How the Bookies See it:
- Match Winner: Carlisle United 7/5, Exeter City 9/5, Draw 12/5 - Sky Bet
- First Goalscorer: Jabo Ibehre (CAR) 6/1, Shaun Miller (CAR) 6/1, Jamie Proctor (CAR) 11/2 - BetVictor
- To Qualify: Exeter City 4/7, Carlisle United 5/4 - Paddy Power
- Carlisle United looked almost certain to finish in the automatic promotion places in League Two, but a catastrophic run of results saw the Cumbrians slip down the table as they picked up just three wins from their last 14 games. Keith Curle’s men were made to sweat on the final day as they twice trailed against an Exeter team who were already guaranteed a play-off spot. Luckily, a 75th minute winner from Jamie Proctor saved United’s blushes and gave the Blue and White Army a second bite at the promotion cherry.
- Exeter City endured mixed fortunes towards the end of their campaign, picking up four wins and succumbing to three defeats in their last seven matches. Victory over title-chasing Doncaster Rovers gifted the Grecians a spot in the final four, but losing to Carlisle on the last day of the season may not have been the ideal preparation as the Devon club enter their first ever Football League play-off fixture.
Carlisle scraped into the play-offs by the skin of their teeth and could find the going tough against an Exeter side who have steadily improved over the course of the season. However, the Cumbrians go into this game safe in the knowledge that they have triumphed over their League Two counterparts home and away this season, winning both games by three goals to two. A repeat of this score line would be unlikely this time around, especially in what could be a tight first leg, but another victory by a single goal might not be out of the question. The home side are 3/1 with Bet365 to take a one goal advantage into the return fixture, while a 2-1 win looks good value at 9/1 with BetVictor.
It will be Paul Tisdale's job to select a team that will nullify a Carlisle attacking line that netted 69 times in 46 games. The Football League’s longest-serving manager must also try to take advantage of the Blues’ defensive frailties, something winger David Wheeler could be used for. The 26-year-old is Exeter’s top scorer this term and would delight in netting the goals that propel his side Wembley. The former non-league star is 7/1 to open the scoring, while a goal at anytime is priced at 11/5, both with Bet365.
With these two teams having only met eight days before, Exeter will certainly be eager to exact swift revenge. City have one of the best away records in the division - second only to Devon rivals Plymouth Argyle - and picked up nearly 60 percent of their points on the road. It is this resilience that could see the travelling fans sent back down south beaming from ear to ear.
- Sports.net’s Top Tip: Exeter City to win 23/10 - Ladbrokes
*Please note, odds may fluctuate.