Championship high fliers Leicester City overcame a sluggish start at Brunton Park to book their place in round three of this season’s Capital One Cup with a devastating display of second half attacking and finishing.
Foxes boss Nigel Pearson made seven changes to the team which grabbed a dramatic win against Birmingham at the weekend and his new look side struggled to settle as Carlisle snapped at their heels.
However, it needed a timely tackle from Thirlwell to prevent Vardy from pulling the trigger as the nippy striker broke through the back line and bore down on the target. Zak Whitbread rose to meet the resulting corner and he wheeled away in disappointment as he sent his header over the bar.
Carlisle started to work their way into the game and a direct run from David Amoo had the visitors stretched at the back. Whitbread bent low to clear the cross and Potts went close as he drove the follow up just over the bar.
A difficult high ball found Whitbread in two minds just in front of his own box and Matt Robson nipped in to muscle his way through the gaps. His early shot had Logan beaten but it curled well wide of the upright.
The Cumbrians grabbed the lead their play deserved when Miller and Berrett combined to rob a hesitant Neil Danns of possession in midfield. Amoo called for it on the overlap and he made it four for the season with an angled finish across the keeper and into the bottom corner.
Leicester sprung into action as they went in search of an equaliser and Knockaert crunched a stinging long range effort over the bar as the visitors kept the pressure on with a string of testing corners.
Whitbread nodded over and Vardy volleyed wide as Dyer crosses peppered the box and Paul Thirlwell dug his keeper out of a hole when a fierce Drinkwater shot was spilled right in front of the alert Jamie Vardy. The makeshift defender somehow did enough to hook the ball away to safety.
The Foxes drew level just before the break when Chris Wood picked the ball up inside the United half. He twisted and weaved his way through the heart of defence and had the presence of mind to pick his spot with a cool and calm finish past the stranded stopper.
Knockaert and Wood had further chances as the pace of the game increased and Leicester should have taken the lead on the stroke of half time when Vardy spotted Wood in acres of space. But, with just Gillespie to beat, he snatched at the chance and scooped a poor effort into the stands.
The visitors looked determined after the restart and quick break from their half left Lloyd Dyer with a free run at goal. His finish was emphatic as he bulged the roof of the net from a tight angle with a stunning left foot shot.
Matt Robson ran from deep to poke a difficult chance wide as Carlisle went in search of inspiration but the tie was all but settled moments later when Dyer beat the offside trap and made his way into the area. His pull back was perfect for Knockaert who needed just one touch before picking his spot.
Neil Danns was twice thwarted by Gillespie – the first save a fine two-handed block from an unsighted position – and Wood scuffed the loose ball wide when he should have done better.
Things got even tougher for Carlisle when a rash challenge from Potts on Vardy gave Wood the chance to double his tally for the night from the spot. Gillespie guessed correctly but there was nothing he could do.
Liam Moore was next to go close but more heroics from Mark Gillespie kept the marauding defender at bay. It was left to Chris Wood to claim his hat-trick when he swept a fantastic volley on the turn past another despairing dive from the keeper.
The restless home fans were given another moment of cheer when James Berrett scored a beauty from the corner of the area. And the introduction of Lewis Guy added endeavour and he was unlucky not to go closer when had to throw a leg at a flick on from Lee Miller.
It was better from United and Miller tested Logan’s handling when he met a cross from Symington. It was a firm connection but right at the well-placed stopper. Symington and Robson kept the forward thinking movement going but it was Gillespie doing the bulk of the work as he made top drawer saves from Drinkwater and Moore as Leicester ended the game on top.
United - Amoo (16), Berrett (71)
Leicester - Wood (39, 60 pen, 63), Dyer (47), Knockaert (51)
Carlisle United - Gillespie, Butterfield, Livesey, Thirlwell, Black, Potts, Noble (Guy 55), Berrett, Amoo (Symington 74), Miller (Beck 80), Robson. Subs - Fleming, Gillies, Edwards, Todd.
Leicester City - Logan, Drinkwater, Whitbread, Vardy (Waghorn 62), Dyer, Danns, Moore, Bakayago (Schlupp 83), Miquel, Knockaert, Wood (Hopper 66). Subs - De Laet, King, Gallagher, Smith.
Referee - Mr Graham Salisbury
Attendance - 3,308 (576 away fans)