United faced the Alex for the second time this season as the pair came together at Gresty Road for the first round of this season's Emirates FA Cup competition on Saturday afternoon.
United boss John Sheridan made three changes from last weekend's starting line up with Hallam Hope, Regan Slater and Richie Bennett in to replace Ashley Nadesan (not granted permission to play by his parent club) George Glendon and Jack Sowerby.
The game kicked off at a frantic pace and Jamie Devitt almost picked up from where he left off last week when a throw from Grainger was nodded out of the area. It sat up nicely for the midfielder but his first time left foot volley angled wide of the upright.
Crewe attacked in numbers from the goal kick and Porter found unexpected space when a ball into the box landed at his feet. He was pushed wide and his drilled cross evaded everybody. The veteran forward found himself in another good position moments later when he beat the offisde trap to latch onto a hooked ball over the top. He shot on the run but he skewed the effort and it bent wide.
It was a good opening spell for the hosts and Charlie Kirk did well to find space as he exploited the left flank. A rolled pass skidded just too far in front of Porter and Collin was happy to allow it to drift away.
Having had a sighter, Devitt wasn't about to waste a chance to go for glory again when Yates slid a pass into his path. His first touch took the ball high and invited a volley, and Garratt was mightily relieved to see that effort from the in-form Blues man bend late and dip into the side netting.
Excellent individual work from Slater saw him intercept a loose ball in the middle of the park before bearing down on goal. He dropped his shoulder and went for it from distance but Garratt got just enough on it to tip it wide of the target.
The visitors went for a short corner routine and Gerrard jumped highest to meet a cross from Liddle, which eventually came from deep. He wheeled away in frustration as it zipped over the bar with Garratt a mere spectator.
Another incisive run from Yates caused all kinds of problems with 23 minutes on the clock, and his reverse pass for Hope opened up a gap as he surged into the area. He spun to try to get it past Garratt, and a second touch from Bennett took the ball further away from the keeper. The referee pointed to the spot as the big striker tumbled to the floor, with the goalkeeper adamant he'd done nothing wrong. Danny Grainger stepped up to take the kick, but Garratt made amends as he guessed correctly to make a very good save.
Crewe dusted themselves down and they could have taken the lead when Kirk sent a deep cross to the back stick as he weaved his way past Liddle. Finney bided his time and his instinctive volley looked to be going in until Gillesphey somehow got himself in the way to make a much-needed block.
A superb, accurate pass from Devitt sent Hope on a run, with both teams still going for it, and he wasted no time in drilling it across the face of goal. Ray put it behind before Bennett could pounce.
Two corners followed, but the Alex concentrated and the danger came to an end when Garratt calmly plucked a shot from Yates out of the air.
Nicholls was very wasteful for Crewe just before the break when he was sent clean through by a raking pass from Kirk. His first touch, a poor one, set the tone and he was left with his head in his hands as he swiped a wild effort into the stands.
Yates was guilty of the same kind of finish at the start of the second half after he'd done all of the hard work to get into a good position. He was caught in two minds and, in the end, neither option was taken as the ball sailed off into the distance.
Hope was thwarted by a sliding block from Nolan as he tried to shoot first time when he was played through, and there was work for Collin to do at the other end when Kirk found a yard of space. His measured curler from 25-yards had to be tipped behind by the keeper.
A brilliant touch from Bennett took him free and clear on the left wing and he wasted no time in finding Hope on the penalty spot. The striker controlled it and aimed for the top corner, but Garratt somehow got there to make the parry. Jones was onto the loose ball but his attempt angled high.
Garratt was there again to deal with a trademark explosion from the left foot of Danny Grainger, and both sides kept probing without quite managing to create anything through an intriguing 15-minute spell.
A cut back from a sprinting Hunt needed just a touch, with clear cut chances at a real premium, and Kirk thought he was the man to apply it as he arrived late. Good cover from Liddle stopped him from making contact.
There were appeals for handball when Shaun Miller flicked on a cross from Kirk late in the game, but the officials weren't interested and the referee waved play on. Miller was on the end of a cross from Hunt in the next Crewe foray, but he got his bearings wrong and he glanced it over the bar.
Misplaced passes and solid defending combined to keep the sides deadlocked in a tense battle, and it needed a howler from Garratt in time added on to bend the tie in Carlisle’s favour. Jamie Devitt was chasing a seemingly lost cause, but it turned into a match winning exploit as the keeper smashed the clearance onto his shin. The rebound was heading just one way and the Cumbrian contingent celebrated as it bobbled over the line, taking the club into Monday's second round draw into the bargain.
Carlisle United - Deviit (90)
Crewe Alexandra - Nolan (29), Hunt (61)
Carlisle United - Bennett (18), Devitt (83), Yates (84), Gerrard (90)
Crewe Alexandra - Garratt, Ng, Pickering, Ray, Porter (Bowery 57), Nolan, NIcholls (S Miller 75), Kirk, Finney (Ainley 57), Hunt, O'Connor. Subs - Richards, Raynes, J Jones, Whelan.
Carlisle United - Collin, Liddle, Gerrard, Gillesphey, Grainger, Yates, M Jones (Sowerby 73), Slater, Devitt, Hope (Campbell 81), Bennett. Subs - Gray, G Miller, Glendon, Egan, McCarron.
Referee - Mr Lee Swabey
Attendance - 2,467 (542 away fans)