Leyton Orient head coach Richie Wellens admits he has a soft spot for this weekend's opponents Carlisle United - and expects a tough test at Brunton Park.

O's make their longest trip of the League One campaign to the border town, having won 3-2 on their visit last season on the way to the League Two title.

And Wellens claimed it was one of their hardest games of all, telling the club website: "We really struggled there last year. We went 3-1 up and we were playing against 10 men but they were outstanding, it was one of the toughest games we had.

"A really tough place to go, it's a big pitch, good ground, good support.

"The logistics of it, it is a long way for us. But I've got a little bit of a soft spot for Carlisle.

"I remember a couple of years ago when I went there with Swindon, you get these supporters behind the dugout and they just give you pelters for the whole 90 minutes.

"And I had a little nibble and as soon as I nibbled, they've gone 'oh, he's gone, he took the bait'.

"I promised myself when we did go up there last year I wouldn't nibble and I think the fact I didn't got on their nerves. Some of the comments went a bit too far, but all is forgiven in love and war."

O's completed the double over Paul Simpson's side with a 1-0 win at Brisbane Road in April, thanks to a Jon Mellish own goal, and secured promotion a couple of weeks later.

Carlisle beat Stockport in the play-off final at Wembley to join O's and Stevenage in League One this season and Wellens added: "It's amazing the season before last, the three clubs really fighting for survival, the three managers came in, myself, Steve Evans and Simmo, the next season all get promotion.

"I don't think that would happen too many times.

"It's a bit of a sleeping giant Carlisle, the pull and attraction of the area is huge. Good club and a brilliant manager.

"I like Simmo, I think he's a great guy. I played with Simmo, I've got a lot of time for him, he had a brilliant left foot, has done a fantastic job."

The Cumbrians have struggled at the higher level so far, recording only their second win in 12 matches last weekend, when a hat-trick from Jordon Gibson sealed a 3-1 win at Bolton - after a Mellish own goal.

And that served as warning to Wellens, whose side beat Reading 2-1 thanks to a last-minute George Moncur goal as the club paid tribute to long-standing supporter Derek Reynolds.

"Real threat on the counter-attack, good shape, very aggressive in terms of they will follow you man for man. They back themselves," he said.

"It was a really good performance, Bolton are a really good team.

"In the end, Bolton ran out of ideas and Carlisle frustrated them and got them on the counter on several occasions.

"It's going to be a tough game, a different game because they're at home."
O's have been well supported on their travels and Wellens had a message to those making the 600-mile round trip.

"Good luck, it's a long journey, make sure you take your packed lunch and a couple of flasks," he said.

"We've had an emotional week as a club, but come out in great credit, stood in unity together, showed a lot of compassion and support for one of our own."