Cambridge United 1 Carlisle United 2: Each result like this vindicates Carlisle United's decision to put their faith in an operator like John Sheridan: someone with the tools to put problems right, even on the occasions they are self-inflicted, in time to get serious points on the table.

A club with the Blues' well-publicised limitations does not sit fourth after seven games without the application of significant skill. Sheridan's experience and clear eye are responsible for this early rise and those qualities negotiated United to victory here.

Don't try putting too much praise at the boss's door just yet. Last week Sheridan gave a magnificently underwhelmed response to his manager-of-the-month shortlisting, and practically each interview comes with a word of caution about "what's around the corner".

A 2-1 win at Cambridge in early September may not see him streaking down Botchergate, then. But still. So far, so good, and one senses the Blues are benefiting from having someone with Sheridan's years, his touch, rather than a leader who needed more time to adapt to League Two, or sought to reinvent the wheel.

Midway through a poor first half here, Carlisle's boss sorted things out decisively: rearranging certain players, restoring balance and the result was a comeback win that keeps them, whisper it, in contact with the early-season promotion places.

League-table aversion is a regular feature of managerial interviews at this time of year. Supporters, though, are free to knock themselves out. "It's brilliant for the fans to look at that [the table] and I hope they get some belief from it," Sheridan said.

"I'm chuffed to bits for them. They've travelled a long way, and on the way home they'll look and see we're fourth in the league, ahead of a home game next week. I really do want them to believe. I want everyone jumping on board and all going in the same direction."

That quest will be more realistic with each result like this. You would ideally prefer United to show their best colours from the start, since there will be stronger opponents than Cambridge this season. Joe Dunne's team ought to have been comfortably ahead at the break, not level at 1-1, and Carlisle's starting system, with Ashley Nadesan uncomfortable as a right winger, did not work.

Yet once Carlisle were rejigged into a more natural shape, they were far the better side. Restored to attack alongside Richie Bennett, Nadesan's deadly finish settled things and was backed up by some ever-improving displays, such as that of Jerry Yates, a menace to Cambridge's defence, and Adam Collin, who has made a reliable return in goal.

Right players, right positions, right result. One cannot say how long this form will last but a foundation of points is certainly being built, which bodes well. By the end on Saturday it was Cambridge with the problems to figure out, their defence cracking under United's pressure, their other players having been unable to take command when they should.

Key to their positive start was the familiar figure of Jabo Ibehre: applauded by Carlisle's fans in the first few minute and looking strong and sharp as Cambridge appeared to set the Blues up for a number of raids.

As United began short of poise, Cambridge found big spaces between their guests' defence and midfield, and also created gaps down the wings. One such early attack saw Brad Halliday earn a corner which George Maris curled through space, surprising Ibehre as it reached him at the far post, the chance going wide.

Carlisle picked up some useful ball but lacked options. Nadesan was not a natural fit on the right and Cambridge grew eager to steal the ball and break. With Ibehre the fulcrum, David Amoo picked out Jevani Brown, who shot over, while Ade Azeez almost benefited from a lack of defensive attention.

George Glendon replied with a tame shot but Cambridge's pace troubled United far more, and after Azeez blew one chance by shooting over, and was then denied on the line by Collin when in golden space, they scored: Ibehre threaded through to the left, cutting it back to Brown in acres, and finally a gift the hosts couldn't pass up.

United, clearly, were off kilter here, failing to track runners and appearing in a muddle. It was here that Sheridan acted, sending Devitt from advanced central midfield to the right, and Nadesan to the strikeforce, yet initially Cambridge's confidence was such that more goals could have followed, Gary Liddle blocking from Brown and Maris firing wide.

There was little to recommend from Carlisle's first-half display overall but they did at least end it in a way that offered belated hope. Yates, released by Kelvin Etuhu, sped past Halliday as the Blues finally countered with purpose.

Then, they scored. Maris started it with a misplaced pass and Carlisle worked it forward, and to the left, with intent, Devitt to Etuhu to Yates, who again evaded Halliday. His cross was too deep, but Devitt returned it, and Bennett hung in the air to head past David Forde.

It was certainly a bonus for the Blues, and did not, by all accounts, spare them a half-time "rollocking" from Sheridan, but the second half progressively revealed more demons in Cambridge's confidence than were first apparent: at the back, where Louis John and George Taft lacked composure, and further up, where Azeez and Brown lost any consistent punch.

Carlisle, by contrast, were much happier with their lot. Two minutes from the restart, Devitt crossed well for Bennett to head wide. Collin safely dealt with a couple of Cambridge forays, and then Yates went up against Halliday again, putting the right-back on the back foot, almost linking with Nadesan for a chance, then shooting wide himself.

Macaulay Gillesphey launched a free-kick into the away end from a useful position, but after Maris and Taft missed half-chances for Joe Dunne's team, Carlisle were more precise next time. Etuhu won a header on the left, Yates and Bennett worked it crisply right, Devitt fed Nadesan and the striker got two bites against John, the second one drilled low across Forde and home.

It was enough, even with 25 minutes left. Barry Corr, from the bench, sought to bring a more reliable penalty-box focus than Azeez for Cambridge but saw an early finish blocked. Later, the striker went in pursuit of Collin but the Carlisle keeper won that race and Peter Kayed the ball out of the ground.

In the middle, Etuhu and Glendon were now assured, while Yates was dynamic. Pouncing on a John error, he fed substitute Adam Campbell, who shot wide when a two-goal margin was making eyes at the Blues.

That kept Cambridge interested, as did a Devitt attempt that whistled over, but in truth there was little in the closing stages that threatened Collin's target, little that put Carlisle's turnaround in danger, and little, after that slip at Mansfield last weekend, that threatened to put any sort of stumble in Sheridan's quickly-rediscovered stride.

Cambridge: Forde, Halliday, Carroll, Taft, John, Deegan (Lewis 85), Maris, Amoo, Brown, Ibehre, Azeez (Corr 70). Not used: Mitov, Taylor, O'Neil, Osadebe, Davies.

Goal: Brown 22

United: Collin, Liddle, Gillesphey, Gerrard, Parkes, Etuhu, Glendon (Sowerby 90), Devitt, Yates, Bennett, Nadesan (Campbell 77). Not used: O'Reilly, Miller, Slater, Adewusi, McCarron.

Goals: Bennett 42, Nadesan 69

Booked: Campbell

Ref: Ollie Yates

Crowd: 4,234 (248 Carlisle fans)