United were at the Wham Stadium to face Accrington Stanley on Saturday afternoon and it became a difficult day as unforced errors left them chasing the game.
Two first half defensive lapses left the Cumbrians with plenty to do, and an early second half goal for the hosts took the wind out of the visiting sails as Carlisle were left to ponder defensive mistakes as they left the Wham Stadium with nothing to show from their tough afternoon.
It was a tight start with defences on top but United almost found a way through when Bennett nodded a long ball down for Hope on the edge of the box. He played it back to Joyce but the flag went up when he tried to lay it off for Adams to strike.
Big forward Richie Bennett appeared to have done everything right when he skipped through two challenges inside the area with Carlisle enjoying some good moments. He drew the keeper off his line and clipped the ball across the face of goal but it had just too much on it and neither Hope nor Adams could finish it off.
An inch perfect ball over the top from Grainger was next to test Stanley as Lambe took it expertly on his toe inside the area. He waited for support from Adams and that gave the home side time to recover as they dealt with the cross.
The hosts broke quickly and McConville surprised everyone when he shot from distance as he angled his run inside. Bonham was beaten and mightily relieved to see it smash onto the top of his bar.
All of the impressive visiting play was undone in a moment when a kick out from Bonham was returned from whence it came with the simplest of headers which sent the ball straight back down the middle of the pitch. Forward Billy Kee was as shocked as anybody to find himself in so much space and he made no mistake as he calmly picked his spot.
Home tails were up and they enjoyed a good spell as they kept the action in the Carlisle half. A neat pass from Conneely left Clark with half a sight during the exchanges but his volley was blocked by Parkes.
Carlisle slowly started to work their way back into it and two passages of patient approach play brought deliveries from Adams which had to be watched. But it was Stanley who dealt a second blow just before the break when Jackson was awarded a free kick as he was chopped to the floor by Miller. Set piece specialist Sean McConville stepped up to take the free kick and he left Bonham with no chance as he swept an unstoppable effort into the back of the net.
The visitors went for a double substitution at the start of the second half, with Gary Liddle and Shaun Miller replacing Tom Miller and Richie Bennett, and United had renewed purpose in their play as they got the ball forward well.
Bonham had to react quickly when Jackson was played clean through by Kee and the keeper did enough to spread himself and nick the ball off the forward's toe.
The Cumbrians missed a great opportunity to get themselves back into it when Grainger put a reverse pass into the area for Adams to latch on to. He had the target at his mercy but he swung his leg wildly and the moment was gone.
Another Carlisle error handed Accrington their third goal when Jones lost the ball in his own half. McConville went at the back line at pace and left Bonham with no chance as he stroked a curling shot past the keeper's dive.
Grainger and Hope had half chances as United tried to make things happen, and Shaun Miller had a stinging shot saved at the near post as he played off Kennedy to work a way through.
Wilks angled a shot wide at the other end as play opened up, and Chapman had to punch a deep set piece from Adams behind with the action ebbing and flowing back and forth.
There was more for Bonham to do as Stanley came again but he came out on top for a second time in a one-on-one situation when he did well to stop Wilks in his tracks.
The keeper also had to tip a dipping free kick over the bar, but Carlisle ended brightly with Miller having a shot blocked and Ellis saw his header stopped on the line from a deep corner delivery.
Chapman somehow saved from Miller as the forward pulled the trigger at close range, and the home keeper did even better from the corner as he went full length to save a fierce Kennedy header.
Stanley stood strong and preserved their first clean sheet of the season to leave the Blues with plenty to ponder as they headed back up the M6.
Accrington Stanley - Kee (17), McConville (43, 57)
Carlisle United - T Miller (41)
Accrington Stanley - Chapman, Hughes, Donacien, Nolan, Clark (Forbes 71), Jackson (Brown 81), McConville, Thorniley, Rawson, Conneely, Kee (Wilks 67). Subs - Wolland, Sykes, Ogle, Johnson.
Carlisle United - Bonham, T Miller (Liddle 46), Grainger, Joyce, Parkes (Kennedy 66), Jones, Hope, Adams, Bennett (S Miller 46), Ellis, Lambe. Subs - George, Devitt, Nabi, Etuhu.
Referee - David Webb
Attendance - 2,120 (786 away fans)