Carlisle ground out a vital three points courtesy of a return to the score sheet for Jabo Ibehre and some dogged defending on a day when it didn't quite click at Brunton Park.
Stevenage came into the game off the back of two consecutive wins and confidence was high as they threw men forward. And they almost capitalised with just two minutes on the clock when a weak kick out from Gillespie went straight to Hedges on the edge of the box. He immediately fed it to Parrett but the United stopper redeemed himself with a one-handed full length save.
The visitors kept things tight through the opening 20 minutes but a deep free kick from McQueen found Ellis on the run. His nod back across the face of goal had to be hooked over the bar by Franks as Wyke lurked dangerously.
Both sides struggled to create anything of note but Raynes had to be at his best when Pett burst through the midfield at pace. An excellently timed tackle stopped the nippy runner in his tracks.
A whipped cross from Pett evaded everyone as the visitors kept plugging away and they thought they'd taken the lead when Parrett was left with time on his hands. He chipped the keeper with a shot from the outside of his right boot and he was disappointed to see it bounce back to safety off the underside of the bar.
A good run from McQueen brought an outswinging cross which had Wyke interested but it was eventually swept clear as it fell harmlessly inside the area.
It was a better spell for the hosts and a tough tackle from Wyke gave Kennedy time to spread the ball wide. Comley was onto it like a flash but he couldn't keep his long range shot down.
A double swipe from Tonge and Ogilvie left Gillespie with the easy task of scooping up the bobbling ball, but Stevenage missed another very good opportunity to get themselves in front when Wilkinson jumped highest to meet a swirling corner. The big defender had the width of the goal to aim at but Raynes did enough to unsettle him and the header screwed well wide.
Gilliead and Gillesphey replaced Joyce and Atkinson at the start of the second half but Stevenage went close with their first attack when Harrison latched onto a ball over the top. He lifted it over the advancing Mark Gillespie but it dropped onto the roof of the net.
Charlie Wyke rattled a snapshot volley wide as United tried to lift their crowd, and Parrett was a whisker away with a zipped 30-yard free kick as set pieces looked the likely avenue from which a goal would come.
Good play from United put Kennedy into space and he twisted and turned his way past his marker as he shaped to shoot. Jones was rooted to the spot as a curled shot spun just past the upright.
Hope sent a long effort high in what was a better spell for the home side, and Gilliead earned appreciative applause when he wriggled his way into the area on a winding run.
It was perhaps written in the stars from the moment the red card decision was overturned on Thursday that Jabo Ibehre would have a major part to play and he took centre stage on the hour when McQueen lofted a cross back into the area. The big striker stood his ground and made it 15 for the season with a precise header which left Jones with no chance.
A quick one-two instigated by Hope left him with a chance to volley and it was close as it flew through legs and just past the right stick.
But Carlisle were left to breathe a sigh of relief at the other end when Hedges found himself completely unmarked and with the goal at his mercy. His volley beat Gillespie but it also whipped into the advertising hoardings.
Wilkinson was then guilty of a glaring miss when he somehow headed over from less than two yards out, and Hope relieved some of the growing pressure at the end as he took his time before bending a cheeky shot wide.
Gillespie was at his best again when he threw himself across to tip a bottom corner bound O'Connor toe poke past the post and United defended well through a frantic spell of time added on, with blocks from Ellis and Raynes, to claim their hard earned three points.
United - Ibehre (59)
United - Hope (74)
Stevenage - Keane (33), Wilkinson (66)
Carlisle United - Gillespie, McQueen, Ellis, Raynes, Atkinson (Gillesphey 46), Hope (Asamoah 82), Joyce (Gilliead 46), Comley, Kennedy, Wyke, Ibehre. Subs - Hanford, Hery, Rigg, Thompson.
Stevenage - Jones, Wilkinson, Franks, Hedges (Marriott 82), Pett, Harrison (O'Connor 77), Tonge, Parrett, Lee (Keane 8), Henry, Ogilvie. Subs - Day, Cox, Johnson, Conlon.
Referee - Mr Eddie Ilderton
Attendance - 4,248 (70 away fans)