaten bunch of autumn, so they should be more competitive in general, however their form progresses from here.

What can Pools expect from Carlisle?

Millen has tended to be a 4-4-2 man, building a more solid base with consistency at the back, and adding defensive security in midfield with Corey Whelan (a versatile defender/midfielder) alongside Callum Guy.

Carlisle have looked to establish a better passing style than the more direct play offered by Millen's predecessor Chris Beech. Up front the likes of Jon Mellish and Tyrese Omotoye are adding energy and the hope is that this will help create space for Jordan Gibson, their most creative threat, to get on the ball in wide and central areas.

Who are the ones to watch for Pools?

If Gibson is on his game, he can make things happen whether by taking on defenders or taking on shots. Omari Patrick, who recently rejoined Carlisle from Burton, is always a threat. And Lewis Alessandra, who'll be familiar to Pools fans, has just returned from injury with a bang, scoring a last-minute equaliser against Crawley.

Pools got the upper hand in the previous meeting this season, can they do so again and how big a game is?

More than anything, it's an opportunity to go ten points clear of the relegation zone for Carlisle - that's more important than anything else in their predicament. Hopefully there will be some edge to proceedings, although it's not a derby as such.

Hartlepool's away record is the sort of thing that terrifies Blues fans but the home side should be a much more competitive proposition than the team that lost at Victoria Park in August.

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