It was a second home game in the space of four days for the Blues as they hosted Grimsby Town at Brunton Park on Tuesday night.
Blues boss John Sheridan was without striker Richie Bennett, who hadn't recovered from a groin injury picked up during the weekend game against Stevenage, and keeper Luke O'Reilly, who had reported in with an illness, was also ruled out of the game.
United attacked the Waterworks End from the kick off and they had their first corner inside 60 seconds when Hope and Nadesan worked together to make use of a long ball forward from Liddle. Devitt sent it in, but Collins jumped high to clear before Nadesan could pounce.
Alertness from Etuhu allowed him to rob Vernam of possession in the middle of the park and he spread it for Hope, who took a touch as he looked to weave a way into the box. The forward beat his man but his shot was blocked just as he pulled the trigger.
Grimsby showed for the first time on seven minutes when Embleton overlapped to get into the box. The angle was tight and he drilled his shot on the run high over the bar.
Carlisle turned defence into attack as Adam Collin stayed big to prevent Hooper from scoring as he was played clean through. United's keeper parried twice, but the ball rolled loose for Whitmore to strike. An excellent block rebounded long and an instinctive pass from Devitt sent Nadesan free. A corner followed as he harried his man with the Blues camped forward.
Deliveries into the area caused problems as Parkes and Gerrard challenged, and a half clearance from Clifton was picked up by Devitt, who put Hope in the clear. He went for a first time volley but it bounced into the ground and the save was easy for McKeown to make.
It was a pulsating opening 15 minutes and Gillesphey had Collin to thank when he stumbled and scuffed a pass back straight into Vernam's path. The stadium waited for the net to bulge but Collin dropped low to make a stunning one-handed save.
United went for a more direct route as a long ball forward was taken down by Nadesan half way inside Grimsby territory. He cut inside and let fly from 19-yards but McKeown dived low to palm it away.
Back up the other end and a short corner routine found Thomas with his back to goal. He twisted and turned before drilling the ball low through bodies. The Carlisle contingent were relieved to see it whistle just past the upright.
A deep cross from Gillesphey was nodded back into the mix by Sowerby, but his initial attempt to find Nadesan was shepherded away. The midfielder regained control and he left his man standing as he put the ball through his legs before crossing it low. Hall-Johnson knew he had to deal with it and his connection was clean.
The Cumbrians were awarded a free kick when Whitmore cleaned out Devitt 24-yards from goal, and McKeown had to readjust quickly to get both hands to Gillesphey's dipper as it took a deflection off his wall.
Hope kept the forward momentum going as he beat his man on the left flank before clipping the ball for Sowerby to nod. He got there but it was slightly behind him and he struggled to find the target.
The visitors had a great chance to take the lead on the half hour when a measured cross found Hooper completely unmarked. He was dead central, and had the width of the goal to aim at, but he got his bearings wrong and sent a tame header wide.
Hearts missed a beat in the Grimsby box when a lofted cross from Gillesphey was spilled by McKeown. Sowerby and Nadesan were after it but his defenders dug him out of a hole.
More injury woes came the home side's way when Devitt, who hadn't been able to shake off the after-effects of the earlier extremely heavy challenge from Whitmore, was replaced by Adam Campbell.
And disaster quickly followed for the hosts on 38 minutes when an incisive attack took them into the left hand side of the United area. A pull back found Hendrie, but Collin did enough to save the first effort with his boot. Luke Hendrie was first to react again and he made no mistake as he swept the loose pieces into the back of the net.
Hooper tried to double the advantage from distance with Grimsby tails up, and Carlisle had a dabble at the other end as a thumped free kick pinged around inside the penalty area. Blocks were made as shots rained in and the visitors were eventually able to hook it to safety.
The Blues should have been level deep into time added on for the half when Nadesan showed great determination to twice close down a clearance before then feeding it to Campbell. He showed a turn of pace to get past his marker, and his delivery was perfect for Sowerby. He was up to meet it, eight yards out, but he couldn't keep his header down and it sailed high over the bar.
Carlisle won a corner at the start of the second period when a curled cross from Gillesphey was headed behind. Campbell sent it in, and he was there to try again when it bounced back his way. A scramble followed when Gerrard nodded it down, and there were loud appeals for handball as Hall-Johnson saw the loose ball out. The officials waved the shouts away.
McKeown did well to deal with a dipping and swirling snapshot from distance from Etuhu as Carlisle continued to try to make things happen, and Hope almost put Sowerby through with a flighted ball over the top. He got there but he was closely marshalled by Collins.
Grimsby started to operate on the break and pace from Hooper took him from his own half to the Carlisle box. His cross got a touch from Collin and that was enough to avert the danger.
Good work from Slater put Sowerby in a good position when a clipped pass was taken down by the midfielder. He wrong-footed his marker, leaving him on the floor, but he chose to shoot early rather than exploit the space in front of him. McKeown found the save a simple one to make.
United had the bulk of the possession through a frustrating spell as they found that the final pass or delivery either fell to a striped shirt or dropped too long.
But a slick exchange of passes saw Sowerby and Campbell combine to carve a path through with 15 minutes left to play. Liddle got involved late in the piece, and the movement left Campbell with a gap to aim at as he put his laces through the ball. A brave lunge was enough to deflect the goal bound effort into the Warwick.
The corner came off the bar from a flick from Gillesphey and there were bodies everywhere as blue shirts tried to make it count. Groans accompanied the referee's whistle as he blew for a free kick for a push on Collins from Gerrard.
Carlisle sent everybody forward through the closing stages and McCarron had a shot blocked as a ricochet fell his way 17-yards from goal. Hope then blazed over as he got on the end of a cut back, and a whisked cross from McCarron was temporarily lost by McKeown, only to be gathered in before Etuhu could get there.
McCarron had another effort blocked in time added on, as did Jones, and the penultimate corner of the evening came to nothing as it refused to fall to a Cumbrian despite being up for grabs.
The last delivery had everyone on the edge of their seats, but the Mariners survived as Campbell's long range shot went into McKeown's hands.
Grimsby Town - Hendrie (38)
Grimsby Town - Hall-Johnson (41), Hendrie (50)
Carlisle United - Collin, Liddle, Gerrard, Parkes, Gillesphey, Sowerby (McCarron 79), Slater (Jones 79), Etuhu, Devitt (Campbell 33), Hope, Nadesan. Subs - Miller, Glendon, Adewusi, Egan.
Grimsby Town - McKeown, Hall-Johnson, Collins, Rose, Hooper, Clifton, Vernam (Cardwell 90), Embleton (Woolford 81), Whitmore, Hendrie, Thomas. Subs - Dixon, Hessenthaler, Robles, Russell, Pringle.
Referee - Mr Martin Coy
Attendance - 3,316 (143 away fans)