United had a long trip into Essex on Tuesday night with Colchester United the hosts, with both sides looking for a return to winning ways.
The Blues were without midfielder Callum Guy, who was preparing for the imminent birth of his second child, and that brought experienced campaigner Dean Furman into the eleven.
Brennan Dickenson was also recalled with Omari Patrick charged with making an impact from the bench.
A thick fog descended on the stadium in the minutes leading up to kick off but the officials were comfortable that all was well and that the game could go ahead as planned, despite the reduced visibility.
United were on the attack early and a foul on Riley, 28-yards out, brought an effort from Anderton which was charged down.
Kayode put a long throw into the area as the away side stayed forward and it needed two swipes from Tchamadeu to get it clear.
A cross from Anderton after he'd turned his man was put behind for a corner, and it was the captain who recovered the clearance to get it back to Dickenson. His delivery clipped Welch-Hayes and Hayden had to stretch to get his head to it. George looked on in relief as it skipped across the face of his goal.
There were loud appeals for a visiting penalty on 14 minutes when Toure toe-poked a deep cross back into the mix. The fog-blurred defender's hand appeared to get in the way but the officials showed no interest.
George had to show good hands of his own moments later when Dickenson burst through. It was on target, but the stopper parried it into the ground before scooping it up.
Carlisle keeper Paul Farman got his first taste of the action when he punched a Welch-Hayes centre from the right flank clear. It went for a corner, and Tommy Smith was up to meet that as he ran at the front stick. Farman spread himself to make a great block.
There was a full length diving save from George from a dipping, swirling Dickenson free kick from the edge of the box as the away side continued to look the more likely, and more good football followed when Anderton sent Riley on the overlap. His cut back was put behind, and a run of corners followed.
A great chance was crafted as Furman recovered a long pass, inviting Riley to cross. Kayode jumped to meet it but his glancing header dropped past the angle of post and bar.
The Cumbrians knocked on the door again when Kayode slid a pass to Mellish, who was inside the area. His punt was going in until Tchamadeu hung out an arm. Another loud appeal went up for a penalty, but a corner was the end result.
Dickenson whipped that one in, and Jon Mellish bagged goal number 13 of his season with a thundering, crunching smash that left Shamal George with no chance.
The orange shirts looked composed with their lead, and they were close again when a Kayode throw was only cleared as far as Furman, who had lurked on the 18-yard line. His return header towards the top corner was plucked out of the air by the keeper's hands.
Colchester had a late flurry of crosses ahead of the break but they were almost caught on the counter when Carlisle hunted in packs. Riley picked it up and his through ball was perfect for Dickenson, who bore down on the target with an angled run. A powerful effort was unleashed but it whisked past the upright.
Carlisle turned possession over at the start of the second half and they were on the front foot as Tanner and Riley pushed on. Kayode asked for it, and he looked to put Dickenson through. Anderton was there to help and he exchanged passes before a deep delivery evaded Toure.
A pull on Toure brought another dangerous free kick situation for Carlisle as they camped forward but Riley's 25-yarder was charged down.
The positive start to the second period appeared to be rewarded on 53 minutes when Kayode was upended in the area by a rash challenge from Sowunmi. The referee pointed to the spot, but he changed his mind after a consultation with his assistant.
A corner was awarded instead, and George blocked a downward header from Mellish as he looked to double the tally. A follow up shot was also blocked, and Colchester lived to breathe again.
United tore through again moments later when Dickenson was fed by Kayode. He bent his run and was disappointed to see his right-footed effort drift away.
Joe Riley was the recipient of a neat ball over the top and he had options as he took it under his control. He tried to place a curler but George was there to gather.
The orange shirts thought they'd done it again when a lovely move saw them slice their way through down the right wing. An intelligent pull back after good work from Kayode and Tanner saw Riley shoot from 19-yards but it smacked the base of the post, with the keeper having touched it on the dive.
A penalty was given at the other end when Nouble was fouled by Furman. Harriott levelled the scores from the spot via the inside of the post.
Home tails were lifted and Smith headed over from eight yards when Brown put the ball into the mix.
Colchester took the lead as the ball was worked from right to left, with Smith involved again as he played the pass on. Harriott let fly from distance and Farman could do nothing, despite getting a touch.
Toure blazed over after dropping a shoulder as the visitors looked to regain ground. Cedwyn Scott was on for his first appearance for the club with just over 10 minutes to go, with Omari Patrick also taking to the field.
A cross from the right from Riley found Dickenson on the sprint, but he couldn't keep it down as he got in front of his man to volley over the bar.
Colchester were handed a second penalty from absolutely nothing with just over five minutes to go but, yet again, a discussion with the assistant meant the decision was overturned by the refereee. For the record, Farman made a superb save as Brown broke through, and Brown went down as he ran over the prostrate stopper.
George pulled another Dickenson stinger out of the air as he went for power late in the day, and Farman had to claw a bending effort from the outside of the boot from under the bar from Folivi as the blue shirts went on the counter.
Carlisle had the ball in the box for a prolonged period of time added on, but it wouldn't drop kindly and the hosts held on to take their victory, with the away side left to ponder once again what might have been.
Colchester United - (Harriott 67 pen, 74)
Carlisle United - Mellish (29)
Colchester United - Tchamadeu (90)
Carlisle United - Hayden (90)
Colchester United - George, Welch-Hayes (Folivi 68), Smith, Sowunmi, Oteh (Brown 68), Harriott, Chilvers, Eastman, Sarpong-Wiredu, Tchamadeu, Nouble (Cracknell 90). Subs - Coulter (gk), Doherty, Senior, Poku.
Carlisle United - Farman, Tanner, Hayden, Bennett, Anderton (c), Mellish (Scott 79), Furman, Riley, Dickenson, Kayode, Toure (Patrick 79). Subs - Norman (gk), Alessandra, McDonald, Charters, Armer.
Referee - Trevor Kettle
Assistant Referee 1 - Andrew Aylott
Assistant Referee 2 - Darren Blunden
Fourth Official - Martyn Holmes
Observer - Mick Russell
Attendance - BCD