Assistant head coach Gavin Skelton took caretaker charge of the Blues following the departure of Chris Beech last weekend, with youth coach Eric Kinder as his right hand man in the technical area.
New arrival Mark Howard was straight into the starting line-up between the posts, having agreed a short-term deal at the end of the week, and Corey Whelan moved to right back with Rod McDonald back at the heart of the defensive line.
Winger Jordan Gibson was also recalled to the eleven, with a very attack-minded middle four as Zach Clough and Lewis Alessandra headed up the forward punch.
An early shot from Dickenson was charged down as Mellish nodded a clearance from the kick-off his way, but it was Tranmere who almost drew first blood when Hawkes floated a free kick from deep into the mix. Nevitt chested it, Fowley finished it off, but the flag was up for offside.
United went on the front-foot down the left hand side with a link-up between Whelan and Gibson. Clough took the resulting corner, but it was headed clear at the front post.
The throw was taken quickly, with Guy delivering low as it came his way. Clough was onto the ricochet off Clarke in a flash and Doohan had to dive to parry it away. Dickenson recycled it, but Clough was wild with his 16-yard volley.
It was Armer's turn to overlap as the Blues came again, and he earned a corner when his cross was diverted behind. Guy rolled it to Dickenson, but he couldn't keep his 22-yarder under control.
A break from Gibson saw him carry the ball from halfway before dropping a shoulder to shoot. He scuffed it and it floated well wide.
United were temporarily down to 10 men on 19 minutes when Alessandra clashed with Davies. He needed treatment, and was quickly sent up the tunnel.
Excellent home football saw Alessandra break the lines to take a forward pass from Whelan, moments after he'd been waved back onto the pitch. Whelan burst through, and he made it to the byline before clipping it into the mix. Davies cleared before Clough could make it count.
Hawkes skewed an effort from distance onto the Warwick Road roof as things remained tight, and Howard was twice in action as the away side looked to make a mark. A punch under pressure from a Fowley cross was followed by a safe catch from a Spearing drive.
Gibson held play up to bring Clough into it at the other end, with the forward angling a run towards the box. His cross was put behind before a finish could be applied.
The Clough corner caused all kinds of problems as it took a flick at the near stick, and Mellish appeared to be barged as he put his laces through it. Clough fed Gibson, on the edge of the box, but his thunderbolt was blocked by a brave Clarke intervention.
It was end-to-end and Dacres-Cogley picked out a great cross to find Nevitt arriving in the area. The striker got his bearings completely wrong and his header turned out to help the Cumbrians with their clearance duties.
A run from the flank was followed by a shot from Hawkes ahead of the break, but Howard was comfortable as it failed to find any kind of dip.
Carlisle almost unpicked the lock again when Mellish went on the sprint down the left wing. His cross sped across the face of goal, and the return from Gibson went much the same way.
Morris had options when a quick passing move from the away side left him with just Whelan to face. He chose to shoot and the effort was ushered to safety.
There was disaster for the hosts at the start of the second half when a move down the left brought a cross from Morris. McDonald swung a boot at it to try to make the clearance but he could only look on in despair as it sliced off his shin and into the bottom corner.
Carlisle should have equalised moments later when Armer clipped a lovely pass into the mix. Gibson launched himself at it but Doohan somehow made the point-blank save.
It almost got worse on 54 minutes when Hawkes weaved his way into the area before being chopped down by Mellish. Morris placed the ball on the spot but he brought the best out of Howard, who made a fantastic save.
Caretaker boss Gavin Skelton made a double change, with Riley and Abrahams on for Whelan and Clough, and a run of corners followed as the home side looked to push on.
Midfielder Jon Mellish was a whisker away as he popped one from range just wide when he was found by Abrahams, but Callum Guy wheeled away in frustration when he skied a similar effort from a tighter angle.
There was an unbelievable moment of officiating on 66 minutes when a misplaced Tranmere backpass was pounced upon by Dickenson. He dropped to the floor, inside the area, but the free kick was given in favour of the away side.
The play moved into midfield as Tranmere battled hard to protect what they had, but Peter Clarke won a header from a free kick that was lobbed his way in what was a rare attack. Howard clutched it to his chest.
Debutant Mark Howard pulled off another good save late in the day when Fowley sprinted through, after a ricochet in the middle of the park broke his way, but United broke away with Abrahams suddenly in space. Shots from Alessandra, Abrahams and Dickenson were blocked as the yellow wall stayed in place.
A late cross from Dickenson had Gibson interested, and a run from Riley ended with a blocked shot. Abrahams was also smothered as he took one on his chest, with just about every away shirt back in the area as Tranmere fought hard to keep the three points.
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Tranmere Rovers - McDonald (48 og)
Carlisle United - Clough (37)
Tranmere Rovers - Hawkes (65), Spearing (90)
Carlisle United - Howard, Whelan (Riley 56), McDonald, M Feeney (Charters 76), Armer, Gibson, Mellish, Guy (c), Dickenson, Clough (Abrahams 56), Alessandra. Subs - Jensen (gk), Devine, Toure, Young.
Tranmere Rovers - Doohan, Dacres-Cogley, MacDonald, Davies, Morris (O'Connor 77), Spearing, McManaman (Watson 88), Hawkes (L Feeney 72), Fowley, Nevitt, Clarke (c). Subs - Murphy (gk), Knight-Percival, Maynard, Duffy.
Referee - Andrew Kitchen
Assistant Referee 1 - Darren Williams
Assistant Referee 2 - Peter Gooch
Fourth Official - Chris Isherwood
Observer - Nigel Miller
Attendance - 4,831 (899)