High-flying Cambridge United were at Brunton Park on Saturday afternoon as the Blues hosted their second home game of the week.
Four changes accompanied a change in formation to a midfield diamond from the Tuesday night meeting with Orient, with George Tanner, Rod McDonald, Joe Riley and Omari Patrick in for Jack Armer, Rhys Bennett, Lewis Alessandra and Gime Toure.
There was unfortunate injury news when it was confirmed that both Brennan Dickenson and Rhys Bennett had knee problems, which will keep them out for a number of weeks.
United opted to kick towards the Warwick in the first half, as a strong breeze gusted around the stadium, and they were on the front foot as they used Patrick to overlap. His cross found Guy but a timely tackle slowed him down.
Zanzala was next to pull wide and he beat his man to deliver low. Mellish hunted but the cross smacked into the side netting. A break from midfield saw Anderton cross twice, after Zanzala had surged on, and the second curler from the left wing looked tasty until it got stuck under the striker's feet.
Carlisle kept the tempo high through the opening stages, but a quick passing move from the Abbeymen put them in space. Boateng and Hoolahan moved sharply and a cut back found Mullin on the edge of the box. He put his boot through it but Farman dived long to parry.
Hoolahan then found Boateng as the amber shirts stayed forward and his cross ripped across the face of goal. O'Neil threw himself at it but he couldn't make the connection.
The dangerous Hoolahan was involved again when he brought Knoyle into play half way inside the home half. The right back crossed on the turn but McDonald saw it off.
United looked to work it wide with Furman feeding a pass for Tanner to cross, but Taylor jumped high to clear it as Patrick angled his way to meet it.
The hosts did pull the defenders this way and that moments later when Anderton used Riley to release Mellish. A low pass was blocked, but Riley set himself with a decent first touch 28-yards out. His effort had venom but it flew just over.
A long kick from Burton had Knoyle interested as he supported the front men, and he did well to slip it to Mullin. The in-form striker pulled the trigger but Anderton planted himself to get in the way.
Mullin looked to be well offside when he controlled a ball over the top on his toe moments later, but the flag stayed down, which allowed him to have a punt. It took a huge deflection as it twisted away for a corner.
Defender George Tanner was brave as he launched himself at a bouncing ball as Ironside shaped to strike it. The whistle blew when the boot went high but a good intervention had been made.
The Blues battled their way up the right flank just before the break as Tanner and Patrick stayed patient. Riley took over with a long throw, and a weak clearance was volleyed instinctively by Patrick. It hit Zanzala in the midriff, but he was the one penalised as he was wrestled to the floor.
A touch from McDonald was needed as Knoyle flashed a pass into the box in time added on for the period, but Carlisle were on the break as they recovered the ball. Furman sent it forward to Patrick, and he dropped a shoulder before unleashing a thunderbolt. Burton got there with a two-handed dive but Zanzala couldn't get to the loose pieces.
Iredale latched onto it, and a raking pass caused a moment of hesitation as McDonald jumped, with Anderton just behind him. The touch off the centre back's head left Mullin with a run at the target and he made it 27 for the season with a missile of a rasper that sailed into the top corner.
There were just 12 seconds on the second half clock when Riley tried his luck from distance as he got onto a weak clearance. Burton pulled it into his chest after he had initially fumbled.
Substitute Gime Toure showed good influence when he and Tanner passed Patrick into space, having received a reverse ball from the big forward. A flag went up for offside before the shot could be taken.
A cross under pressure from Knoyle from Toure earned another corner for the hosts, and a half clearance fell kindly for Patrick. His rasper was blocked, as was the 23-yard follow up from Guy.
Patrick went wide to create space as the Blues kept knocking, and he stepped away from Iredale before sending it at the near post. Burton grabbed it before Mellish could move.
Captain Nick Anderton was next to test Burton as he aimed right-footed when he bent his run. The stopper took the power out of it before picking it up.
Carlisle should have been back on terms on 67 minutes when a throw from Riley was touched to Guy. His grasscutter was trapped then clipped by Mellish, and Toure suddenly had just Burton to beat, four yards out. He tried to clip it under the dive but the keeper got there with his boot.
Another block stopped Anderton from levelling, and there were loud appeals for a penalty when Alessandra moved to make the dipping ball his. His ankle appeared to be tapped, but the referee showed no interest.
Cambridge broke, but United regained possession and Patrick set off on a 70-yard sprint. He left three in his wake, and his swirler was on target, but Burton was able to shield it.
Riley had another one ricochet go wide for a corner as he bundled through, but the nome side got their deserved equaliser on 78 minutes from the resulting set piece. McDonald found a cruncher, which unfortunately cannoned off Alessandra. That brought a punch from Burton, which bounced back and forward before Alessandra kept his cool to thunder it over the line.
A burst from Zanzala saw him fizz the ball low, and Patrick appeared to be sliced by Iredale when he slid to finish it off. Yet again the referee showed no interest when voficerous claims were made for a spot kick.
Patrick had a late shot from distance, but that was charged down, and the good work done through the second period was undone when Hoolahan overlapped in time added on. He rolled the ball into space and Adam May picked his spot as he made the vital connection.
Carlisle United - Alessandra (78)
Cambridge United - Mullin (45), May (90)
Carlisle United - Hayden (24), Furman (29), Zanzala (67)
Carlisle United - Farman, Tanner, Hayden, McDonald, Anderton (c), Riley, Guy, Furman (Toure 46), Mellish (Alessandra 70), Patrick, Zanzala (Scott 89). Subs - Norman (gk), Charters, Armer, Walker.
Cambridge United - Burton, Knoyle, Iredale, Digby, Taylor (c), O'Neil (Hannant 63), Mullin (Tracey 63), Hoolahan (Dunk 90), Okedina, Ironside, Boateng (May 85). Subs - Drysdale, Knibbs.
Referee - Tom Nield
Assistant Referee 1 - Anthony Moore
Assistant Referee 2 - Peter Gooch
Fourth Official - Geoffrey Liddle
Observer - Edward Tarry
Attendance - BCD