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The Pathway to League One Survival | BlueArmyBlog | A Carlisle United Blog

After 26 games played in League One for The Blues this season, we sit in 2nd bottom of the league on 20 points. That works out at 0.77 points per game, which is nowhere near the pace we need to survive in the league.

In today's blog, I look at the pathway to League One survival, following a review of the teams around us, our fixtures, tactics and data.

Points Target

Back in June, I wrote a blog which looked at the total points required to avoid relegation. I deemed the target number to be 51 points. You can have a look at this blog post here.

After their win against us, Exeter are now in 20th position, having played 25 games, and are on 26 points. That works out at 1.04 points per game. If they were to carry on at the same pace, they would finish the campaign on 48 points. With this being a projection I believe that the 51-point target for survival should stand, even though the number of points required might be less.

That means that we need 31 points from 20 games, which works out at 1.55 points per game. That is pretty much double the pace we have going at so far. We need a big uptick in form.

Fixtures and Projected Results

Let's have a look at the fixtures for the rest of the season to see what kind of results we need to get to achieve potential survival. There are a total of 57 points up for grabs in the remaining fixtures. One thing we need to do, which we have not done this season, is beat the teams from 15th down at home and try to draw away. That would mean wins against Reading (h), Wycombe (h), Cambridge (h), Cheltenham (a) and draws against, Burton (a), and Shrewsbury (a). That would give us 14 points.

If we can win at home against the current mid-table teams, we would need to beat Lincoln (h) only. That gives us 17 points.

Mid-table teams we play away are Orient (a), Bristol Rovers (a), Charlton (a), and Northampton (a). Let's say we win one, draw two and lose one. That gives us 22 points.

Let's say we lose away to Barnsley (a), Peterborough (a) and Derby (a). We need to win two and draw three from the games at home out of the teams gunning for promotion, out of Oxford (h), Bolton (h), Pompey (h), Barnsley (h), Stevenage (h) and Blackpool (h). That would get us to 31 points, with the numbers looking like this:



(Reading (h), Wycombe (h), Cambridge (h), Cheltenham (a), Lincoln (h), Northampton (a), Blackpool (h) and Pompey (h)


(Burton (a), Shrewsbury (a), Orient (a), Bristol Rovers (a), Oxford (h), Bolton (h) and Stevenage (h)


(Barnsley (a), Peterborough (a), Derby (a), Charlton (a) and Barnsley (h)


Points and fixtures are one part of the survival pathway, but what are the others? I've had a look at some data which explains its own story.


The Blues have scored just 10 goals from open play this season off 16.10xG. This is one of the worst conversion rates in the division. In comparison, Wigan have scored 23 goals off 17.09xG in open play. Let's hope Luke Armstong can assist us in this area. Last season his finishing rate was on par with his xG.

Conceding the first goal and clean sheets

We have to stop conceding the first goal in games. Out of the 26 league games we have played this season, we have conceded the first goal in 22 of them.

We have only had one clean sheet this season, which is the worst in the league. We must improve in this area if we are to survive.

Clearances per match

We make the least amount of clearances per match in the league at 17.3 per 90. The teams who are just above us in this metric are Stevenage (18.2 per 90) and Pompey (18.4 per 90). The teams at the top of this metric are Shrewsbury (26.0 per 90) and Cheltenham (25.3 per 90). If we were a high-possession or high-pressing team, I could understand this stat being as low as it is. But, we aren't that kind of team, and we are fighting for our lives at the bottom of the league. We should be making much more clearances. I am yet to fully understand why this stat.

Expreienced Personnel

This is a subjective topic, and some readers may feel differently from me, however, there are a few things which I think might help us for the rest of the season, one of them being experience.

When Simmo came in last time and saved us from relegation, I specifically remember him stating that he wanted to get players with experience onto the pitch as we were a bit 'young'. We are currently playing a young goalkeeper. While Breeze has done well, you have to wonder what someone like a Mark Howard would add to the defence. That leads me on to Huntington, for me, if he is fit, he has to play. It can't get any worse than our current form, and I know we have to play deeper due to the lack of pace of Huntington and Lavelle, but what have we got to lose? In midfield, could we play McGeouch, Neal and Moxon? Rather than relatively inexperienced McCalmont and Charters, or Gibson who playing out of position. Up top an experienced pair of Garner and Armstrong who cause a threat, however, would we resort to long ball too much?

Round Pegs in Round Holes

I am hoping after the Wigan defeat the formation tinkering comes to an end. I feel like we need to stick with 3-5-2 and play players in their actual positions. Huntington and Emmanual can only play in a back 5. Robinson is a better wing-back than a full-back. We don't have any wingers apart from Gibson We've got loads of central strikers.


In summary after completing the blog, I'd be lying if I thought there was a good possibility are going to stay up. The form needs to change now, not at the end of the month. We need wins and clean sheets. We need to go on an unbeaten run. Every game which goes by where we don't pick up points means that the task will get harder each game week, and eventually, we will run out of games. We have to hope that somehow the points required for survival are less than 51, and a team like Exeter, Burton or Shrewsbury go on a really bad run between now and the end of the season.

In Simmo we Trust.

Up The Blues.

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