United had fans in attendance at a Salford away game for the first time and close to one thousand of the Blue Army made the trip to roar on the Blues.
With the transfer window closed there was a place on the bench for Birmingham loanee Mitchell Roberts, with the other deadline day arrivals missing out through late registration.
Lewis Alessandra and Jordan Gibson were back into the starting line-up, with Tyrese Omotoye and Corey Whelan shifted to the bench. The side was otherwise unchanged from the Saturday home game against Sutton.
United were let off the hook with just 40 seconds on the clock when Thomas-Asante was picked out with a whipped through ball. His control set up a shot, but Howard was down smartly to parry. Matt Smith snapped up the rebound, but he somehow put his bounced volley over the bar from just 12-yards out when it looked easier to score.
Salford came again when Hunter found space, and he cut it back for the delivery to be made. The cross was whisked low. but Thomas-Asante pushed McDonald and the whistle blew.
There was a defensive blow for the Blues with just nine minutes on the clock when Rod McDonald indicated that he was struggling following an earlier collision. Morgan Feeney came on to replace the centre back at the heart of the back line.
United had a real chance on 14 minutes when Alessandra beat the offside trap. He carried the ball into the box, checked, then fed it back to Patrick, who was all alone on the penalty spot. Turnbull did well to throw his body in the way of the target-bound attempt.
Simeu showed great strength to hold off Thomas-Asante when a flick rolled their way at the other end, but the follow-up from Hunter hit Senior and swirled wide.
A poor clearance from king sparked a Carlisle attack when Gibson nodded it to Patrick, He let one go from 23-yards but it was blocked, and Gibson regained the ricochet. Senior overlapped and crossed low, but it was eventually cleared as the red shirts closed the gaps.
More good work from Gibson brought a corner as he beat his marker, but Eastham connected with the inswinger as Mellish challenged.
Another neat piece of visiting play saw Guy spread the ball to Armer. Gibson was in acres of space, and he clipped a floater at Mellish as he sprinted into the box.
There was concern for Joel Senior when he stayed on the floor after he'd stuck out a leg to stop Thomas-Asante, and a stretcher was needed to take him from the pitch. Corey Whelan was quickly changed and off the bench.
It was frantic in the United box on 35 minutes when a mix-up and a hint of hesitation meant that a loose ball was poked by Thomas-Asante towards the nets. Howard saved, but it bobbled free and the same player had what appeared to be an empty net to aim at. Feeney was alert, and his bravery prevented a certain goal as he got himself in the way.
The ball was still alive, and Smith thundered it through bodies from the edge of the area. Howard went full length to fist it away, but Hunter was next to have a bash. |He lost his bearings and the ball spun towards the corner flag.
Carlisle had to deal with a flurry of corners ahead of the break, but Feeney and Alessandra were in the right place at the right time to deal with them.
There was a third injury blow for the away team on the stroke of half-time when Callum Guy fell heavily to the floor. Joe Riley ran onto the pitch to replace him - accompanied by a huge roar from the travelling supporters.
Mellish had a volley charged down in the sixth minute of time added for the half, but it was honours even as the combatants headed down the tunnel.
It was a tentative start to the second period from both teams, but a clip over the top to Patrick had him on a run. He kept it in, and a pass across the face of goal was angling at Alessandra until Eastham intervened.
There was disaster on 51 minutes when a volley from Shephard skipped off the surface after Howard had punched a dipping clearance off Smith's head. Mellish was judged to have handled it, and the referee immediately pointed at the spot. Ryan Watson put power behind the kick to rifle it home.
Feeney was in the way again to stop a thunderbolt from Watson from 20-yards after Whelan had cleaared a Hunter delivery. The defender fell low to make the interception.
A Hunter free kick was deflected over by the wall after Feeney had been booked for tugging Thomas-Asante, but the centre back was there again to swipe a clearance after Smith had nodded a header down into the six-yard box.
Carlisle were back on level terms on 67 minutes when they broke with pace and power down the right flank. Alessandra was deft with a touch that found Gibson, and he showed a clean pair of heels as he bent his run. An inch perfect cross had Omari Patrick interested, and he made no mistake as he stabbed it over the line to send the fans behind the nets wild.
But the joy was short-lived when a low clearance from Dickenson went straight to a red shirt just four minutes later. It was moved swiftly to the right wing, and Matt Smith guided a header into the bottom from close range when he got on the end of the dipping delivery.
A rapier of a volley from Ndaba from the angle of the 18-yard area tickled the bar as it zipped just over for the hosts, but it was United who felt aggrieved when Feeney appeared to be pulled to the floor as he tried to get on the end of a Riley free kick. The referee ignored the very loud penalty appeals.
Salford City - Watson (52 pen), Smith (71)
Carlisle United - Patrick (67)
Carlisle United - Feeney (62), Riley (82)
Salford City - King, Lowe, Eastham (c), Ndaba, Watson, Hunter (Loughlan 90), Turnbull, Kelly (Lund 90), Smith, Shephard, Thomas-Asante (McAleny 86). Subs - Torrance (gk), Golden, Vassell.
Carlisle United - Howard, Senior (Whelan 30), McDonald (Feeney 10), Simeu, Armer, Gibson, Guy (c) (Riley 45), Mellish, Dickenson, Patrick, Alessandra. Subs - Norman (gk), Fishburn, Roberts, Omotoye.
Referee - Simon Mather
Assistant Referee 1 - Paul Stonier
Assistant Referee 2 - Lewis Raper
Fourth Official - Christopher Ward
Observer - Mark Haywood
Attendance - 2,059 (958)