United were the first-footers at the One Call Stadium as they went up against Mansfield Town in their first league game of the New Year.
And they had only themselves to blame for a disappointing defeat as they gifted the Stags two first half goals which gave the home side room to breathe on their way to claiming the points which took them back into the play-off places.
Mansfield pumped an early ball forward and a challenge from Hemmings earned a corner as Miller scampered back to cover. The delivery was a good one but Angol sent a tame header straight at Bonham.
The hosts had a run of set pieces, which were well dealt with by United, but MacDonald went close with a glanced header which dropped just wide of the upright.
United enjoyed spells of good possession, but MacDonald found space again when he drove forward from deep. His shot had power but it was easy for Bonham to gather.
It was the visitors who should have taken the lead on seven minutes when Cosgrove flicked a high ball from Liddle wide for Grainger to chase. His delivery was perfect for the late arriving Tom Miller, but he chose to guide his volley at the target and he lost his bearings as he stabbed a scuffed effort wide.
Carlisle were made to pay for the miss almost immediately when a 26-yard MacDonald free kick was blocked by the wall. Devitt tried to feed Grainger for the clearance, but the pass put the left back under pressure and his touch served only to bring the nippy Kane Hemmings into play. He took the ball round Bonham and picked his spot with a neat finish.
The Cumbrians tried to get back into the game quickly and a long throw from Tom Miller caused problems as Cosgrove and Liddle challenged inside the six-yard box. The ball squirmed free for Shaun Miller to volley and he was unlucky as his goal-bound shot hit Rhys Bennett and ricocheted to safety.
It was end-to-end, as United played some good football without quite managing to find a way through, and Bonham was needed at the other end when Hamilton used pace to get into the area. The cut back was inviting for Hemmings but he couldn't get his poke past the stubborn visiting stopper.
Grainger, Cosgrove and Shaun Miller had half chances as Carlisle picked up the pace and Jones was disappointed with himself when he was first to a weak clearance from Pearce. The shot was there to be taken but he pulled at it and it spun harmlessly wide.
More defensive hesitation was United's downfall just after the half hour when a huge lump into the box found Tom Miller and Jack Bonham in two minds. The keeper checked his run, and the defender completely missed his clearing kick, which allowed Hamilton to put the ball into the mix. Bonham got hands to the initial shot but Rhys Bennett kept his eye on it and he gladly stabbed it home from just two yards out.
Home tails were up and both Angol and Hemmings headed wide as they got forward with purpose in a dangerous spell. But United saw it through to the break with plenty to think about as they headed down the tunnel.
Hallam Hope and Richie Bennett replaced Shaun Miller and Danny Grainger for the start of the second half and the big striking partnership had Mansfield stretched as they got to the flick-ons with Carlisle looking to get forward and back into the game.
Reggie Lambe almost found a way through when he controlled well from a big kick from Bonham. His first touch opened a gap but he popped his low drive too close to Logan.
Carlisle once again had the better of the possession but their frustration was summed up when Tom Miller nodded a deep corner onto the roof of the net.
But they got a foothold in the game just after the hour when Bennett was pushed to the ground by Logan as he tried to take a bouncing ball past the stranded keeper. The referee took an age to make his decision, but Jamie Devitt stayed calm and slotted the spot kick home via the base of the post.
And it should have got better for the Cumbrians when Hope pulled wide to deliver a beauty of a cross for Cosgrove to attack. His header beat Logan, but it spooned up off the woodwork leaving Richie Bennett with the width of the target to aim at. The unmarked forward lashed at the loose ball and he had explaining to do as his effort smacked onto the bar and whipped away to safety.
The Stags made sure they punished their wayward visitors for their misses when Potter dropped a shoulder as he surged away on a break. His low cross cut the defence open and Hemmings was there to get the touch which sealed the points and took Mansfield back into the promotion mix.
Mansfield Town - Hemmings (9, 75), Rhys Bennett (30)
Carlisle United - Devitt (67 pen)
Mansfield Town - Angol (51), White (90)
Carlisle United - O'Sullivan (86), Bennett (90)
Mansfield Town - Logan, Bennett, Benning, Pearce, MacDonald, Mellis (Atkinson 83), Angol (Thomas 88), Anderson, Potter (White 79), Hamilton, Hemmings. Subs - Olejnik, Digby, Sterling-James, Butcher.
Carlisle United - Bonham, T Miller, Liddle, Hill, Parkes, Grainger (Hope 46), Lambe (O'Sullivan 80), Jones, Devitt, Cosgrove, S Miller (Bennett 46). Subs - Bacon, Nabi, Ellis, Brown.
Referee - Darren Drysdale
Attendance - 3,632 (320 away fans)