United were at the New Lawn on Saturday afternoon to face League Two new boys Forest Green Rovers on their return to league action following Tuesday night's FA Cup success over Gillingham.
And the one-goal victory doesn't quite tell the full story as the Blues created excellent chances and dominated throughout what was a very professional 90-minute display.
Rovers seemed happy to allow United to have the ball from the kick off and a long pass forward from Hill was chased down by Hope. He gave it to Grainger, and there was a moment of panic from home stopper Brad Collins as he spilled it. He scampered quickly to recover it before Bennett could pounce.
The ball into the channel proved to be a useful outlet, as Hope ran off the central defenders, and he did well when Jones found him with his back to goal. He spun and crossed but the deflected delivery curved kindly for Collins.
The Green Devils mounted their first meaningful attack just past the quarter hour when a hopeful pass was picked up by Doidge. He went for the early shot but it came off Hill and was easy for Bonham to take.
United were on the attack almost constantly and Bennett did well from a Grainger throw when he shielded it with his back to goal. His first touch was good and his second was a hooked attempt which went over his shoulder and onto the roof of the net.
Osbourne sent a shot from distance wide as Rovers broke forward from deep, but United should have taken the lead when they broke as the home move broke down. Hill clipped it to Liddle, and a half clearance fell nicely for Hope to shoot. He had just the keeper to beat and was disappointed to see it skim to safety via the top of the bar.
The Cumbrians got their deserved goal just before the half hour when Grainger floated a free kick into the mix. Richie Bennett was left all alone and he made no mistake as he registered his fifth of the season with an unstoppable header.
Bennett had a great chance to double the lead when a miskick from Collins left him with the width of the target to aim at. He chipped the stranded stopper but wheeled away in disappointment as the ball curled the wrong side of the post.
Carlisle came again as they grew in confidence with a through ball from Devitt which sent Hope on a run. He dropped his shoulder and beat his man, and his stinging drive forced a parry from Collins. Lambe was onto the rebound but he was off balance and he could only guide his volley over the bar.
More good football from the away side put Hope through again with just Laird to get past. He ran straight at him and went for an early shot which crept past the dive from Collins. It wasn't too far away as it bobbled just past the base of the upright.
Unbelievable defending from Traore stopped a certain goal just ahead of the break when Lambe ghosted past two to get into the box. His cut back was perfect for Bennett and he thought he'd done the job as he sidefooted the ball past Collins. Traore had other ideas as he somehow completed his acrobatic goal line clearance.
The Green Devils looked more alert after the break but a terrible header from Doidge brought more frustration as he sent a Marsh-Brown cross closer to the corner flag than to the goal.
United responded with a break sparked by Devitt as he robbed possession in midfield. He had Bennett inside but a good block stopped the shot and the cross.
Carlisle continued to create half chances, with crosses from Grainger dealt with by Collins, and substitute Shaun Miller went close when his cross hit a boot and spooned over the bar.
Defender Tom Parkes wasn't too far away when he flashed a shot across the face of goal late in the day, and United managed the game out well as they kept Rovers at arm's length to give their travelling contingent a fantastic early Christmas present.
Carlisle United - Bennett (28)
Forest Green Rovers - Roberts (81), Stevens (84), Laird (90).
Carlisle United - Grainger (86), T Miller (90).
Forest Green Rovers - Collins, D Bennett (Roberts 71), Laird, Traore (Stevens 56), Collins, Marsh-Brown (Bugiel 56), Doidge, Cooper, Fitzwater, Wishart, Osbourne. Subs - Pickering, Simpson, Evans, James.
Carlisle United - Bonham, Brown (T Miller 83), Liddle, Hill, Parkes, Grainger, Lambe, Jones, Devitt, Hope (Etuhu 85), R Bennett (S Miller 65). Subs - Cosgrove, Ellis, O'Sullivan, Rigg.
Referee - Kevin Johnson
Attendance - 2,489 (315 away fans)