Bristol City picked up their first league victory since March, courtesy of a hat-trick from livewire striker Jay Emmanuell-Thomas, and the struggling Robins hauled themselves away from bottom spot as they turned a poor first half showing into a devastating match winning display.
United controlled the first half and they could have been ahead within just 60 seconds of kick off when Berrett found O’Hanlon with a near post corner. The big defender connected well with his header but it was right at the well-placed stopper.
A block from a 26-yard Berrett free kick then fell nicely for Robson but he shot early and his effort whipped high over the bar.
The visitors had two great chances to grab the lead for themselves as they came fighting off the ropes and they caught the Cumbrians flat-footed at the back when Bobby Reid spotted Wagstaff in acres of space. He beat one but he hurried his shot and it was deflected away for a corner.
The delivery from that was recovered by Shorey and he spotted defender Lewis Dunk moving off his marker. A heavy touch allowed Gillespie to spread himself and make the important save.
It was a frantic pace and Ryan Taylor was unlucky to see a crisp volley on the spin shave the upright as he tried his luck from the edge of the area. Emmanuell-Thomas then used pace and strength to go past O’Hanlon but he was wasteful as he crashed a poor cross-shot into the side netting.
Carlisle started to dominate the midfield and they got their noses in front on 24 minutes when the referee waved play on as Townsend was dragged to the floor by Wagstaff. Determination from Potts brought a corner and Sean O’Hanlon did the rest with his second of the season as he made the inswinging delivery his own.
City tried to respond immediately and Shorey and Emmanuell-Thomas had shots blocked as they queued up on the penalty spot. And the home side survived an almighty goalmouth scramble just ahead of the break when Elliott and Pack found the loose ball at their feet. It eventually broke for Emmanuell-Thomas and it was bravery from keeper Mark Gillespie which eventually won the day when he spread himself to thwart three quickfire toe pokes from the awkward forward.
David Amoo had a looped header cleared off the line as United settled again and nippy wide man cut a lovely ball back from the byline which was just out of the reach of the late arrival of midfielder James Berrett.
Good build up play involving Berrett and Noble put Amoo in possession inside the box but his pass for Thirlwell had slightly too much on it. The captain tried to control his shot but he couldn’t keep it down.
United looked comfortable with their lead but they had only themselves to blame for the early second half equaliser as they fell asleep when a long ball forward looked to be going harmlessly behind. Scott Wagstaff kept it alive with a fierce cross and Jay Emmanuell-Thomas did the rest with an unstoppable header.
The Robins were in the lead moments later when Bobby Reid pounced on hesitation and indecision from Brad Potts. His pass brought a lovely touch from the big striker which gave him the time and space he needed to blast the ball into the top corner.
City suddenly looked the better side and they extended their lead to two goals when Emmanuell-Thomas turned provider with a nice touch with his back to goal. His lay off gave Scott Wagstaff an unobstructed view and he didn’t disappoint with a thundering volley which bulged the far corner of the net.
The arrival of new signing Prince Buaben brought more purpose to the midfield and he was chopped to the floor just outside the box as he got his first touch of the ball. Matt Robson sent his free kick through a gap in the wall and Elliott was relieved to see it run wide of his post.
A high ball over the back line had Buaben interested again but Shorey recovered to execute a fine tackle and to smother the danger. The home side had something to cheer with ten minutes left to play when Pascal Chimbonda kept a high free kick delivery alive. A poor clearance from Williams invited Liam Noble to go for goal and his miscued volley had just about enough to take it past the dive of the keeper and into the bottom corner.
The home crowd found their voices but hopes of a dramatic comeback were immediately dashed when City swept from back to front with a flowing move. Jay Emmanuell-Thomas didn’t need a second invitation as he rode a challenge from Chimbonda before placing the ball underneath the keeper’s dive to make it a very impressive and well deserved hat-trick.
Miller and Amoo kept going at the other end but the attacks fizzled out as Bristol City shut up shop to claim their first winning points of the campaign.
United - O'Hanlon (24), Noble (79)
City - Emmanuell-Thomas (50, 52, 83), Wagstaff (71)
United - Potts (45), Townsend (58), Chimbonda (63)
Carlisle United - Gillespie, Potts (Buaben 70), Chimbonda, O'Hanlon, Townsend, Thirlwell, Noble, Berrett (Symington 60), Amoo, Robson, Guy (Miller 60). Subs - Fleming, Livesey, Gillies, Eccleston.
Bristol City - Parish, Moloney, Williams, Emannuell-Thomas (Harewood 88), Wagstaff, Reid (Bryan 78), Taylor, Pack, shorey, Elliott, Dunk (Flint 39). Subs - Fielding, Baldock, Cunningham, McLoughlin.
Referee - Mr Scott Duncan
Attendance - 4,672 (364 away fans)