United's last game before Christmas was the long trip into Essex to face Colchester United.
Head coach Chris Beech was without Jarrad Branthwaite and Harry McKirdy, who were suffering with illness, and that meant a rekindling of the Knight-Percival and Webster central defensive partnership.
Christie Elliott was stepped up into a midfield role to complete the trio of changes as the Carlisle boss found himself with two scholars on the bench as he looked to deal with the current glut of absences.
The game survived two pre-match pitch inspections following three days of heavy rain in Essex, but the referee deemed the pitch playable despite ongoing concerns over some areas of the surface.
Winger Nathan Thomas was unlucky for the Blues with just three minutes on the clock when he intercepted a pass before running towards the penalty area. His shot on the run was cleared and Colchester were able to break. Good work from Robinson saw him take the ball under control, and Pell then called for it 25-yards out. He put his boot through it but it was scuffed and Collin was able to watch it fly wide.
Carlisle came again when Elliott and Hayden combined near the corner flag from a quickly taken throw. Hayden crossed deep, and a poor header from Bramall brought Thomas into play once again. A stinging goal bound volley was stopped in its tracks by Prosser.
The U's went close when a raking 50-yard pass found Harriott in a dangerous area on the left hand touchline. A low cross was begging to be knocked in but it skipped unhindered across the face of goal. The hosts stayed forward and a clipped delivery was met with a header from Pell who was just 10-yards out. It had direction but it was too close to Collin and he was able to gather it in.
The Cumbrians responded with an excellent move when Hayden bounced the ball off Elliott on the halfway line. A through ball to Hope followed and the striker forced a diving save from Ross when he unleashed a thundering shot on the sprint.
It was hearts in mouths time for the away side just after the quarter hour when Bramall and Robinson worked space on the left flank. A clipped cross found Harriott just seven yards out but his volley on the slide was blocked by Mike Jones. The second delivery looked to be perfect for Gambin but he somehow poked a close range shot wide when it looked easier to score.
Hallam Hope was a whisker away from opening the scoring for United when a long ball forward from Webster was flicked on by Loft. Hope spun his man and rattled it low towards the far corner but it skipped off the uneven surface and just wide of the mark.
Colchester took the lead when Bramall used pace to get down the left flank and into a crossing position. A low delivery spun awkwardly off the surface and Knight-Percival could do nothing as it ricocheted off his shin and popped over the line.
Home tails were up and a shot from the edge of the box from Pell took a deflection before bulging the side netting. The same player was there to meet the corner with a header but Collin watched it into his hands.
Loft brought a save from the legs of Ross as he worked space inside the opposition area, and Elliott was even closer when he stayed deep as the initial set piece delivery was recovered. He thrashed a low cross into the mix but there was nobody there to finish it off despite bodies throwing themselves at the loose ball.
The home lead was doubled just before the break when Poku let fly with a thundering drive from distance. Collin dived to make a two-handed parry, but Colchester shirts were on the follow-up and Callum Harriott found himself with an empty net to aim at as he slotted it into the bottom corner.
Hayden headed over from a Mike Jones cross in stoppage time for the half, and Robinson blazed over for the U's at the other end when he latched onto a slip from Webster, but it was Colchester who held the two-goal advantage as the half-time whistle blew.
Keeper Adam Collin did well to get down to a grasscutter from Harriott at the start of the second period, and Gethin Jones got just enough on a tackle to stop Gambin in his tracks as he tried to bundle his way through to go one-on-one with Collin.
A difficult job became a mountain to climb on 52 minutes when Cohen Brammall took charge of a 24-yard free kick. His strike took it over the wall and Collin could do nothing as it dipped its way into the top corner.
A run from Hayden saw him play Loft into the box as United tried to lift themselves, but his shot was too close to Ross and the keeper dropped low to gather it in.
The home side probed with shots from Gambin and Harriott, and Robinson was denied by a superb save from Collin when he found himself unmarked just eight-yards out. His header was going in until the keeper somehow got there to tip it over.
A header from Olomola was scooped up by Ross with 20 minutes left to play, and Poku rifled one over at the other end as Colchester pushed forward from the clearance.
Mike Jones tried to take matters into his own hands on 80 minutes when he went for it from 40-yards. His shot had power but it was always heading wide.
Collin saved from a Sowunmi header late in the day, as the big substitute jumped high to meet a corner, and the keeper was in action again as he took a cross from Bramall into his hands to prevent any injury time drama.
Colchester - Knight-Percival (og 26), Harriott (41), Bramall (52)
Carlisle United - G Jones (28), Scougall (64)
Colchester - Ross (gk), Jackson, Bramall, Prosser (Sowunmi 80), Pell, Robinson (Nouble 76), Harriott (Lapslie 75), Eastman, Stevenson, Gambin, Poku. Subs - Coulter (gk), Brown, Clampin, Fernandes.
Carlisle United - Collin (gk) (c), Hayden, Webster, Knight-Percival, G Jones, Scougall, M Jones, Elliott (Olomola 56), Hope, Thomas (Birch 88), Loft (Bridge 68). Subs - Gray (gk), Carroll, Sagaf, Lightfoot.
Referee - Craig Hicks
Assistant Referee 1 - Conor Farrell
Assistant Referee 2 - Joseph Stokes
Fourth Official - Oliver Jackson
Attendance - 3,164 (183 away fans)