STEVENAGE hauled themselves right back into the play-off mix as they subjected Carlisle to their second consecutive defeat to keep things tight at the top as the race for sixth spot gathers pace.
The Cumbrians took to the pitch for their pre-match warm up to the tune of David Bowie reminding them they could be heroes via the stadium PA system and they came close to living up to the billing in a game which ebbed and flowed, but eventually settled in favour of the hosts.
Manager Greg Abbott said: “We weren’t happy with how it went in the first half so we made our changes and we played much better. We’ve been done by a good goal but we had our chances and we just couldn’t finish it off. We’re very disappointed but we are still right there, and we know we have to go again come Saturday to give ourselves a chance.”
The home side, buoyed by their six-goal drubbing of Yeovil at the weekend, started the game in determined mood and it needed some strong defending from the visitors to stem what threatened to be a steady flow of pressure.
Danny Livesey was the first to put himself on the line as he blocked a fierce drive from Freeman.
Stevenage should have taken the lead with just ten minutes on the clock when Roberts swung a lovely ball in from the left. Reid lost his marker but also his bearings as he blazed his volley over from close range.
Borough kept pressing but Carlisle went close to edging their way in front when a McGovern free-kick eventually fell for Zoko. His nod down put Cook through but a first-time volley took a deflection and spun harmlessly away.
Adam Collin achieved instant hero status right in front of the travelling fans when he spread himself to make an unbelievable stop from a powerful Lascelles header from just six yards out. It needed both hands and a follow-up clearance from Taiwo to protect the goal.
The game settled ahead of half-time with both defences doing their jobs and United’s determination to keep their hosts at bay came to the fore again when Michalik stopped a low cross from Lascelles in its tracks. Livesey did the rest before Agyemang could finish it off.
Manager Abbott went for a double substitution during the break and he was rewarded with a bright start from his charges. Taiwo scuffed a loose volley into the area from a Murphy free-kick and Danny Livesey was a whisker away from finishing it off as he volleyed it just wide on the spin.
Murphy was next to go close when his glancing header from another well-taken corner flew just past the angle of post and bar. And the defender was even closer when he took charge of a 20-yard free-kick only to see it shave the bar as it dipped a fraction too late.
It was all Carlisle and a Welsh corner found captain Danny Livesey unmarked, but Day somehow kept it out as he fell to the floor and smothered the crunching header with his legs.
But it was Stevenage who raised the rafters when a long ball through the middle found substitute John Mousinho with time on his side. He took one touch and buried his volley off the roof the bar to mark his arrival on the pitch in style. The introduction of Carlisle youngster Mark Beck caused problems as Stevenage struggled to deal with his height, but they saw it through to claim a vital three points.
CARLISLE UNITED: Collin, Simek, Livesey, Michalik (Beck 88), Murphy, Taiwo, Berrett, Noble (Welsh 46), McGovern (Madden 46), Zoko, Cook.
Not used: Robson, Thirlwell.
Bookings: Zoko, Berrett, Madden.
STEVENAGE: Day, Wilson, Laird, Ashton, Long, Reid (Slew 58), Roberts, Freeman (Mousinho 73), Bostwick, Agyemang (Myrie-Williams 90), Lascelles.
Not used: Julian, Shroot.
Goal: Mousinho (77).
Att: 3,438. Ref: Mr Brendan Malone