Carlisle United 2 Chesterfield 1
Two goals in the final 16 minutes saw Chesterfield lose the lead and then any reward having led themselves for virtually an hour. It was the visitors first loss at Brunton Park in 19 years.
Drew Talbot’s first goal in over a year had given John Sheridan’s side a 16th minute lead and they looked more than capable of holding on for the three points.
Debut-making sub Nicky Ajose had two chances to double the Spireites’ advantage and soon after the second of those chances, a left-footed shot cleared off the line by Peter Murphy, the Cumbrians levelled.
Ben Parker, on loan from Leeds United, headed in from a corner after getting free of his markers. It was the left-back’s first ever league goal and only his second career strike after previously scoring for his parent club in an FA Cup win at Northampton over three years ago.
The body blow of that equaliser, after the Spireites’ back line had held firm under pressure, was then followed by another goal six minutes from time.
A United goal kick was flicked on and it fell for James Hurst. He passed back to Tommy Lee but the ball was under-hit and with surface water gathering after an afternoon of rain, sleet and snow, in nipped Francois Zoko to gather, round the keeper and slot the ball home.
The manager brought back Neal Trotman and Liam Ridehalgh after they were cup-tied for the Oldham win.
Simon Ford was rested and Jamie Lowry was on the bench.
Gregor Robertson made his 200th career league appearance playing opposite Tom Taiwo, the man with whom he accidentally tangled to badly break his leg in 2009.
The home side, without first choice men Lee Miller, James Berrett, Matty Robson and Rory Loy, two suspended and two injured, started brightly.
They went close from a couple of corners, John-Paul McGovern’s flag-kick almost went directly in and Lubomir Michalik headed another just wide.
Liam Noble and Zoko shot wide before Mark Allott’s shot was blocked.
The rebound fell for Ridehalgh and his cross was nodded on by Scott Boden for Talbot to strike on the turn from eight yards.
Chesterfield limited their hosts to long range efforts. Paul Thirlwell and Noble forced Lee to work from such shots and the points looked secure.
Ajose came on for Boden and the Spireites immediately looked the most likely next scorers. The debutant clipped a shot just wide after David Davis’s pass before Murphy’s on the line changed the direction of the game.
Murphy headed wide ahead of Andy Welsh coming on. His introduction meant Zoko moved more central.
Parker’s powerful header was somewhat out of the blue but Zoko’s goal after Hurst’s misjudgement was a real hammer blow for the visitors after four straight wins.
Carlisle ended the stronger with Zoko again going close but he should never have been given the opportunity to rob Chesterfield of some deserved reward.
Carlisle: Collin, Simek, Murphy, Michalik, Parker, Taiwo, Thirlwell, Noble (Madden 46), McGovern, Cook (Welsh 71), Zoko. Subs not used: Gillespie, Livesey, Chantler.
Chesterfield: Lee, Hurst, Trotman, Thompson, Robertson, Talbot, Allott, Davis, Ridehalgh (Lowry 87), Boden (Ajose 59), Lester (Bowery 84). Subs not used: Fleming, Whitaker.
Attendance: 4,313 (231 from Chesterfield).
Referee: Geoff Eltringham (Tyne & Wear).