Carlisle have only themsleves to blame for coming away from Northampton with nothing as they missed a string of first half chances to hand their hosts the initiative when they bagged goals either side of the break.
The Cobblers were handed an early chance when Atkinson nudged Hoskins onto the floor out wide. A short free kick was blocked twice as Richards tried to shoot and a thundering effort from Cresswell was also smothered as the home side looked to capitalise.
More blocks followed as O'Toole and Richards tried their luck and United were able to break as the home side increasingly pushed men forward. Asamoah took it from Atkinson but his low cross was stopped before Gilliead could get a touch.
A wild volley from Byrom is best left unmentioned, as is a quick bye kick from Gillespie which put the back line under pressure. Archibald-Henville eventually lost it and O'Toole grazed the outside of the woodwork as he tried to deal out the ultimate punishment.
More lively work from Asamoah should have brought a better end result, as he wriggled away from Cresswell, but a heavy touch meant he couldn't get any purchase on his cross.
Things appeared to have opened up for Calvert-Lewin when Byrom came out of a sliding challenge with the ball but his shot, driven from 30 yards, was right at Gillespie.
A missed clearance gave Asamoah another sniff at a gap at the back but he lost his footing when he came face to face with the keeper and his toe-poke on the tumble skipped harmlessly across the face of goal.
A wonderful piece of football should have brought Carlisle the opening goal when Gillesphey nodded a fantastic pass from Atkinson forward. Grainger was onto it like a flash and he wasted no time in putting a dangerous ball into the area. Asamoah was there to meet it but he somehow sent his 12-yard volley wide.
It was a short-lived reprieve for the hosts as Hery and Dicker worked hard to win it back inside the home half. Kennedy stepped in to help and he used a run from Hery to put Gilliead clean through. With just Smith to beat the Geordie youngster didn’t disappoint as he notched his second goal in two games with a confident bottom corner finish.
United almost doubled the lead moments later when Asamoah checked his run and called Hery forward. He found Grainger and another whipped cross had Kennedy in two minds. He went for the back heel but he couldn't quite direct it at the target.
Carlisle were in the driving seat and a ball over the top caught Northampton on their heels. Asamoah went up against Smith for the chase but he couldn't do enough to complete the lob he looked for as he lost his footing and poked it right into the stopper's midriff.
A dipping header from Richards, as Adams centred the ball, was the best Northampton could muster as they huffed and puffed their way back into the game and a lovely flick from Asamoah to work space on the left had the home side on the retreat as they realised they'd had their lock picked. Kennedy was unlucky to have his effort blocked at source.
Time added on brought more fantastic stuff from Asamoah as he dropped a shoulder and made space for a shot. Smith was beaten but the woodwork came into play as the curving ball smashed against the outside of the upright.
And Carlisle were made to pay for their missed chances when Northampton won a corner in time added on for the half. The visiting defence screamed for a free kick as Gillespie was blocked off but Dominic Calvert-Lewin ignored the furore and made no mistake with a thumping close range header.
Lady luck completely deserted United after the break when the hosts took the lead with their first attack. A run from Adams left Hoskins in control and his shot took a horrible deflection before it skipped up off the surface, over Gillespie and into the net.
United picked up the pace as they tried to respond and a shot from Grainger was blocked as they pushed for their opening. Hery did well to overlap as Dicker won it back but his cutback was behind the advancing front line.
A misplaced pass from Archibald-Henville on the hour brought Northampton forward and Gillesphey showed a calm head when he sent the ball over the bar as he faced his own target. But the Cumbrians were undone from a corner for the second time when Calvert-Lewin was left completely unmarked and with the easy task of prodding the ball into an empty net.
Carlisle survived more testing set pieces as their confidence waned but a late run and shot from Miller raised spirits in the away end as he went close with a decent attempt.
A run from Nicky Adams ended with a low drive for Gillespie to save and the same from substitute Joe Thompson at the other end had Smith at full stretch as he saw it late.
A late, late goal for Charlie Wyke made things interesting when he poked a Thompson flick past Smith, but it wasn't quite enough as the hosts did what they had to do to hold onto their points.
Cobblers - Calvert-Lewin (45, 63), Hoskins (47)
United - Gilliead (29), Wyke (90)
Cobblers - Calvert-Lewin (83)
United - Archibald-Henville (38), Miller (53)
Northampton Town - Smith, Cresswell (Diamond 19), Byrom, Richards, Adams, Hoskins (Potter 74), Buchanan, Calvert-Lewin (Taylor 85), O'Toole, Furlong, Brisley. Subs - Lelan, Watson, Hackett, Clarke.
Carlisle United - Gillespie, Miller, Atkinson, Archibald-Henville, Gillesphey (Wyke 65), Grainger, Dicker (Thompson 76), Hery, Kennedy, Gilliead, Asamoah (Rigg 65). Subs: Hanford, Joyce, Sweeney, McQueen.
Referee - Mr Graham Horwood
Attendance - 3,642 (254 away fans)