United went into their Tuesday home game with five changes from the weekend away trip to Morecambe as they embarked on the search for a return to winning ways.
Jack Armer, Rhys Bennett, Taylor Charters, Brennan Dickenson and Callum Guy all stepped up, with Nick Anderton, Dean Furman, Josh Kayode, Jon Mellish and George Tanner replaced in the eleven.
United had a 4-1-4-1 starting formation with Guy as an anchor in midfield and Alessandra leading the line.
The Blues made the first chance of the night as they attacked the Waterworks End when Charters pulled wide to chase the ball. His cross was excellent but Patrick couldn't quite get there as he challenged beside Menayesse.
Grimsby responded with a cross from Morais that was blocked for a corner, and there was a real scare as the inswinger came in from Habergham. Farman was impeded by Menayesse and the assistant flagged for a foul as it hit the beck of the net.
Habergham won his side another corner on 10 minutes when he had a cross charged down, and John-Lewis looked to get a touch when he threw himself at it. McDonald stood tall and the clearance was made.
United worked a way down the right with Alessandra and Riley exchanging passes, and a high delivery was completely missed by Eastwood. Dickenson got his head to it but it bounced well wide.
The Mariners took the lead on 16 minutes when Lamy found space to cross from the left flank. Lenell John-Lewis made an angled run and he made no mistake with a 10-yard header that flashed into the bottom corner.
Grimsby were buoyed by the goal and the blue back line had to concentrate as Hanson was targeted to hold the ball up.
A deep free kick from the halfway line was met by Menayesse in what was a good away spell but his connection lacked power and Farman gathered it in.
Carlisle looked to pick up the pace and a long throw from Dickenson just past the half hour was touched on by Hayden as he made it his to meet at the front post. Patrick took the clip on the volley but an outstretched boot squeezed the sting out of it and it fell kindly for the keeper.
Joe Riley then cushioned the ball out of the air as a half clearance came his way, 22-yards out, and he controlled a stinging drive that whistled through bodies. Eastwood was well-placed once again to make the save.
Striker Omari Patrick showed skill in time added on for the half when he beat two before sending a delivery long. Dickenson spun on it as he turned away from his man and he put it back to Patrick, who crossed once again. Dickenson was on his heels as the ball skipped off the surface and made its way behind to safety.
The Blues won a corner at the beginning of the second period when Alessandra shielded a high ball on the edge of the area. Charters took over, and his run eventually brought a shot from Armer which was deflected behind. Guy sent the set piece deep but the header back across the face of goal from Hayden fell just the wrong side of the target.
A high ball forward at the other end bounced nicely for John-Lewis to strike and he fizzed a powerful shot low as he spun to get on it. He had his head in his hands as it shaved the outside of the post.
Carlisle won a free kick when Hayden was toppled 25-yards out but Dickenson's piledriver struck the wall. Riley's follow up suffered a similar fate, and the move came to an end when Armer's cross went too far.
The hosts probed, without managing to find a way through, and they suffered an injury blow when Hayden went to ground. Nick Anderton was immediately on to replace him.
A dipping Guy corner deserved better but Zanzala was under pressure when he jumped to meet it. His header angled the wrong way and Matete completed the clearance.
Grimsby had a moment when Clifton overlapped on the right wing, but Armer was there to calm things down. John-Lewis hooked a volley wide when it came back his way.
A run from Matete followed as he robbed possession on the halfway line, but Bennett got in the way as he pulled the trigger.
Substitute Ethan Walker showed great skill to pick a path at the other end, and there was relief for Hendrie when Eastwood dived to pick up his wayward intervention.
A real chance to equalise came in the first minute of added time when Armer rattled a ball into the mix. Eastwood saved the point-blank header from Dickenson and the midfielder somehow swept the parry wide of the mark from very close range.
But the home side got their goal when McDonald centred after a half clearance came his way. Ozzy Zanzala was there to rifle it into the roof of the net as he bagged his first goal for the club.
Carlisle United - Zanzala (90)
Grimsby Town - John-Lewis (16)
Carlisle United - Hayden (31)
Grimsby Town - Coke (55)
Carlisle United - Farman, Hayden (c) (Anderton 68), McDonald, Bennett, Armer, Patrick (Walker 80), Riley (Mellish 80), Guy, Charters (Zanzala 64), Dickenson, Alessandra. Subs - Norman (gk), Furman, Toure.
Grimsby Town - Eastwood, Hendrie, Coke, Hanson, Morais (Waterfall 90), Matete, John-Lewis (Green 90), Hewitt, Menayesse, Habergham (Bunney 46), Lamy (Clifton 72). Subs - McKeown (gk), Payne, Adams.
Referee - Christopher Sarginson
Assistant Referee 1 - Ivan Stankovic
Assistant Referee 2 - Graeme Fyvie
Fourth Official - Paul Marsden
Observer - Edward Tarry
Attendance - BCD