Carlisle United 1 Crewe Alexandra 0: The injuries that many felt would examine Carlisle United's stretched squad weren't supposed to be as abrupt and serious as this. The Blues' promising climb to the heights of League Two came at a serious cost here and the first thing to do is wish Joe Fryer well on his long road back.

United's bid to sustain what has been a very good August must now proceed without their young Middlesbrough loan goalkeeper, whose broken tibia and fibula opens the door in regrettable circumstances to Adam Collin.

Carlisle could do far worse than to have such an experienced campaigner ready to step up. Collin in fact did so here less than 10 minutes after replacing the stricken Fryer, making a sharp double save shortly before Ashley Nadesan scored the 69th-minute winner.

Who will now back up Collin is a matter for Sheridan and United's budget. The pleasant surprise, to some, of seeing Carlisle so far up the fledgling table at this stage is in spite of some early-season misfortune, so one has to hope for a temporary ceasefire on their bad luck.

With Danny Grainger also facing a possible absence with a calf injury, Mike Jones still out and Jason Kennedy a longer-term absentee, Sheridan's options are close to the bone. This accompanies the better news, which is that the fit bodies who have produced a return of 10 points from five games must be in a positive state as they push on to Mansfield next weekend.

"It's a good feeling when you're winning games, no matter how you're playing. It's good for everyone involved in the club," said Sheridan, who must be in the August manager of the month conversation - and could have been favourite for the gong, were it not for the false start at Exeter.

Those injuries aside, United's record so far in 2018/19 reflects a strong start, and this was another constructive afternoon. Not necessarily in performance - Carlisle were much less fluent than they have been - but in persistence, in winning grittily and, in Nadesan's case, in opportunism.

As long as the Fleetwood loanee is on the pitch, one feels Carlisle will pursue the possibility of victory until the very end. At Cheltenham the previous weekend he harried a goal for Richie Bennett through sheer determination.

Here, the striker made one for himself, giving Michael Raynes a head start but eventually outpacing Crewe's former Blues defender before slotting home at the Warwick Road End.

It wasn't a performance you would wish to repeat often, but when has an ugly 1-0 ever been something to reject? When Nadesan put the key in the lock, it also ensured an appropriate marking of Carlisle's 90th anniversary as a Football League club.

Sheridan will not care for such milestones, and nor will be pour himself a celebratory glass when he looks at the league table. A moment of satisfaction, though, would be forgivable, given the challenges he faced when appointed in June.

Primarily he has attacked them by setting United up positively. Their recent style has been described as "refreshing" by someone who should know (legendary winger George McVitie). On Saturday it was less so, because Carlisle initially looked leggy, a little slower in thought and deed, and also because they were given a proper examination by Crewe.

The visitors, including six changes after their 6-0 thrashing at Colchester, spent chunks of the game playing the more progressive football. What they lacked was the devil Nadesan provided. United spent the first few minutes on the front foot, Hallam Hope shooting over, but the rest of the first half searching in vain for their best footing.

On the Blues' left, Callum Ainley went past Grainger a little too smoothly for comfort, while Carlisle's inability to make things stick upfield then came under assault as Crewe broke, often through Shaun Miller dropping deep to prompt counter-attacks. One squall of pressure required Tom Parkes to slide in to clear Ainley's cross. An Ainley corner then gave Perry Ng a free header which he sent wide.

Miller's familiar movement across the front line was a task for Carlisle, as he linked with Jordan Bowery, and United's sense of security wasn't helped when Grainger then limped off, Macaulay Gillesphey taking the captain's place. A couple of half-chances aside, Carlisle were too predictable in their forward movements, too obvious in their aiming for Bennett, who found it difficult to get the better of Crewe's centre-halves.

Too often the ball simply came back their way, such as the break that required Fryer to save from Bowery when Charlie Kirk fed the striker to the left.

United were surviving, but little else, and one wondered how the game was going to turn when, in the 50th minute, Miller collected the ball in a promising position and deftly switched it across to Paul Green. Fryer went down bravely to save and both men came out of the resulting collision with broken bones, stretchers required and, in Fryer's case, a couple of his team-mates also helping the medical staff.

An eight-minute stoppage was required as both were attended to. When things eventually restarted, Nadesan startled the visiting defence and almost went through before Eddie Nolan tackled him at the last moment.

This, the striker later said, explained why he was more decisive 10 minutes later. By that point Collin had been swiftly into action, parrying a Ryan Wintle drive and saving Ainley's follow-up header. When things next opened up for the Blues, and Gillesphey sent it down the left, Bennett won the sort of flick-on that had earlier eluded him, and Nadesan ate up what was in front of him like Pac-Man as he got past Raynes and stroked in his first Brunton Park goal.

What was left, which included lots of added time, was, like the rest of it, far from smooth. It was about Carlisle negotiating their way to victory even though the route was tricky. In this task, Anthony Gerrard excelled, the centre-half again in most of the right places to intercept danger and take command of a few testing situations.

This, remember, is Gerrard short of full fitness, yet he has made an influential start. The way he commandeered United's back line meant Crewe only endangered Carlisle in wide areas and in a couple of scrambles.

Sub Chris Porter headed a corner over with his first touch and, after Hope sliced a cute Devitt pass over for the Blues, and George Glendon and Jerry Yates failed with attempts, Crewe persistence forced a few closing set-pieces, the last of which saw Nolan chip, Raynes climb but Gillesphey clear from the trenches.

That latter pair were team-mates when Carlisle made a good League Two start in 2016. This time, Sheridan's budget army are actually ahead on points at the equivalent stage: a tribute to some wise-headed management and an optimistic team, which could now do with a break, so to speak, from what fate is trying to put in their way.

United: Fryer (Collin 57), Liddle, Grainger (Gillesphey 30), Gerrard, Parkes, Etuhu, Devitt, Hope, Yates, Nadesan (Glendon 79), Bennett. Not used: G Miller, Slater, Campbell, Adewusi.

Goal: Nadesan 69

Crewe Alexandra: Garratt, Ng, Hunt, Nolan, Raynes, Kirk (Nicholls 79), Ainley, Wintle, Green (Jones 58), S Miller, Bowery (Porter 84). Not used: Richards, Walker, Lowery, Reilly.

Booked: Ng, Green

Ref: Sebastian Stockbridge

Crowd: 4,238 (251 Crewe fans)