United were at Sixfields on Saturday afternoon to face hard-to-beat Northampton Town in their second away game of the New Year.
Teenager Liam McCarron made his first ever league start as he came in for Ashley Nadesan, who had returned to parent club Fleetwood Town at the end of his half season loan spell earlier in the week.
The Blues were looking to equal a club record of seven consecutive league victories, but it was the home side who attacked first with a run of two quickfire corners. Liddle and Parkes were at the heart of the defending for those, and a wayward volley from Andy Williams brought a close to the early spell of pressure.
United repsonded with a slick move from a Grainger throw which saw Devitt find Sowerby in space. He slid the ball past the back line for Hope to chase, but Cornell was off his line quickly to gather it up.
Northampton were denied the lead by excellent defending from Gerrard when Hoskins cut inside Gillesphey tight by the byline. The reverse ball into the area was met on the full by Williams but Gerrard somehow got there to make the block. Williams tried to recover the loose ball but blue shirts were back to deal with the danger.
Carlisle were awarded a free kick on the right hand angle of the area as they got forward in numbers and Cornell had to watch closely as a dipping effort from Grainger came at him as it beat the wall.
Bridge was a whisker away with a rifled set piece from distance at the other end, but Collin seemed comfortable as he dived long to watch the ball go wide.
A direct run from McCarron earned his side a corner, as the action ebbed and flowed, but McWilliams cleaned that up at the near post as it curled low and fast.
Hope caused problems when he dropped a shoulder and cut inside two defenders. His shot had venom but it was deflected behind to safety.
There was plenty going on, and a great cross from Facey needed a near post runner, but Parkes got there first to make the clearance. The resulting corner was met by Andy Williams but he couldn't keep his header down.
Carlisle showed their ability to break with meaning on 25 minutes when a Northampton corner was charged down on the edge of their own area. McCarron took a touch and released Sowerby, and he carried it from defence to attack with Hope in support. He was closed down quickly and his shot, when it came, was right at the keeper.
Both sides were then presented with one-on-one opportunities within seconds of each other as the game remained wide open. The Cobblers went first when a huge ball forward was controlled by Andy Williams. He tried to pick his spot early, with a crisp shot from long range, but Collin jumped high to make an excellent two-handed save.
Carlisle moved the ball quickly from the rebound and Hope was suddenly in the clear at the other end. He drew the keeper off his line but was disappointed to see his toe poke bobble the wrong side of the upright.
The Cumbrians came again with more one-touch football just outside the opposition box and Devitt bided his time before rolling it across for Sowerby to shoot. It was an excellent connection but it fizzed past the post as the midfielder placed his head in his hands in frustration.
Cox popped a 25-yard free kick over the bar as the action refused to abate, and Sowerby and Hope crunched volleys at Cornell after good positions had been worked.
Devitt was denied a top corner finish moments before the break when a deep cross was nodded down by Grainger. A thundering volley caught the keeper on his heels but he did well to throw a hand up and beat it away. The follow up from Grainger was also net bound until Facey got himself in the way.
The home side had the lead just three minutes into the second half when Carlisle allowed a low cross from the right to bounce across their area. An initial connection was blocked, but the loose ball sat up nicely for Jack Bridge. He made no mistake with a thundering effort from just 10 yards out.
Home tails were up, and they stayed forward with Facey and Bridge trying to add to the tally, but solid blocks were the order of the day. And Carlisle had a good chance of their own when a Devitt free kick found its way to the back stick. Gerrard and Parkes battled, and the ball came off both and looped over the target.
A moment of skill from Hoskins sent him on a run just before the hour when he spun away from Parkes midway inside the Carlisle half. He bore down on goal and he thought he'd done enough until fingertips from Collin diverted it beyond the far post.
The home lead was doubled on 62 minutes when Bridge rounded off a very good move with a volley from a tight angle into the bottom corner.
New arrival Connor Simpson had his first chance in a blue shirt when Devitt curled a cross into the box. He threw himself at it to make the connection and his header whisked past the angle of post and bar.
It was over as a contest on 73 minutes when substitute Junior Morias was played through by another precise pass. Collin had no chance as the nippy forward slotted the ball through his legs.
Bennett headed over from another teasing Devitt delivery as United tried to get something from the game, and Simpson guided a volley over when Bennett cut the ball back for him to strike late in the day.
Northampton Town - Bridge (48, 62), Morias (73)
Northampton Town - McWilliams (55)
Carlisle United - Etuhu (32), Hope (77)
Northampton Town - Cornell, Facey, Hoskins (Morias 63), Foley, A Williams (Powell 63), Cox (Buchanan 75), Pierre, McWilliams, Turnbull, Bridge, J Williams. Subs - Odoffin, Bowditch, Roberts, Coddington.
Carlisle United - Collin, Liddle, Gerrard, Parkes, Gillesphey (Bennett 74), Grainger, Sowerby, Devitt, Etuhu, McCarron (Simpson 63), Hope (Slater 90). Subs - Gray, Miller, Kennedy, Jones.
Referee - Mr Lee Swabey
Attendance - 4,875 (484 away fans)