United were at the Stadium of Light for their fourth friendly of the summer on Tuesday afternoon as Storm Francis reared its ugly head with a display of heavy rain and strong winds in the lead up to kick off.
This won't be the only visit to the home of the Black Cats for the Blues this season, with another trip to the north east scheduled for the EFL Trophy group game in October.
As has been the theme for all of United's friendlies so far, this was another game played at a high tempo and in good spirit, with both teams looking to make their mark.
The early pressure belonged to Carlisle and determination in midfield was rewarded when Mellish pulled off his man to ask for the ball. A raking 22-yard shot struck Willis before it spun away to safety.
Sunderland responded with a slick move down the right flank which released McLaughlin on the overlap. His cut back found Grigg, but Hayden dived in to stop the shot. Gooch recovered the loose ball and his lobbed delivery found McLaughlin unmarked and just eight yards out. A downward header was goal bound but Farman spread himself to make a stunning save.
It was a good spell for the hosts and another teasing cross was cleared as Grigg lurked. Scowen tried to drill it through bodies and the rebound sat up nicely for Flanagan. He let one go on the volley but it sailed high and wide.
Striker Gavin Reilly looked lively for the visitors as he put himself about, and a lovely reverse pass from Alessandra sent him into the area with Power in close pursuit. Reilly twisted to pull the ball back, and Willis reacted quickly to prevent Toure from finishing it off.
Both teams defended well as the game ebbed and flowed, and Carlisle went close again when Anderton worked his way through two challenges. His cross found Reilly on the run, but Feeney got enough on it to help it on its way as the Black Cats cleared their lines.
Pace from Toure provided a glimpse of what he can bring to the team as he burst past an outstretched leg then completed a stepover to make room for a pass.
Sunderland attacked in numbers when they regained possession and Scowen tried his luck with an effort from distance. Farman looked comfortable as it bulged the side netting.
There's an old saying that goes something along the lines of 'if you don't buy a ticket you'll never win the lottery' and that was exactly the case when the Blues took the lead early in the second period.
Toure did well under pressure to keep the ball, Mellish split the defence open with the neatest of touches, and Alessandra dropped his shoulder with a shot that skipped wickedly off the greasy surface. Matthews could only watch in horror as it spilled from his hands and dropped over the line.
United had a great chance to double their lead on the hour mark when Alessandra peeled away with the ball at his feet, half way inside the Sunderland half. A deft touch put Reilly through, but Matthews atoned for his earlier error as he made a vital save with his legs.
The Black Cats switched ten of their team on 61 minutes, and Farman immediately had to dive low to save a grasscutter from Hume. Maguire was next to try his luck, but Farman went long to make a two-handed parry. The ball was quickly recovered and former-Blue Charlie Wyke struck from close range to level the scores as it was played into his marauding path.
And Sunderland edged in front with 20 minutes left to play when a lightning quick break from midfield caught the Cumbrians light at the back. Maguire was able to time his run to meet the sprint from the left which gifted him a simple tap in.
The lively Maguire went close again when he dragged a shot on the run just wide of the post, and Carlisle will feel they could have done better when Hayden won a header from an Anderton free kick.
Leadbitter soun to clear it as Guy closed the space down, and Tanner found himself in acres of space when a pass was rattled is way. His cross ripped across the face of goal, but it evaded lunges from Alessandra and Kayode by a whisker.
Up at the other end and a volley from Neil smashed the upright as he arrived late for a deep delivery. The danger hadn't passed though as Wyke snapped up the loose pieces. He kept his composure to twist past a challenge before dinking it into the net.
United turned defence into attack with a bright attack which saw Birch break clear. He was helped by Anderton, and Kayode kept his balance to help it on. O'Nien got a toe in the way, but Mellish was forward and he let fly, which sent Patterson scrambling. The keeper was relieved to see it bend just past the upright.
Sunderland - Wyke (64, 80), Maguire (70)
Carlisle United - Alessandra (52)
Sunderland - Matthews, McLaughlin, Flanagan, Willis, Feeney, Power, Diamond, Scowen, Grigg, O'Brien, Gooch. Subs - Patterson, Hume, Wyke, Dobson, Maguire, Leadbitter, O'Nien, Wright, Hackett, Taylor, Neil.
*** all Sunderland subs took to the field of play on 61 minutes (Flanagan remained on from the original starting eleven ***
Carlisle United - Farman, Riley (Tanner 46), Hayden, Hunt, Anderton (c), Mellish, Devine, Guy (Kayode 46), Alessandra, Brennan (Toure 25), Reilly (Birch 80). Subs - Robinson, Armstrong.
Referee - Mr G Eltringham
Attendance - BCD