United and Rochdale finally got to meet for the first time this season with both original fixtures having fallen foul of postponements.
The starting eleven was unchanged from Saturday with just two changes on the bench. Magnus Norman and Danny Devine were there in place of Gabe Breeze and Owen Windsor.
It was a return to Brunton Park for new manager Paul Simpson for the first time in 16 seasons with a larger than normal Tuesday night crowd caught up in the excitement of his appointment.
Former captain Peter Murphy was out on the pitch ahead of kick off as a special guest, having officially opened Murphy's Bar in the west stand, and there was an excited and expectant atmosphere that accompanied the build-up.
A tame shot from the edge of the area from Newby signalled the start of the game with the Blues kicking towards the Waterworks End in their away black kit, in support of the #NoHomeKit Shelter homeless awareness campaign.
United responded with a break from deep which saw the ball rolled forward to Patrick. He had support from Dennis, who cut inside before going for a 22-yard shot. He miscued it and it spun well wide.
There were appeals for handball as Done took a defence splitting pass on the upper chest on six minutes, and he suddenly had just Howard to beat. The keeper spread himself to make an excellent block.
A patient build-up from Dale saw Done and Dooley exchange passess as they looked to work their way forward. Newby showed once again, but his firm strike whistled past the target.
The Cumbrians carved themselves a real chance when Guy rode a challenge in midfield. Gibson and Riley picked it up, and Patrick slid a lovely pass to Dennis. He crossed low, and it was there for Devitt to hit as he reached the edge of the area. He pulled his effort and the stopper remained untroubled.
There was a set piece to defend at the other end and a deep delivery from Kelly was nodded back into the mix. Newby found space for a shot when it bobbled his way but that was immediately charged down.
There was a moment of skill from Gibson when he wasted no time at all in popping a flighted ball into the box, as the black shirts moved the ball quickly in tight spaces. Dennis stretched to head it but he couldn't get enough on it.
Lynch had to react quickly to stop a drilled cross from Gibson going into the nets moments later when he appeared to be taken by surprise. Carlisle's wide man kept it low, struck it clean, and he was ready to celebrate until a firm hand scooped it off the line.
Bravery from Morgan Feeney brought a vital block when Kelly skipped through two tackles with Rochdale always dangerous in the attack. Campbell took over, but the central defender made sure he got his body in the way.
Howard was excellent again on 22 minutes when Newby slapped a 24-yard free kick over the wall. It dipped late and it needed a fingertip touch to take it over the bar.
There was a stadium wide round of applause in memory of Grant Taylor on 22 minutes, and it couldn't have been any more touching when the Blues took the lead with their next attack.
A deep Jamie Devitt free kick caught Lynch out of position, and the ball slipped through his hands and onto the floor. Omari Patrick made it five for the season when he thundered it into the roof of the net from close range.
Patrick was the width of the woodwork away from doubling his tally when tenacity in midfield brought a turnover in possession in favour of the Blues. Dennis had options, and he popped a lovely through ball to the in-form winger. Lynch was beaten but his measured shot clipped the outside of the upright.
There was a double-header of corners to defend as Dale came again but Feeney, Simeu and Devitt were there to carry out important defensive duties.
United looked composed through the remainder of the half, and they received a very appreciative round of applause as they headed up the tunnel.
The second half took a while to get going, but Howard had to keep his eye on a toe punt from O'Connell when he let fly on 50 minutes. It was accurate, but the gloves were sticky.
A surge from Mellish when he anticipated a pass earned the home side a free kick, but Ball cleared to spark an away attack. Feeney was as far as that got as he made another good block.
Campbell sent a fizzed shot past the angle of post and bar as Dale tried to find clear route, but Carlisle countered with a piercing run from Patrick.
That was followed by an overlap from Armer and his cross found Gibson unmarked. Parked on the penalty spot he threw a boot at it, but it angled high and into the Warwick.
Howard was at his best again when Done latched onto an accurate pass from Newby. It opened up, he kept it low, but the keeper bided his time before leaping to parry.
It was intense stuff from both teams, and Gibson threaded a great pass for Patrick to hunt. His low cross was cut out by the keeper as Dennis waited.
The hosts were gifted a chance on 67 minutes when a loose pass was snapped up by Gibson. He came under immediate pressure and he screwed his shot wide as he thundered into the box.
Rochdale won a free kick right on the 18-yard line when Mellish caught Dooley as he tried to make a clearance, but the wall stood strong when Kelly rattled it their way.
Dale threw men forward but there was some excellent defending as the hosts protected their final third. Riley, Feeney and Mellish intervened, as did Whelan and Armer when high balls came their way.
Howard was superb on 86 minutes when Grant sprinted through with just him to beat. The substitute aimed for the bottom corner but the diving one-handed touch was immaculate.
United weathered the late push from the visitors and they won the game in the best way possible when Mellish mopped up an attack inside his own area. He sent it long, and Tobi Sho-Silva did the rest as he held off his marker, carried the ball forward and expertly wrapped up the points with the calmest and most accurate of finishes.
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Carlisle United - Patrick (25), Sho-Silva (89)
Carlisle United - Gibson (79), Armer (88)
Carlisle United - Howard, Riley, Simeu, Feeney, Mellish, Armer, Gibson, Guy (c) (Whelan 75), Devitt (Devine 68), Patrick, Dennis (Sho-Silva 72). Subs - Norman (gk), Alessandra, Roberts, Omotoye.
Rochdale - Lynch, O'Connell (c), Dooley, Ball, Newby (Charman 72), Dorsett, Keohane, Done (Grant 63), Kelly, Clark (O'Keefe 63), Campbell. Subs - Coleman (gk), McNulty, Broadbent, Odoh.
Referee - Marc Edwards
Assistant Referee 1 - Darren Williams
Assistant Referee 2 - Graeme Fyvie
Fourth Official - Simon Clayton
Observer - Brian Parry
Attendance - 5,360 (280)