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Dan Childs
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Football betting tips: Carlisle United to oust Stockport in League Two playoff final

Stockport and Carlisle were the highest finishing teams among the League Two playoff contenders and they will go head-to-head for the last promotion berth at Wembley.

Dan Childs' Carlisle v Stockport Tips

Carlisle to win promotion @ 6/5 
Under 2.5 goals @ 8/15 
Jon Mellish to be carded @ 7/4

Odds displayed were correct at the time of writing and subject to fluctuation.

Setting the scene…..

Three points separated fourth-placed Stockport from fifth-placed Carlisle after 46 games and there is a general expectation of a closely-fought contest at Wembley. 

Stockport are in the hunt for back-to-back promotions after recovering from a slow start to the season. 

The Hatters registered just nine points from their opening 11 games but they responded superbly to seal an extended season and came through a thrilling playoff semi-final against Salford, drawing 2-2 on aggregate and winning 3-1 on penalties. 

Carlisle were in the top three from the start of February until late-March, but a stuttering finish to the season (two wins in 11 games) consigned them to the playoffs. 

However, the Cumbrians were worthy 3-2 aggregate winners against Bradford in the semi-final and are approaching the final with confidence.

Carlisle to win promotion @ 6/5

Carlisle manager Paul Simpson has continually stressed the importance of every member of his squad and a team effort could get the Cumbrians over the line at Wembley. 

Simpson returned for a second spell in the Carlisle hotseat in February last year with the club languishing in the relegation zone. 

It seemed that the Cumbrians were heading for the National League but Simpson steered them to safety with eight wins from their final 15 games and now has them on the brink of a return to League One for the first time since 2014. 

Carlisle have kicked on since last season thanks to a lot of smart recruitment. They have strength-in-depth in all positions and are especially well stocked in attack with Ryan Edmondson, Joe Garner, Omari Patrick, John-Kymani Gordon and Kristian Dennis competing for two positions. 

Dennis has been by far their most productive attacker with 20 league goals but he is not assured of his place and was left out of the starting line up for both of Carlisle's semi-final matches against Bradford. 

Carlisle's performance in their extra-time 3-1 second leg success over Bradford was a reminder of how strong they looked earlier in the season and they might be peaking at just the right time. 

Stockport were more consistent than Carlisle in the closing months of the campaign, but their levels seem to have dipped. 

The Hatters went into their 46th game – at home to relegated Hartlepool – with a chance of automatic promotion but turned in a poor performance and were held to a 1-1 draw. 

In their playoff semi-final against Salford they showed a lot of resilience by twice coming from behind, but they were not at their best and were heavily reliant on goalkeeper Ben Hinchcliffe, who was outstanding in the penalty shootout. 

Dan Childs' Tip:

Hinchcliffe will be hoping for a quieter afternoon's work at Wembley but he could be beaten on at least one occasion by a confident Carlisle side who look overpriced 6/5 shots to realise their promotion dream.


Under 2.5 goals @ 8/15 

Stockport have been struggling to adjust since their top scorer, Kyle Wootton, sustained a long-term injury last month, and their lack of potency may contribute to a low-scoring outcome at Wembley. 

Wootton netted 14 goals in 42 league appearances this season but he was far more than an out-and-out goalscorer because his hold up play was vital in bringing the best out of his offensive team-mates. 

Hatters' manager Dave Challinor handed opportunities to Jack Stretton and Isaac Olaofe in the centre-forward position and will have been delighted to see Olaofe score with an excellent header in the semi-final, second leg against Salford. 

However, Stockport have scored fewer than two goals in 12 of their last 16 matches and their recent scarcity of goals must be a concern as they approach their biggest game of the season. 

Carlisle have also had some issues in attack and have blanked in seven of their last 13 fixtures. 

They looked a lot more threatening in last Saturday's 3-1 success over Bradford, but two of those goals came after extra-time and it may take them a little while to warm to their task this weekend.

Dan Childs' Tip:

There seems a strong chance of a low-scoring game and under 2.5 goals looks a solid bet at 8/15.

Jon Mellish to be carded @ 7/4

Versatile Jon Mellish has been a key player for Carlisle this season and his availability after a three-game ban is a huge boost for the Cumbrians, but he is not always the best behaved and looks a solid 7/4 shot for a caution at Wembley. 

Mellish tops the Carlisle yellow card count with nine and was red carded in last month's 3-2 loss at home to Salford after a clash with Elliott Watt.

Dan Childs' Tip:

Four weeks have passed since Mellish's last appearance but he looks certain to come back into the side as a replacement for central-defender Ben Barclay, who is on loan from Stockport and cannot face his parent club. 

Mellish may be short of match sharpness and that will only increase the chances of him making a poorly timed tackle.

Dan Childs' Carlisle v Stockport Tips

Carlisle to win promotion @ 6/5 
Under 2.5 goals @ 8/15 
Jon Mellish to be carded @ 7/4

Odds displayed were correct at the time of writing and subject to fluctuation.

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