Easter Monday brought Lincoln City to Brunton Park as League Two heads into the final month of its season.
There was plenty to talk about following a game packed with incident but ultimately it was an end to United's unbeaten run as a first half smash and grab style goal was enough to give Lincoln City the win.
The Imps had a great chance with just two minutes on the clock when a ball into the box eventually found Rhead on the jump. His downward header had Frecklington interested, but his touch was saved by a full length dive from Bonham. The keeper had help from Joyce as they smothered the loose ball and shepherded it behind to safety.
United sent a free kick from Parkes into the area in response and a flick from Hope had to be dealt with as it skipped across the face of goal. Wharton made a vital connection before Ellis could do any damage.
It was a fast-paced encounter and a Lincoln corner found Wharton unmarked at the back stick as it dipped over heads. He couldn't readjust and his scuffed volley bobbled well wide of the mark.
A well-worked Carlisle corner routine saw Devitt and Nadesan create space for Liddle to cross. Hill met it on the full but his header was right at the well positioned Ryan Allsop.
The flag went up for offside as Joyce tried to finish off a move he'd started when he won a crunching tackle in midfield. Bennett spread it to Hope, and he twisted and turned before clipping it into the area. Joyce was there but the assistant referee had spotted that he'd made his move a moment too soon.
Bonham had a stinger from Green to deal with when he bent his run and went for the shot from 20-yards, but it was firm hands which parried the ball away. A long throw followed and Whitehouse was disappointed to see his header drop past the upright.
Good football involving Jones and Liddle brought Carlisle a corner and a short routine pulled Devitt into play. He sprinted into the box and Allsop had to beat the ball behind as a stinging drive came in.
It started a run of corners and Nadesan twice had shots blocked, as did Jones and Bennett, as the Blues tried to find a way through. Appeals for handball were turned down when Hope had a delivery blocked, and Allsop gratefully gathered when a Joyce header fell his way.
A nod down from Rhead at the other end brought a wild swipe from Rowe which bent away, and a diving header from Parkes from a Devitt corner wasn't too far away as the game ebbed and flowed and became very pleasing to the eye.
United looked sharp in the tackle and Devitt once again found space when United harried their opponents out of possession. His driven low delivery was cleared at the front post and Green went in the book as he chopped Liddle to the floor.
It was a good spell for the Blues and crosses from Parkes had Bennett and Ellis challenging inside a packed penalty area. Lincoln came again and an excellent block from Hill prevented Rowe from hitting the target just as things looked to open up for him.
The home side were undone just ahead of the break when they seemed to be caught by surprise when Green was played clean through from a free kick from deep inside the visiting half. Bonham raced off his line to try to deal with the situation but the striker kept his cool to find the bottom corner with a crisp finish.
Things were tight at the start of the second half, but Lincoln almost bagged a second when Green sprinted clear to cross. Rhead headed it into the ground, Bonham punched it and the Blues eventually cleared as they regrouped and closed the spaces down.
Carlisle spurned a great opportunity to pull level when Bennett turned his man inside out and cut across the penalty area. The goal was at his mercy but he put his boot through the surface first and the shot was wayward.
A double substitution brought Campbell-Ryce and Grainger into the fray, with Joyce and Parkes making way, and the first contribution from the left back was a cross towards the penalty spot. Bennett got a flick but Eardley ushered it away.
There was controversy with 17 minutes left to play when a Carlisle corner brought huge appeals for a penalty as a hand went up - seemingly from a Lincoln man. The referee pointed to the spot, but a prolonged chat with his assistant brought a reversal of the decision and a free kick to the visiting side, after Danny Grainger had already placed the ball in readiness for the kick to be taken.
United looked to push forward from the setback and good hold up play from Campbell-Ryce allowed him to set Grainger for the delivery. That was guided behind by Habergham, and the Imps dealt with the corner despite flicks from Hill and Bennett.
Jamie Devitt flashed a shot wide when he went for it from 23-yards, having been played into space by Campbell-Ryce, and Grainger had the Lincoln back line worried once again with another good cross.
Stockton then volleyed over on the spin as the hosts kept pressing with the clock ticking down towards full time.
Carlisle were dealt another blow when Jones was sent off for a second bookable offence deep into time added on, and that took the sting out of what remained of the fightback as the away side sat on their one goal advantage.
Lincoln City - Green (43)
Carlisle United - Parkes (44), Jones (68 & 90 - sent off), Devitt (86)
Lincoln City - Green (34)
Carlisle United - Bonham, Liddle, Hill, Ellis, Parkes (Grainger 62), Devitt, Joyce (Campbell-Ryce 62), Jones, Hope (Stockton 77), Nadesan, Bennett. Subs - Gray, Brown, Lambe, Twardek.
Lincoln City - Allsop, Habergham, Whitehouse (Waterfall 79), Wharton, Rhead (Palmer 59), Green, Bostwick, Frecklington, Eardley, Rowe (Anderson 66), Woodyard. Subs - Farman, Pett, Williams, Wilson.
Referee - Mr Robert Lewis
Attendance - 5,058 (618 away fans)