Late drama means a share of the spoils
United travelled to Stevenage to kick off their 2012/13 npower League One campaign and manager Greg Abbott made just one change to his starting line up from the Capital One Cup victory last weekend with Paul Thirlwell coming in for Chris Chantler.
The Cumbrians started the game in determined mood despite the intense summer heat and they quickly took the upper hand as they closed down and won the battles in midfield.
"This was always going to be a tough game because Stevenage are a decent side," manager Greg Abbott said. "I thought we started with the right tempo and I don't think Adam [Collin] was tested too much in the first half. They came into a bit more after the break but you'd expected that, and we had to earn the right to get a goal. I feel sorry for the lads that they didn't quite see it through because they've dug in and put their bodies on the line."
A series of set-pieces had Stevenage under pressure but defenders were on top as McGovern and Robson peppered the box with whipped deliveries.
The first real chance of the day fell for Liam Noble when he pounced to take advantage of a poor piece of control from Roberts. He went for a first time shot from the edge of the box and he was unlucky to see it curl just wide of the upright.
Stevenage had their first moment of the afternoon on 19 minutes when Gray beat Bugno before cutting the ball back. McGovern had followed the play and he stepped in to hook the ball clear.
Anthony Grant then found time in midfield but his shot was weak and Collin was able to gather it low.
The Cumbrians picked the pace up and reasserted their authority and Noble forced a corner with another powerful effort which had to be diverted wide by Dunne. McGovern swung the corner to the near post and Miller rose highest to crunch a header over the angle of post and bar.
Freeman tested Collin on the half hour with a tame shot after he bundled his way through challenges from Potts and Berrett, and Haber went even closer when the ball broke nicely for him following a bone-shaking tackle with Edwards. He ran into the box only to be pushed wide by Livesey and the eventual shot nestled harmlessly in the side netting.
Both teams kept the work rate up ahead of the break and space was at a premium with nobody willing to give ground.
"Defensively we worked really well, but that was down to the effort from the whole team," centre half Mike Edwards said. "They're a physical side and we knew we'd have to match that and there's a good understanding about what we all need to do. We have plenty of positives to take from this one again and we have two home games coming up now where, hopefully, we'll build on what we've done today."
Stevenage almost drew first blood within 90 seconds of the restart when Morais lost his marker to make a long ball over the top his own. It was a tight angle and his early shot was sent behind for a corner when he should really have done better.
Five corners in quick succession followed but Livesey, Edwards and Bugno all stuck to their tasks and that allowed Collin to claim the final delivery beneath his bar with the hosts frustrated that they hadn't made one of them count.
Danny Cadamarteri came off the bench to make his competitive debut for the club with just under an hour played and the game started to open up with both sides on the look-out for a breakthrough.
Luke Freeman started to get on the ball more but the blue wall was stubborn and shots were restricted to hopeful efforts from distance as Collin remained largely untroubled.
But there was half a shout for a penalty when Edwards and N'Gala tussled for a low corner delivery at the near post. The pair fell to the ground accompanied by a chorus of appeals but the referee ignored the remonstrations from the home crowd and waved play-on.
The Cumbrians eased the pressure in perfect style on 73 minutes when substitute Danny Cadamarteri controlled the ball with his back to goal. He spun his man and fed the ball through as Matt Robson went on the overlap on the left flank. One-on-one he kept his cool and drilled the ball under the advancing keeper to make it two goals in two games on his return to a wide position.
"I took a touch and turned and I could see Robbo [Matt Robson] out of the corner of my eye," Cadamarteri explained. "I heard his shout and I put the ball through and it was good to see him go on and do the rest. For me, I had the bounce game on Tuesday and half an hour today and it's pleasing to have put that niggle behind me. The manager knows what I can do and I know I'm ready if he needs me."
The feat was almost repeated six minutes later when Noble and Cadamarteri combined to put Robson through once more. Day stayed on his line and made the save with his feet as the winger tried to find the gap.
The introduction of Shroot from the bench gave the hosts renewed vigour and he thumped a volley into Livesey's back within seconds of taking to the pitch.
But the relief was short-lived for Carlisle when Akins wrapped his boot round a 22-yard volley. Collin was unsighted but he parried the effort as he reacted late and it fell at his feet. Shroot was on hand to stab it home from close range as he followed up.
Stevenage - Shroot (87)
United - Robson (73)
Stevenage - Charles (73)
Stevenage - Day, Gray, Charles, Tansey (Akins 65), Grant, Dunne, Haber (Thalassitis 90), Morais (Shroot 79), Roberts, Freeman, N'Gala. Subs - Arnold, Ashton, Furlonge, Ball.
United - Collin, Potts (Simek 90), Livesey, Edwards, Bugno, Berrett, Thirlwell, Noble, McGovern, Miller (Cadamarteri 57), Robson. Subs - Gillespie, Murphy, Beck, Symington, Chantler.
Ref - Fred Graham
Att - 2,736 (456 away fans)