United returned to league action at Brunton Park for the first time in over a fortnight as they entertained last season's successful Conference play-off finalists Tranmere Rovers.
Manager John Sheridan made one change to the starting line-up from last week's away victory at Cambridge with Hallam Hope, back from international duty with Barbados, in for the unlucky George Glendon.
An accurate long ball from Parkes invited the Blues forward early in the game when McNulty went for safety first with a clearing header. The throw eventually came to Devitt and he almost released Nadesan as he beat his man and spread the play. Monthe stretched a leg to make an interception.
Tranmere showed for the first time when Stockton bounced a long ball back for Norwood to shoot. He went for it from distance but Collin was happy to watch it skid past his upright. Banks was next to try his luck, when he found a yard of space, but his venomous shot was always rising high.
Jennings put one right at Collin in what was a good spell for the away side, but a quick release from the stopper sparked a fluid home attack. Yates held it up before giving it to Devitt, and he teased a beauty of a cross to the back stick. Bennett was there with a header which looped over Davies and frustratingly onto the top of the bar.
Former-Blue Cole Stockton forced a fingertip save out of Collin when he took a touch before unleashing a rasping drive as Tranmere tried to get forward with more purpose. The keeper did enough to protect his top corner.
The Blues thought they'd done enough when Hope somehow got to a ball over the top which was heading out of play. His high delivery was met by Nadesan, and confusion followed as the Rovers defence failed to get it clear. A whipped and instinctive cross from Hope was just an inch too far in front of Nadesan as he lunged to try to get the touch.
United started to pass the ball around with purpose as the half wore on and Devitt almost unlocked the door with a wonderful defence splitting bullet which had Hope very interested. Davies was off his line quickly to smother the danger.
Etuhu had a stinger blocked on the edge of the box moments after a Devitt toe poke had met the same resistance, but Tranmere were opened right up when Bennett beat the offside trap to get onto the end of a chipped Devitt cross. Nadesan was unmarked and dead central but the big striker took the more difficult option of going for goal. His downward header angled into the side netting as Nadesan asked why he hadn't been played in.
A slick corner routine, which saw Devitt bounce a short one off Hope, put the midfielder in space on the angle of the box. He went for the top corner but it dipped just a moment too late.
United kept the pressure on, with Yates and Hope having swapped wings, but Rovers kept things tight and close at the back and the sides went into the half time break deadlocked at 0-0.
Good work from Nadesan, as he nicked the ball from McNulty after the restart, brought a cross which was just too far away from Bennett.
Ollie Banks had a shot deflected behind at the other end, as he dropped a shoulder to try to lose Liddle, and the captain was there to mop up the danger when the corner came in.
Carlisle continued to probe and a crunching drive from Bennett had to be blocked as it headed for the nets. Nadesan had crosses blocked, as did Hope, and Sowerby was sent on to try to offer a different type of approach.
The visitors enjoyed a good spell on the hour mark but strong defending meant chances were limited. It was Devitt who lifted the home fans when Sowerby and Etuhu combined to give him a clean sight. His shot had to be watched as it flashed past the post.
A neat switch of play from left to right saw Etuhu and Sowerby link up again as Liddle drifted in on the overlap. His delivery deserved better but it skimmed off Bennett's head and McNulty was able to clear.
The Cumbrians started to ask the major questions and Gillesphey expertly bent his run to put a dinked ball towards the back stick. Bennett threw himself at it but he couldn’t make the connection.
Captain Gary Liddle took matters into his own hands as he started a run which saw him play a lovely one-two with Campbell as he broke into the box. He clipped the ball over the advacning Scott Davies and the referee had no hesitation in pointing to the spot as the keeper got a touch to send the marauding defender tumbling to the floor. Jamie Devitt stepped up to take the spot kick but he was thwarted by an excellent save from the stopper.
Disaster struck at the other end within minutes when a seemingly harmless cross caught Tom Parkes completely undecided. He hung his boot at it and left Adam Collin with no chance as it bounced its way into the bottom corner.
Carlisle threw men forward and Campbell had a shot blocked as he tried to find a gap from a Bennett nod down.
But the Rovers lead was doubled, and the points claimed, when veteran Paul Mullin weaved his way into the area with three in his wake. Collin could do nothing as a superb strike nestled sweetly in the back of his net.
Collin had to save late in the day from Norwood and Mullin, and 17-year-old Liam McCarron came on to make his league debut as United continued to try to get something from the game.
Tranmere Rovers - Parkes (og 81), Mullin (85)
Carlisle United - Devitt (61), Parkes (83)
Tranmere Rovers - Banks (59), Davies (76)
Carlisle United - Collin, Liddle, Gerrard, Parkes, Gillesphey, Yates (Sowerby 54), Etuhu, Devitt, Hope, Nadesan (Campbell 73), Bennett (McCarron 90). Subs - O'Reilly, Miller, Glendon, Slater.
Tranmere Rovers - Davies, McNulty, Monthe, Norwood, Jennings, McCullough, Caprice, Mottley-Henry (Smith 73), Stockton (Mullin 69), Bakayogo, Banks. Subs - George, Buxton, Ellis, Gilmour, Cole.
Referee - Mr Matthew Donohue
Attendance - 5,187 (796 away fans)