Late first half goals seal the points
Carlisle United returned to home winning ways on Tuesday night as they stayed patient and reaped the rewards courtesy of a clinical two minute spell at the end of the first half.
Crewe came out of the blocks quickly and an early Leitch-Smith inswinging corner found Vadaine Oliver at the near post. His flicked header took Amos out of the game and it needed Chris Chantler to hook the ball away off the line.
United won a free kick tight by the touchline as they took possession in the Alex half and a half clearance from the Berrett delivery brought a cushioned header from Thirlwell. Miller shaped to shoot but the offside flag was already up.
Pace from Symington brought United's first corner on 11 minutes and O'Hanlon was disappointed to see his header go wide. Robson recovered it and his low cross had to be swept clear as a line of blue shirts waited for the chance.
Lovely, flowing football followed as Berrett and Miller combined on the edge of the area and Etheridge did well as he raced off his line to close the angles. A shove in the back put Berrett off balance as he clipped his shot but the corner was all he was given as his team mates asked questions of the officials.
It was all about Carlisle and a Chantler shot from deep, from a cleared Berrett set piece, ricocheted off Symington and diverted away from the target. Max Ehmer got into the action with a powerful 30-yard drive which zipped over the bar and more neat passing from Noble gave Robson the chance to get to the byline. His first time delivery took three deflections before Ellis smashed it away to safety.
United got out of jail on 25 minutes when a high ball into the box caused problems. Noble misjudged his clearing header and sent it back towards his own goal, and Vadaine Oliver stunned the crowd with a perfectly executed overhead kick which bounced over the line off the angle of post and bar. The Crewe celebrations were cut short, though, as referee Andy Haines had blown his whistle for a head injury to Dugdale during the build up of the move.
Another long ball forward found Moore with his back to goal and he held play up as Leitch-Smith made up the ground. The lay off was good but the shot was always riding high. United then had their own appeals for a spot kick turned down when Robson went shoulder to shoulder with Mellor as the pair chased a pass from the centre circle from Miller.
The Alex had a good spell just before the break and a cross from Moore had Chimbonda scampering back to make the clearance. He got to the ball just before the striker but needed treatment for a nasty clash of heads.
United almost grabbed the lead on the stroke of half time when Chantler committed his man with a blistering run. His cross skipped up off the surface and it needed a one-handed save from Etheridge as Miller guided the header at the roof of the net. Sean O'Hanlon made his presence felt as the corner came in and he took the plaudits as he got the merest of touches to a thundering Symington volley.
And it got better for the home side in time added on when Crewe fell asleep on the job. Matt Robson went one-on-one with the keeper and made it five for the season as he calmly picked his spot.
Carlisle looked confident at the start of the second half and a double step over from Symington created space for an ambitious shot. He put his boot through it but it was always flying high to safety.
James Berrett was next to go close with a superb dipping curler as United started to enjoy their football. He moved the ball out of his body and waited to celebrate until it thumped against the bar.
Ben Amos showed real class to keep a swirling, swerving Tootle effort from going in as he found himself having to follow the unpredictable flight of the ball. His two-handed touch came at just the right time as the visitors set themselves to celebrate. And Amos was on his toes again for the corner delivery as he twice blocked at close range with Ellis and Oliver trying to make a decisive touch.
The Alex enjoyed better spells of possession but Amos endeared himself to the home crowd with his decision making and assured handling. A long throw out from the big stopper set Robson on his way once more but he dragged his shot as he opted for power over precision.
Crewe kept throwing men forward and Amos made the save of the night with 15 minutes left to play when Oliver beat the offside trap. The keeper spread himself and made a fantastic block save as it looked odds on that the visitors were about to find a way back into the game.
Lee Miller missed by a whisker when he broke late for United and curled a shot from angle just past the upright, and a string of late Crewe corners had hearts in mouths as substitute Mike West tried to make an impression.
Carlisle settled for their lead as they defended in numbers and hunted in packs and they almost notched a third late in the game when Chimbonda clipped the ball in. Robson got there but his volley lacked conviction and Etheridge gratefully scooped it up.
A late Crewe 28 yard free kick came to nothing as Evans popped it right at Amos and Lewis Guy missed a great opening as he left his marker for dead as he ran into the area. It was a difficult chance as he stretched for the toe poke and he was left with his head in his hands as the ball ran free. Lee Miller then had a shot blocked in an all-action finish and Etheridge saved from Robson as he was also sent clear.
Crewe grabbed a consolation with the last attack of the game when Davis got there to nod a well taken corner into the net. And West almost equalised seconds later but for another wonderful Amos save from a stinging top-of-the-net bound volley.
United - O'Hanlon (45), Robson (45)
Alex - Davis (90)
Carlisle United - Amos, Chimbonda, Ehmer, O'Hanlon, Chantler, Thirlwell (Buaben 67), Berrett, Noble (Guy 81), Symington, Robson, Miller. Subs - Fleming, Livesey, Amoo, Potts, Beck.
Crewe Alexandra - Etheridge, Tootle, Mellor, Davis, Ellis (Waters 58), Dugdale, Osman, Leitch-Smith (West 81), Moore, Oliver, Evans. Subs - Garratt, Guthrie, Nolan, Audel, Aneke.
Referee - Mr Andy Haines
Attendance - 2,969 (77 away fans)