An own-goal one week, a clean-sheet the next: nobody was entitled to more satisfaction after Carlisle's win at Bury than Tom Parkes. There is a case for saying nobody had earned it more, too.

There were times at Gigg Lane when the ball was attracted to Parkes' forehead as though magnets were involved. That's how the centre-half made it look, at least, which is the best tribute to his defending under a hail of Nicky Adams crosses.

Alongside Anthony Gerrard, whose head also got a regular workout, Parkes was outstanding. As well as midfielder Kelvin Etuhu, the former Bristol Rovers man has probably been the eyecatching player of United's campaign so far.

Last season was far from a bad one for Parkes, even as he negotiated pitfalls such as red cards and a move to the unfamiliar position of left-back at a time when another left-sided centre-back - the superb veteran Clint Hill - was ruling the roost.

This term, though, he seems a little more emphatic in his work and this is precisely the player Keith Curle hoped he was getting when bringing the 26-year-old north from Leyton Orient in the summer of 2017.

Parkes let out a contented laugh when asked to reflect on the demanding nature of Carlisle's win at Gigg Lane. "Yeah, it's always difficult when a man gets sent off and you’ve got balls coming left, right and centre, and you’ve got to throw your bodies on the line to not concede," he said. "I thought we did that as a squad."

It was a test not just of positioning but concentration, so often was Adams curling accurate deliveries into Carlisle's danger area. The record shows that United defended them better than Bury attacked them and the result, after Richie Bennett's winner, means they are now facing back-to-back home games from fifth position.

League Two can be volatile - United fell from fourth to 11th and then climbed six places in the space of eight days - but it is not a bad launchpad once more. So why not think positively from their current place?

"I know it's still early in the season but you want to try and be in and around that top seven early doors," Parkes said. "If you can stay in that top seven up to now, it's good. We dropped down and out of it after last Saturday, so for us to bounce back and win is pleasing for the team and good for the fans to see."

With 849 Blues supporters in the ground, it was the first big (relatively) close away day of the campaign. To mark it with victory made the occasion all the sweeter. It was far from easy - when it is ever? - but Carlisle's resolve pleased Sheridan and, reckoned Parkes, was something they have to keep repeating.

"We know what Nicky Adams is about - we know what he was like when he was here, technically he's great at crossing balls and they are dangerous," the defender said. "I thought we dealt well with our positioning to make sure we got first touch on the ball.

"[Danny] Mayor is a good player too, technically good, he likes to cut inside and get his shots off, because he's good at that. I think we dealt with that well.

"They had a chance with the header [from Adam Thompson in injury-time] - you think possibly he should score that, but fortunately he didn't, and it's good for us to have kept a clean sheet.

"We want to build on that. We want to keep more clean sheets, because it gives us more opportunity of winning games."

Simple but true. Gigg Lane saw United's third shut-out from nine league games and more of that, rather than the closing stages against Tranmere when two mistakes cost them, will be required to keep this season on its promising path.

At the heart of those efforts will be a back four unit which looks likely to continue for the foreseeable: Parkes and Gerrard in the centre, Gary Liddle at right-back, and Macaulay Gillesphey deputising for the sidelined Danny Grainger on the left.

The latter is not yet ready to return, having suffered what Sheridan described as a "bit of a setback" in his comeback from a calf injury. Gillesphey was also very much part of Saturday's rearguard effort and Parkes believes the defensive unit has a good blend.

On Gerrard, he said: "I'm enjoying playing alongside Ant. He's an experienced player and I'm learning from him every game.

"We've played together for a few games now and you can see the partnership starting to work a little bit.

"It's something you have to deal with in football - you get new players in and you've got to make sure you can start with a partnership straight away. I think we have done that.

"We've a lot of experience with [Gerrard], Gary Liddle and I include myself in that, and then you've got Macca who has come in at left-back and has been fantastic as well. He's still young, so it's good to try and help him with certain things.

"I'm really enjoying it and I'm pleased with my performances."

Parkes, who also reflected on the "great turnout" from United's supporters at Gigg Lane, believes defeating a club expected to be in the League Two running this season bodes well for the challenges facing the Blues next.

"It was a massive win for us - [Bury] are a big club, and in the odds they're probably one of the favourites to be in the top seven or get promoted, so for us to come away and take thee points from them is pleasing for us," he said.

"The gaffer said to us about bouncing back - we've done it before when we've lost a game, and to bounce back shows character. We don’t want to lose, and we want to make sure that, if we do lose a game, we've got to bounce back stronger. We don’t want to draw - we want to win games.

"We've a few more home games now, so we need to build on this result - work hard through the week, make sure we're right for Saturday, put on another good performance and try and get another three points."