Carlisle United - Portsmouth

After previous season, when they narrowly avoided relegation beating Millwall in the last round, recent campaign looks nearly the same. They have only two wins in opening eight rounds in League One (with same number of draws and four defeats), they have won only one of their last five matches and currently hold 17th place. Home shape is even more disturbing. A single win against main relegation contender, Tranmere Rovers 3-0 and three defeats. Points from Brunton Park were taking Brentford, Exeter City and Brighton & Hove Albion and interesting is it was the only away win for all these three clubs. Addition to their poor record is two consecutive league defeats, both without a scored goal. So far, only bright moments they live in Cup competition. After elimination of Oldham Athletic (1-0 at home), popular the Cumbrians caused a big shock in the previous round by winning at Bristol City (who btw. have the best home record in Championship, after Newcastle). Manager Greg Abbott will have to decide whether to make changes after weekend’s defeat, but he surely won’t be able to count on defender Simon Lakeland who remains out with a knee injury. Carlisle are playing in the third round of the League Cup for the first time in 34 years.

Portsmouth are breaking all the records in Premier League. They made six consecutive defeats at season opener (plus two from last two games in previous campaign). All started with late takeover of the club by Arab businessman Sulaiman Al Fahim that caused the most of club’s signings came in the final week of the summer transfer window. There are a bunch of new players at Fratton Park and they simply need some time to gel up. Despite the zero on their balance, pitch performances give a hope for better days. At last home game, Pompey put a decent display against Bolton, but thankfully to big errors in defence line finished empty handed. In last round at Villa Park, once again team looked fine, but same story with defensive frailties and zero remained. Manager Paul Hart somehow keeps the good dressing room atmosphere and even fans don’t lack in support. But, next game could be decisive for their future. Cup progress should boost a team’s morale, despite the missings Portsmouth have Premier league players, very competitive squad and win is very reachable. Otherwise, defeat from a third league, mediocre team can sealed their fate. Hart can not count on recent signings O'Hara, Prince-Boateng, Williamson and Smith, who all miss out due to being cup-tied after playing for their previous clubs in earlier rounds of the competition. Defenders Steve Finnan (hamstring) and Hermann Hreidarsson (foot) will probably be sidelined.

Home side already made a first class surprise in Bristol and for them every cup victory has historical weight. However, despite their certain maximum effort tonight, I don’t think they will be even near to make another upset. For the visitors, moment when this encounter comes makes this game as a battle for life and death. They’re without several keys, but the players that are coming in are more than capable to win. Pinnacle offer 2.01. Away win.

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