THE hardy souls of Accrington must be licking their lips at the prospect of entertaining Town at the moment.
Five straight away defeats is hardly ideal preparation for Peter Jackson's side going into what promises to be a ferocious televised drama at the uninviting Crown Ground.
Worse still, Town were a defensive shambles for a good 35 minutes at a greasy Brunton Park last night and the watching Stanley scout will be winding up their strikers for the kill in Sunday's showdown.
Goals by on-loan Steve Schumacher after three minutes and the speedy BrianWake on 14 gave struggling Carlisle the confidence to extend what is the best record of any club in the LDV and condemn Town to another miserable motorway journey home.
Last year's finalists, buoyed by a rare lead en route to only a third win of the season, looked far better than their League position would suggest and it wasn't until the axed Efe Sodje was re-introduced as a substitute four minutes from half time that Town showed anything like the necessary urgency.
This was supposed to be Town's opportunity to forget the events of Lincoln, Yeovil, Reading and Scunthorpe and give themselves a welcome on-road fillip ahead of the FA Cup first round trip across the Pennines.
As one of the fancied northern section contenders for a place in the Millennium Stadium final, too, this was supposed to be a comfortable first step against opposition vanquished 2-1 in the League just 10 days previously at the McAlpine.
Neither came about because of Carlisle's stunning start and spirited second-half resistance, while Town's possession and chances came to nothing on the back of poor finishing and yet more brilliant keeping from Matty Glennon, who was the star of the Division III show at the McAlpine.
Many of Town's most promising attacks petered out, too, because the final cross or pass was too close to the six-yard line - and that was most definitely the impressive Glennon's territory.
From the very first minute, Town seemed undermined by a slip from Paul Scott which allowed Schumacher clean through, and only the fingertips of Ian Gray prevented Carlisle taking the lead before any of his colleagues in black had touched the ball.
From the resulting corner, battling Darren Kelly had a shot booted from near the line but Town's relief lasted barely 90 seconds as Craig Farrell - a constant thorn with his pace - found Schumacher unmarked with a right-wing cross and the Everton youngster did the rest with a header off the underside of the bar.
It was the signal for a heavy spell of home pressure which knocked Town completely out of their stride.
Gray had to be alert to keep out Wake, Brian Shelley powered forward for a shot and the lively Brendan McGill sent a crunching drive inches wide.
It was no surprise, really, when Town were caught flat when losing possession in the 14th minute and Farrell sent Wake through to beat Gray with a cleverly chipped shot from the edge of the area.
At that point, Town were under the cosh and looking vulnerable to every attack, which is hardly what you want to see as manager when you've changed four of the back five personnel and put six new names into your starting line-up.
Crazily, Jonathan Stead had a great chance to pull one back for Town with a 10-yard left-foot shot on the turn when Glennon was the only man to beat, but he fired wildly over the bar in a moment which came to sum up Town's night overall.
Stead tried his luck with two 20-yard shots and a bicycle kick as Town recovered some composure before the break and they seemed more determined into the challenge and smarter in the pass in the second period, prompted by Sodje and energetic wing-backs Andy Holdsworth and Anthony Lloyd.
Carlisle, who were lucky to see Kelly escape with only a yellow when handling to stop Stead going clear, had to rely on Chris Billy's excellent holding play and their only decent chance of extending the lead was denied by Gray's low grab from Wake.
The indication it wasn't going to be Town's night, however, came on 52 minutes when Schofield was freed by Chris Holland only eight yards out but, instead of going for goal, he tried a square pass to the startled Booth and the opening was gone.
Town continued to press forward with Stead seeing a low shot well saved and Scott having a free header deflected wide, while Booth was similarly blocked before planting the sort of header wide which he normally scores for fun.
It was left to Glennon to finally complete Town's anguish with a brilliant close-range double save from Schofield and Booth when the prospect of `silver goal' extra-time might still have become reality.
One crumb of consolation: at least Town can play in blue and white stripes against the reds of Accrington and bin the black kit which has yet to inspire a victory this term.
Town Form (3-5-2)
Ian Gray Made a brilliant save from McGill in the opening attack but could do little with either of the goals Rating: 4/10
Andy Holdsworth Planted too many crosses too close to the keeper, but was always willing to push forward and never gave up trying to probe Rating: 6/10
Anthony Lloyd Enthusiastic despite the back line's shaky start and wasn't frightened to get in the box when Town attacked Rating: 5/10
David Mirfin Not the best of returns for the talented teenager, who hadn't started since the last away win at Southend Rating: 4/10
Ian Hughes Town were 2-0 down before he could settle the troops. Fortunate to by only booked for a bad foul on Farrell Rating: 4/10
Paul Scott Made a couple of telling slips in an uneasy return to the starting line-up and also missed a good heading chance Rating: 4/10
Chris Holland Making his first start of the season and played one or two dangerous passes, but unable to find the key for Town Rating: 4/10
Jon Worthington Covered plenty of ground and tried to get Town going in the first half, pressing forward in some promising but failed raids Rating: 4/10
Danny Schofield Failed to shoot when clean through on 58 minutes, when a goal would have put the tie back in the melting pot Rating: 4/10
Andy Booth Planted a late header wide, but all the service intended for him was too near to the keeper and he snaffled it up Rating: 4/10
Jon Stead Missed the target with two first-half efforts and saw a second half shot well smothered on the deck by Glennon Rating: 4/10
Glennon, Shelley, Kelly, Billy, Livingstone (Jack HT), Andrews, McDonagh, Wake, Farrell, McGill, Schumacher (Russell 67).
Subs not used: Rundle,. Molloy, Keen.
Missed the range with one or two crosses but he was always available to colleagues, pushing forward down the right and eventually coming to terms with the threat of Brian Shelley, who was eager to raid down the left for Carlisle. Good show on a difficult night.
If Town were going to salvage something after a terrible start, they needed a goal in the early stages of the second half. The best opportunity fell to Schofield who, for some reason, failed to shoot and squared a wasted cross
Subs used: Carlisle: Jack for Livingstone HT, Russell for Schumacher 67. Town: Sodje for Mirfin 41, Brown for Worthington 67.
Subs not used: Carlisle: Rundle, Molloy, Keen. Town: Fowler, Senior, Mattis.
Scorers: Carlisle: Schumacher 3, Wake 14.
Referee: Mark Clattenburg (Lancs)
Bookings: Carlisle: Kelly. Town: Hughes.
Shots on target: Carlisle 6, Town 5.
Corners: Carlisle 5, Town 5.
Caught offside: Carlisle 1, Town 1.
Free-kicks awarded: Carlisle 11, Town 7.