Carlisle United's best opening day performances of the 21st century

·3-min read
Stefan Scougall in action against Crawley Town
Stefan Scougall in action against Crawley Town

With the League One fixtures set to be released on Thursday, all eyes will be on Carlisle United's opening day opponents.

And while the Blues don't have the best record on the first day of a new campaign, there have been some memorable starts.

Here, we take a look at five of the best opening days performances from Carlisle in the 21st century:

Carlisle United 1-0 Doncaster Rovers (5 August 2006)

After sealing back-to-back promotions into League One, the Blues welcomed Doncaster on the opening day of the campaign.

It was Neil McDonald's first competitive game in charge after he succeeded Paul Simpson after he moved to Preston North End, and he couldn't have wished for a better start - with Paul Murray putting Carlisle in front after just four minutes when he converted Karl Hawley's cross at the back stick.

News and Star: Carlisle United v Doncaster Rovers 5th August 2006
Off the line: Kieren Westwood pulls off another save
News and Star: Carlisle United v Doncaster Rovers 5th August 2006 Off the line: Kieren Westwood pulls off another save

A bumper crowd of 9,433 watched the clash, with Hawley and Kevin Gall having chances to extend the margin of victory.

But one goal was enough for the Cumbrians, who began their spell in League One in the perfect way.

Bristol Rovers 2-3 Carlisle United (9 August 2008)

It was a dream debut for striker Danny Carlton, who netted a brace on his first Carlisle appearance to help the Blues to victory.

Rickie Lambert had put the Gas ahead before Carlton converted from Marc Bridge-Wilkinson's cross to draw the Blues level.

Bridge-Wilkinson himself then put Carlisle ahead with a strike from the edge of the box, with Carlton adding his second and the Cumbrians' third with just ten minutes remaining.

Andy Williams reduced the deficit late on, but John Ward's side were not to be denied victory.

Carlisle United 2-0 Brentford (7 August 2010)

Carlisle had been convincingly beaten by Brentford on the opening day one year prior, but the Blues would be victorious at Brunton Park as the 2010/11 season kicked-off.

News and Star: Carlisle United FC v Brentford FC. 2 - 0. First game of the season League One 2010- 2011. Francois Zoko (right) breaks away from Michael Spillane:7 August 2010
STUART WALKER 50009213F032.JPG
News and Star: Carlisle United FC v Brentford FC. 2 - 0. First game of the season League One 2010- 2011. Francois Zoko (right) breaks away from Michael Spillane:7 August 2010 STUART WALKER 50009213F032.JPG

New signing Francois Zoko impressed throughout as Greg Abbott's team dominated, with Gary Madine slotting home from Sean McDaid's cross to open the scoring.

Ian Harte added the second after Craig Curran was felled in the box, as Carlisle began the campaign in fine form.

Portsmouth 1-1 Carlisle United (6 August 2016)

While this may not have been a victory, it was certainly a satisfying performance - especially given how long Carlisle had to play with ten men.

The Blues, under Keith Curle, would eventually reach the League Two play-offs and begun the season brightly with Reggie Lambe handing them the lead at Fratton Park with 14 minutes played.

Jamie Devitt was sent-off just before the half hour for the Cumbrians, with Carl Baker levelling after the break.

But Carlisle held out to secure a well-deserved point.

Carlisle United 2-1 Crawley Town (3 August 2019)

The last time Carlisle won on the opening day was in 2019, when a quick start against Crawley Town paid dividends.

Harry McKirdy gave the Blues and early lead before Bez Lubala levelled.

But Stefan Scougall's strike secured the three points for the Blues - with Crawley also seeing defender Lewis Young sent-off in second half injury time.

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