SHEFFIELD United moved to within a point of Tranmere Rovers to boost confidence ahead of Saturday’s visit of the League One leaders.
They condemned Carlisle to their seventh home defeat of the season with victory at Brunton Park and put the hosts’ chief Greg Abbott under increasing pressure even though he has been working hard to overcome a crippling injury list.
Blades chief Danny Wilson, whose side are third, a point behind Doncaster Rovers, said: “We were strong and very disciplined. I thought we got on the ball very well.
“We limited them in the first half in terms of efforts on goal and we were a threat down the sides. The strikers got down the channels really well and caused them lots of problems.”
The Blades began brightly and went ahead in the 16th minute.
Neil McDonald, restored to the visitors’ midfield following suspension, saw a good attempt scrambled away by Collin before Nick Blackman had another effort blocked.
With seconds, though, Ryan Flynn gambled at the far post and touched home Blackman’s excellent centre which had fizzed across the area.
Chris Porter cleared Jon-Paul McGovern’s corner as Carlisle looked to respond and Danny Cadamarteri tested George Long’s reactions before Blackman made it 2-0 in the 34th minute.
His finish beneath Collin’s body from an acute angle followed an exchange of passes with Flynn, after Westlake had instigated the move.
McDonald nearly left Carlisle facing an even steeper mountain to climb with a fine shot during first-half stoppage time.
McDonald limped off early in the second half to be replaced by McAllister.
Carlisle struck back in the 69th minute when Thirlwell saw a shot palmed behind for a corner. McGovern whipped in the resulting set-piece and Danny Livesey’s header reduced the deficit to give the hosts hope.
Neill Collins settled Blades’ nerves late on when the central defender turned home Michael Doyle’s goalbound shot to seal the three points for the visitors following an 85th-minute corner from Blackman.
Carlisle United: Collin, Chantler (Symington 46), Livesey, Edwards, Potts, Robson, Thirlwell, Noble, McGovern, Cadamarteri (Beck 61), Garner. Unused substitutes: Gillespie, Welsh, Loy, Todd, Gjokaj.
Sheffield United: Long, Westlake, Maguire, Collins, Hill, Blackman, McDonald (McAllister 48), Doyle, Flynn, Porter (Ironside 81), Miller. Unused substitutes: Coyne, Cofie, McFadzean, Williams, Kennedy.
Referee: G Salisbury (Lancashire).
Man of the match: Nick Blackman.