Despite Reds having plenty of chances to score themselves, Carlisle took the three points through a late goal headed in by Charlie Wyke.
Manager Mark Yates made four changes to the side which lost 2-1 at Northampton on Tuesday.
Gavin Tomlin was recovered from his hamstring injury and played up front with Lee Barnard.
Simon Walton, Jon Ashton, Lyle Della-Verde and Charles Dunne came in place of Lanre Oyebanjo, Shamir Fenelon, Frankie Sutherland and Adam Bond who started a three-game suspension for his sending off in midweek.
Carlisle made two changes with topscorer Jabo Ibehre and Mark Ellis being preferred to David Atkinson and Alex Gilliead who were on the bench.
Reds made a storming start to the game with Tomlin beating a defender and firing straight at keeper Mark Gillespie from 25 yards.
Moments later Tomlin was in action again, seeing another chance cleared off the goalline by defender Macauley Gillesphey.
Barnard got through for a chance on goal and from 18 yards shot wide of the left post.
The Cumbrians gradually began to get into the game and started to create some chances at the other end.
Alex McQueen had a good opportunity, but blasted into the side-netting.
Carlisle’s Danny Grainger’s corner found Mark Ellis who somehow lifted over the bar from two yards!
Play swung quickly to the Crawley end where Della-Verde shot woefully wide from 18 yards.
Jack Rose produced a great save with his feet to deny Charlie Wyke from six yards after Ibehre’s chest-down.
Yates made a substitution at half-time, bringing on striker Roarie Deacon for Tomlin and he was immediately in the thick of the action.
Rose’s long kick went over the top of the midfield and reached the on-rushing Deacon from a breakaway attack who volleyed from inside the area but the ball was kept out by Gillespie.
Sonny Bradley got knocked to the floor by Rose when he was punching clear a free-kick and had to be treated, but was able to play-on.
Edwards crossed from the right for Deacon to prod with his out-stretched foot in the six-yard box, forcing an important save by Gillespie.
Carlisle took the lead when Alex McQueen supplied Wyke who steered his header into the Crawley net.
In the last few minutes, Shamir Fenelon came on to join Deacon up front.
Fenelon set-up Deacon for a good attempt with his left foot which forced a save, before Walton’s ball into the box gave Fenelon a chance to turn and shoot which flew over the bar.
REDS: Rose, Walton, McNerney, Bradley, Edwards, Smith, Barnard, Ashton (Young 78), Tomlin (Deacon 46), Della-Verde (Fenelon 78), Dunne
SUBS: Preston, Bawling, Sutherland, Yorwerth
CARLISLE: Gillespie, Grainger, Joyce, Kennedy, Wyke, Obehre (Thompson 75), Comley, Stacey (Gillead 75), Gillesphey, Ellis, McQueen
SUBS: Miller, M.Smith, Brough, Hanford, Gillead, Thompson, Asamoah
REFEREE: Gavin Ward
ATTENDANCE: 1,940 (281 away)
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