Former Carlisle striker Jabo Ibehre denied the Cumbrians a vital win to boost their play-off hopes when he grabbed a second-half equaliser for Cambridge United in a 2-2 Sky Bet League Two draw.
Rushian Hepburn-Murphy had given Cambridge an early lead that was cancelled out by goals from Jamie Devitt and Nathan Thomas before the break.
Ibehre, though, notched the only goal of a second half in which both sides had chances to claim all three points.
It took Cambridge just three minutes to open the scoring as Jevani Brown skilfully slid the ball through to Hepburn-Murphy, who judged the angle perfectly to beat Adam Collin with a low shot that flew across the goalkeeper and in at the left-hand post.
Cambridge were comfortable in possession in the early exchanges, but visiting goalkeeper Dimitar Mitov twice came to his side’s aid with fine saves as Carlisle fought to get a foothold in the game.
Mitov parried a 20-yard drive by Mike Jones then moments later was back in action to turn Callum O’Hare’s effort over the bar.
The Carlisle equaliser finally arrived in the 37th minute when O’Hare fed the ball inside to Devitt who lashed an unstoppable right-foot shot past Mitov from the edge of the box.
Brown almost sneaked in for a second Cambridge goal, only for Carlisle to go in at the break a goal up when O’Hare again provided the assist for Thomas to cut into the area and fire home from 15 yards.
Although Ibehre was denied by a last ditch save from Collin, he made another chance count in the 68th minute when he was sent clear by Brown, allowing him to slip the ball past the home goalkeeper from close range.
The game remained in the balance to the end, with Hallam Hope hitting the Cambridge woodwork and Collin making a last-minute save as Hayden Coulson was through.