United were at Christopher Park on Tuesday afternoon for the second of their Central League Reserve Cup fixtures.
And they were made to work for their victory as the Latics exploded into the game with a goal from their very first attack of the afternoon with just 22 seconds on the clock.
It was an unbelievable opening to the fixture as the visitors were caught on the hop when Wigan mounted a determined attack down the right flank. A low cross was smashed into the back of the net as blue and white shirts queued up to get the final touch.
United set about getting themselves into the game and they gave the hosts a scare when a good tackle left Cosgrove in space. He went for a first-time shot but the keeper was well placed to save it.
There were big appeals for a penalty as Wigan attacked in numbers on the quarter hour as two meaty challenges left an attacking midfielder on the floor. The officials took a long look but waved play on.
Carlisle started to edge on top and they deservedly drew level when A Trialist and Olsen exchanged passes following a quickly taken throw. Olsen clipped the ball into the box and Sam Cosgrove timed his run perfectly to glance an unstoppable header into the roof of the net.
The Cumbrians kept the pressure on and an overlap on the right wing took Salkeld into a dangerous crossing position. He didn't disappoint with a whipped delivery and Steven Rigg showed strength and determination to get enough on the ball to make sure it popped over the line.
Half chances came and went at both ends, with Cosgrove smashing one past the upright for United and a Wigan midfielder doing the same when he volleyed from distance.
And the Latics were right back in it on the stroke of half time when they took advantage of some loose defending from a deep free kick. Experienced Ireland striker Noel Hunt bent his run and got enough on the ball to leave Bacon with no chance of getting a touch.
It was Carlisle who made the early mark at the start of the second half when Cosgrove robbed possession inside his own half. He raced into the space in front of him and slid a lovely ball through the back line for A Trialist to chase. The forward didn't disappoint as he drew the keeper and picked his spot.
Wigan were rocked and a winding run from Cosgrove took him into the area as he got forward with purpose yet again. The goalkeeper was committed and the referee pointed to the penalty spot as the big United striker tumbled to the ground. Samir Nabi placed the ball down and tucked it away as he found the bottom corner.
The visitors reshaped and protected their lead and Morgan Bacon was called into action on four separate occasions as the opposition attack knocked on the door. The second and third of the quartet of saves can only be described as 'top drawer' as he showed excellent reactions to make close range blocks.
Carlisle United - Bacon, Goldthorpe (Brockbank 83), Taylor, Hutchinson, Olsen, Salkeld, Nabi, Watson (Adewusi 67), A Trialist, Cosgrove, Rigg (Cowburn 46). Subs - Ashton, J Miller.
Goals - Cosgrove (25), Rigg (29), A Trialist (47), Nabi (50 pen)
Booking - Cosgrove (68)