Morecambe 0 Carlisle Utd 2: No Jerry, no problem? Too early to say, in all truth – but this was a decent enough start to life without a key man. There was no Jerry Yates but there was a goal-of-the-season contest waged by Jamie Devitt and Jack Sowerby to get Carlisle’s 2019 off to a positive start.

United’s season may depend on what happens in these days and week when transfer ins and outs take place. Fans came to the Globe Arena with concerns upon hearing news of Yates’ recall by Rotherham, and those won’t have faded today.

The good news, though, is that Carlisle have put themselves in an increasingly good position this winter, and anyone considering either returning, staying or joining the cause will be doing so with a side in the play-off race. This was a fifth straight win and United, as a result, are now in that top seven.

Their goals were worthy of settling any contest, this one not a sparkling game but which saw United have enough in the key areas. Devitt pinged in a superb strike on the 15th minute and with as many minutes left in the second half, Sowerby found the top corner in similar style.

Morecambe were unable to find the equivalent inspiration even when pushing Carlisle back for second-half spells. That was the difference, because United did not always flow. That, though, was not concerning their 1,784 fans too much as they sang and celebrated yet another good day at a ground where they have never seen their side lose.

That sort of support deserves good things. In terms of dealing with Yates’ loss, Macaulay Gillesphey’s call-up in defence, and a shuffling of the side that sent Hallam Hope down the middle and Danny Grainger further up the left, was John Sheridan’s initial way of coping with the sudden loss of one of League Two’s form players.

As Yates settled onto his Championship parent club’s bench, United had to generate more momentum without him in a bid to keep a four-game winning run hot.

Their hosts also switched things and, among four changes, up stepped one of football’s oldest stagers. Kevin Ellison, 40 next month, is a rebuke to any young pro who might have complained of New Year fatigue on this fourth game in 11 days. Devitt, meanwhile, shook many hands at his former club before lighting up the first 15 minutes. Before his latest eye-catching goal, there was some to and fro in an end-to-end start. Ellison sent Vadaine Oliver behind United’s defence inside 25 seconds but the striker couldn’t prod the ball past Adam Collin.

Carlisle also had to be attentive when Tom Parkes missed a header and both Oliver and Rhys Oates almost opened the gate. It then became apparent that not all United’s counter-attacking pace had been lost with Yates, for Ashley Nadesan was eating up useful ground down the right. From one of his crosses, Devitt laid off to Grainger, who thumped a shot into a red body.

A couple more forays came before the peach of an opener, dispatched with excellent technique by Devitt as he received a left-sided Gillesphey throw-in over his shoulder. As the ball dipped into the net via the crossbar, a few United fans spilled from the away terrace in celebration. One made it onto the pitch, evading a steward’s lunge.

That end of the ground was further eventful when a banner was then produced, referencing an unfortunate hashtag recently tweeted by United chief executive Nigel Clibbens. As it was passed along the terrace, Carlisle tried to consolidate their lead, Kelvin Etuhu having a firm shot blocked.

Morecambe, though, were not entirely placid opponents. Jordan Cranston had two attempts from 25 yards and Ellison was denied by an offside flag when put through by Oates (Collin saved in any case). Ellison was receiving plenty from United’s fans but those in blue needed to sharpen up in certain areas when the Shrimps darted into their defensive third.

What Jim Bentley’s side did not have is a decisive moment with the final ball or finish. Carlisle nearly had a second on half-time when Parkes met Devitt’s corner but the question was whether anyone could do anything to match Devitt’s moment of high quality and take this game down a particular road.

Hope worked hard up front, although was surviving on scraps for stages, and a second goal looked the best way of easing any fears. Their flaw in hold-up play brought Morecambe at United for a chunk of the second half. Carlisle had opportunities when feeding Nadesan’s pace but home pressure was stronger as Carlos Mendes-Gomes and Ellison tried to work things around the Blues’ back line.

Gillesphey was brought into aerial action more than once, while Collin safely held a Mendes Gomes shot. The hour mark was reached without a serious threat to the United keeper’s net but the Blues’ failure to get up the pitch made this a less than comfortable period, Gillesphey again clearing well when Collin failed to hold an Oates attempt.

Another Morecambe attack sprang from a Carlisle corner, Cranston eating up ground down the right and Collin diving to save Mendes-Gomes’ volley. United needed to stay intact through this and hope a few spaces might appear when they could break back themselves.

The hosts tapped further at the door when Ellison left Gary Liddle behind, Parkes clearing this one. Bentley had by now also made a double change in pursuit of a leveller as Sheridan decided against a switch.

He was vindicated in sticking, rather than twisting, when United then gained comfort with their second. Again, it came from a throw, and again, the finish was exceptional: Sowerby this time finding the top corner in style, fans scampering along the front of the stand to join in the scorer’s and his team-mates’ celebrations.

This already looked enough against opponents who lacked an edge. Nadesan almost added a third and Hope slid another chance across goal before, in stoppage time, came a moment that all of 2019 will find hard to beat: Jason Kennedy, back on the pitch, 441 days since his last first-team appearance.

His journey back from a pelvis injury has been long and painstaking. So has Carlisle’s climb back up League Two. Both feats feel rewarding right now – and will be even more so, if they can be sustained.

Morecambe: Halstead, Mills, Conlan, Old, Lavelle, Kenyon (Tutte 66), Mendes-Gomes (Mandeville 82), Cranston, Ellison, Oates (Leitch-Smith 66), Oliver. Not used: Szczepanik, Oswell, Yarney, Hedley.

Booked: Cranston, Oliver

United: Collin, Liddle, Gillesphey (Bennett 87), Gerrard, Parkes, Grainger, Sowerby (Kennedy 90) Etuhu, Devitt (Slater 82), Hope, Nadesan. Not used: Gray, Miller, Jones, McCarron.

Goals: Devitt 15, Sowerby 76

Booked: Etuhu, Gerrard

Ref: Ben Toner

Crowd: 3,749 (1,784 Carlisle fans)