It was one of the longest trips of the season for the Blues on Saturday as they headed into Kent for their away day meeting with Gillingham.
And it was an afternoon of disappointment for the travelling contingent as they misfired and eventually succumbed to a last minute sucker punch when Shaun Williams pounced to notch an injury time winner.
The first half had little incident of note, with MacDonald stopped by Barclay at one and and Senior by Alexander at the other as they both tried to cross.
Garner stumbled when he was almost sent clear by Patrick as the nets remained untroubled, but Holy had to react quickly when a low corner somehow made its way through to the back stick. He stuck a boot out to deal with it, and was then up on a leap to gather it in.
It was a tale of good positions leading to nothing much to report, but MacDonald had his head in his hands when he flashed one past the upright as he angled his run to let one fly.
The half ended with a miscued effort from Patrick that bent well wide.
The Gills came out of the blocks with a sense of purpose after the break but Nichols was wild with a shot that rose much too high.
Nichols was active again with a drop of the shoulder and a delivery, but Holy grasped it after Dieng looked to find a way through.
United pressed after a free kick from Moxon was half cleared. Patrick was available, and he clipped it into the area with plenty of away shirts forward. Barclay had half a shout for a penalty as he tumbled after his volley took a deflection.
Substitute Kris Dennis unleashed a thunderbolt as he dropped a shoulder after Edmondson had fed it through, but Morris got both hands to it to beat it away.
Chances remained few and far between until the hosts nicked it with the last attack of the game. Abrahams challenged for a low cross and Williams couldn't believe his luck as he was left completely unmarked to deal with the rebound. His raking volley left Holy with no chance as thundered into the roof of the target.
Gillingham - Williams (90)
Gillingham - MacDonald (46), Hawkins (75)
Carlisle United - Garner (46), Moxon (58), Barclay (88), Feeney (90), Dennis (90)
Gillingham - Morris, Alexander, Ehmer, Williams (c), MacDonald (Lapslie 73), McKenzie, Nichols (Abrahams 84), Masterson, Hawkins (Wright 90+5), Dieng, O'Brien (Jeffries 73). Subs - Holtam (gk), Tutonda, Coleman.
Carlisle United - Holy, Barclay, Feeney (c), Mellish, Senior (Dennis 78), Guy, Moxon, Armer, Gordon (Edmondson 56), Garner (Gibson 56), Patrick (Robinson 78). Subs - Kelly (gk), Whelan, McCalmont.
Referee - Charles Breakspear
Assistant Referee 1 - Adrian Waters
Assistant Referee 2 - Carl Fitch-Jackson
Fourth Official - James Bell
Observer - Kelvin Morton
Attendance - 6,110 (475)