IN recent weeks, Accrington Stanley have been the comeback kings.
They have bounced back against Halifax and Forest Green to draw in the league and came back from 2-0 down against Northwich to reach the Northern Final of the GLS Conference Cup.
So the Reds fans were quietly confident when Ged Brannan stepped up to take Stanley's 42nd minute penalty as Stanley looked to extend their unbeaten run to 11 games.
But United keeper Keiren Westwood superbly pushed it out and this time, there was no comeback for the Reds.
And the defeat was even harder to take as victory for play-off rivals Carlisle flung United back into the promotion picture - and knocked Stanley down the league.
"The penalty was the turning point," bemoaned manager John Coleman. "I think if we had scored that we would have gone on to win the game. Ged is disappointed as he feels you shouldn't miss penalties but it was a good save although it was a good height for the keeper.
"We were miles on top at that time and it would have been just reward. We probably shaded the first half and they shaded the second, but when they went two goals up it got their tails up."
Carlisle had only recently returned to Brunton Park after the floods there and the destruction was evident in the bordered up houses all around the ground.
And it was United who initially swept Stanley away with an early shock.
Kevin Gray beat the off-side trap and found Derek Holmes who's left foot shot from a tight angle smashed into the top corner of the net with just six minutes on the clock. It was Holmes' first goal for Carlisle and a stunner - if he meant it.
"It was the first time they had ventured into our half," said Coleman. "We thought it had been a foul on Lee McEvilly earlier or it was off-side but it wasn't to be. Goals change games and it was a fluke - a mis-hit shot/cross which has gone in."
And that earlier tackle on McEvilly came back to haunt the Reds as, on 19 minutes, he hobbled off injured with a groin strain unable to carry on.
In an ideal world, Coleman would have been able to put on new striker David Brown, who he signed from Hereford - but the registration hadn't gone through and Coleman had to change his system and go 4-4-1-1 with Ian Craney filling in just behind lone striker Paul Mullin.
Stanley still had a couple of chances with Rory Prendergast testing Westwood with a free kick and Steve Flitcroft's weak shot easy for the Carlisle goalie.
But the home side were the livelier in front of goal. Gray was a threat and one ball in bobbled around the area with Mike Flynn having to dive in to save the day.
Former Bury midfielder Chris Billy fired just over Paul Crichton's goal while the Reds keeper lost the ball but managed to recover to stop top scorer Karl Hawley pouncing on it.
Then came the turning point when Flynn's header was judged to have hit the hand of Carlisle's Chris Lumsdon. The referee had no hesitation in pointing to the spot and Brannan, with three out of three penalties this season, stepped up to take it. He fired it to the goalie's right and Westwood got two hands to agonisingly push it away to safety.
And Carlisle could have hurt Stanley more before the break but Holmes' header from a corner was easy for Crichton and Hawley turned and shot but Robbie Williams was there to block the effort.
Coleman's half-time team talks in recent weeks have proved an inspiration and the visitors came out pressing in the early stages of the half without testing Westwood.
But then it fell apart when sub Magno Vieira sent through Hawley with the Stanley defence all caught flat-footed and his shot hit the inside of the post and bounced into the net for the two goal cushion.
Mullin had a back header which was easy for Westwood while Carlisle continued to be the more threatening with Hawley almost creating a third. He persisted in the area and the ball came out to Vieira who only had Crichton to beat but the Stanley keeper produced a strong one-handed save to deny the Brazilian.
Coleman brought on Matty O'Neill on the wing and Jonathan Smith up front as they chased the game but the home side still carved out the openings.
On 78 minutes, Peter Murphy took the ball off Peter Cavanagh and raced forward but shot just over while Williams denied Vieira by taking it off his foot as he lined up to shoot. A 20-yard Hawley drive was over the crossbar as there was to be no late rally for the Reds.
"It is hard to take," added the boss. "We had a great chance to get back in the game but missed the penalty and then we started the second half like the first half and camped in their half but they have scored with their first attack of the second half.
"We will play a lot worse than that and lose this season. We have just got to keep our heads up and believe in ourselves.
"We are a better side than people will give us credit for because of that result, and sometimes you don't get what you deserve. We didn't here.
"But, at 2-0, the game drifted away from us and I have no complaints.
"It is a set back but I am sure we will bounce back. Carlisle are cock-a-hoop because they have won but if you look at our last 11 games we have lost one and they have lost two out of 11 - so we should be the happier at the moment."