Carlisle will this weekend face Lincoln for the fourth time in FA Cup battle, having edged their head-to-head meetings by two to one in the competition so far.

After defeat in 1928 and victory in 1949, their only other encounter came much later, in 2002, a period of transition for the Cumbrians – and typically eventful times.

It was the first campaign of the post-Michael Knighton era, his controversial 10-year tenure having finally ended that summer as Irish businessman John Courtenay took control.

A new broom swept through Brunton Park, with Roddy Collins reinstated as manager and a host of players signed – but also a new degree of chaos at various turns.

This was never better demonstrated than at Sincil Bank in the league during August, when Carlisle’s 1-0 win came despite three red cards and off-field scuffles that led Courtenay and striker Richie Foran into court appearances and convictions for threatening behaviour.

That particular matter was far from resolved when United clashed with Lincoln again, this time in the FA Cup first round in November.

This time there were not quite so many sendings-off – just the one this time – but a similar outcome, as Collins’ men got the better of Keith Alexander’s visitors.

United’s boss had, in the build-up, scoffed at the “loud music, shouting, roaring and huddles” that Lincoln had laid on in the previous meeting, insisting his own players would prove the stronger side.

So it proved over a tight contest in front of a 4,388 Brunton Park crowd, Carlisle showing the sort of confident and controlled display that was elusive at other times under Collins.

This came in face of a robust and often aerial approach from the Imps, who sought to use 6ft 7in striker Ben Futcher at every opportunity.

Before United could establish a lead, they had to survive a controversial moment midway through the first half.

It was Lincoln who were literally handed the perfect chance to take the lead when, on 23 minutes, a cross from the Imps saw right-back Brian Shelley fail to intercept, the ball finding its way to the visitors’ Peter Gain.

His shot flicked off Foran and was heading in when the ball struck defender Darren Kelly on the line – first against his chest, then falling onto his arm.

This was enough for ref Graham Salisbury to award a penalty and dismiss Kelly for handball, once his linesman had flagged.

There, though, the visitors’ advantage ended. Matty Glennon had saved a penalty in United’s previous game against Kidderminster and did so again here, Ben Sedgemore’s attempt kept out as the keeper dived to his left.

There would be several future occasions when Glennon’s ability to keep out penalties would benefit the Blues. Here, it was the boost they needed.

In the second half, despite being down to 10 men, they imposed some authority and took the lead in the 56th minute. Ryan Baldacchino had a shot blocked but instead of attacking the rebound, he slipped it inside to Foran, who took it first time and shot past Lincoln No1 Alan Marriott.

This gave them a buffer against a sustained fightback from Alexander’s men. Futcher headed against the bar, Glennon saved superbly from Simon Yeo and Dene Cropper hit the post - but Carlisle then earned breathing space, loan striker Craig Farrell converting their second after being played through by sub Brendan McGill.

The Imps grabbed a consolation three minutes from time, Futcher blasting home from close range, but United negotiated the rest safely, with Peter Murphy outstanding in defence.

The reward was a second round tie against Division Three rivals Scunthorpe, with further excitement generated after a 0-0 draw at Glanford Park, since the third round draw handed the winners a clash with Terry Venables’ Leeds.

This intrigued Sky Sports, who planned to televise the replay with the promise of £100,000 for Carlisle’s coffers. Here, though, the journey ended. A hard frost put paid to the Thursday night game despite United deploying industrial heaters and laying dozens of bales of straw on the pitch.

That cost them the TV bonanza - and then, four days later, the rearranged game saw Scunthorpe win 1-0, as Carlisle returned to a troubled league campaign that required a hat-trick from Brian Wake at Shrewsbury to secure belated survival.

Another cup diversion, meanwhile, came in the LDV Vans Trophy, when Collins’ team reached the final before going down to Bristol City at the Millennium Stadium.

United: Glennon, Birch, Maddison, Shelley, Murphy, Kelly, McDonagh, Foran (Andrews), Baldacchino, Sutton (McGill), Farrell. Not used: Wake, Nixon, Byrne.

Lincoln: Marriott, Bailey (Smith), Futcher, Morgan, Cropper, Sedgemore (Mike), Gain, Yeo (Ward), Weaver, Bimson, Willis. Not used: Mayo, Pettinger.

Crowd: 4,388