Reds made a fruitless raid on border country as Carlisle recorded their first win over Crawley in the fifth League meeting between the teams.
The hosts conceded goals in the first five minutes of either half, having got back into the game at 2-1 thanks to Rhys Murphy’s seventh of the season in the 34th minute.
But Charlie Wyke’s first-half brace and Jabo Ibehre’s tap in early in the second half were deserved reward for the home side, who caused Crawley lots of problems particularly down their right through the precocious Alex Gilliead who helped create two of the goals.
Reds had their best spell after Murphy’s far post header but didn’t really look like getting back into the contest once Carlisle had made it 3-1 and could pin the visitors back with a strong wind and driving rain behind them.
There was one change in the line-up from the team beaten by Northampton on Tuesday. Josh Emmanuel, who joined the Reds on loan from Ipswich on Thursday, made his debut at right back. Lewis Young was pushed into midfield with Roarie Deacon dropping to the bench.
The Carlisle subs included midfielder Gary Dicker, who had a spell with Reds in 2013.
Conditions could not have been worse with rain and a strong wind blowing down Brunton Park.
Not that kicking into them bothered Carlisle, who went in front after two minutes. Wide man Gilliead, who is on loan from Newcastle, provided a superb near post cross from the left and Wyke got in front of Sonny Bradley to head powerfully past Daryl Flahavan.
It was the perfect start for the hosts who should have stretched their lead well before Wyke got his second.
Gillead was the creator again in the 11th minute when defender Michael Raynes met his inswinging free kick from the left with a header which was on target but deflected over the bar for a corner.
Four minutes later Wyke bustled too easily through the centre of Reds’ defence but Flahavan made a superb save at the expense of a corner which Mark Ellis headed narrowly wide.
Ibehre missed a great chance on 20 minutes, heading wide from six yards after a free-kick routine had seen Danny Grainger’s dinked cross give the striker a great chance which he squandered.
Crawley were struggling to get a grip on the game and it was no surprise when Carlisle doubled their lead in the 28th minute. Jason Kennedy had time to flick Gillead’s corner into the path of Wyke, who gave Flahavan no chance with his close-range, right-foot shot.
At that stage it looked like being a long afternoon for Reds but they got their way back into the game on 34 minutes. Matt Harrold spread the play with a pass to Young, whose excellent cross from the left was perfect for Murphy to cushion his header into the roof of the net at the far post.
And Reds had two great free-kick positions before the break, both of which they squandered. Simon Walton at least forced Mark Gillespie to push his effort from 30 yards out for a corner but the less said about Jimmy Smith’s effort from inside the D in stoppage time the better. The midfielder went for power but the ball was still on its upward trajectory out of the ground as the referee blew for half-time.
If the start to the first half was bad, the beginning of the second period wasn’t any better for the visitors. Carlisle restored their two-goal lead in the 49th minute when Luke Joyce’s cross from the right found its way to Ibehre at the far post and the striker couldn’t miss from a couple of yards.
With an hour played the game was already stretched. Reds had two good breaks, the first of which was wasted by Young when a heavy touch betrayed him after Murphy’s intelligent pass had played him in down the left and Gillespie was able to gather.
At the other end Emmanuel needed to have his wits about him to prevent Antony Sweeney from scoring and that was the youngster’s last contribution of the afternoon. On 62 minutes he was replaced by Shamir Fenelon in a double change which also saw Luke Rooney come on for Smith.
With the elements behind them the hosts wasted no opportunity to put the ball into the box to pin Reds back and Wyke was a couple of inches away from completing his hat-trick but just failed to make a connection with Joyce’s left-wing cross.
Deacon replaced Harrold with 15 minutes to go but there was no way back as Carlisle completed a deserved victory.