Carlisle Utd 4 Crawley Town 2: Carlisle United's play-off challenge will go to the final day of the season after the Blues scored four goals in the first half-hour against Crawley.

Nathan Thomas (two), Callum O'Hare and Hallam Hope all netted in a rampant opening spell at Brunton Park.

Ashley Nathaniel-George pulled one back for the visitors shortly before the break, and they cut the deficit further when Anthony Gerrard scored an own-goal on 76 minutes.

But Carlisle, despite an edgy second-half which saw Adam Collin make some good saves, held on for a third straight home win.

It means their chances of reaching the top seven will go to their final fixture, when they go to Yeovil, whose relegation was confirmed this afternoon.

Only a win at Huish Park will give the Cumbrians any chance of finishing in the play-offs, Steven Pressley's side still two points adrift of seventh-placed Exeter.

Newport could also leapfrog the Grecians and go into pole position for the final play-off spot if they beat Oldham in their game in hand on Tuesday, with Colchester and Stevenage also still in the race.

Sheffield United loan man Thomas capitalised on a strong start by the Cumbrians with two quickfire goals.

The first came on seven minutes after Stefan Scougall had found Regan Slater, the teenager passing up the chance to shoot and insteed feeding Thomas to the right.

He cut in and whipped an emphatic shot past Glenn Morris.

Thomas then doubled his tally two minutes later with a fine individual goal, the forward outwitting Crawley with some sharp close-control in the box before drilling low past Morris.

O'Hare was denied a strong penalty claim when he appeared to be pulled back in the box. The Villa loanee needed treatment after colliding with keeper Morris but minutes later reacted quickest when a Slater shot was saved, and fired in off the crossbar.

That, though, was O'Hare's last contribution, his injury then forcing him off, Jason Kennedy coming off the bench.

Carlisle then pushed on and made it 4-0 when Slater won the ball back and Hope's low drive from 25 yards drilled into the bottom corner for his 15th of the season.

It was United's first four-goal first-half salvo in the league since October 2007 against Millwall.

Thomas and Kennedy had further attempts before Crawley scored on 44 minutes, Nathaniel-George linking with Ollie Palmer before shooting past Collin.

That was followed by an underwhelming second half as the visitors tried to stage an unlikely comeback against a tiring United side.

Kennedy was denied from the right while, for Crawley, Joe McNerny was denied by Collin.

Filipe Morais blazed over from a good position when a Collin save fell his way, and then, after Kennedy was replaced by Mark Cullen, the keeper denied Luke Gambin.

It was 4-2, though, 14 minutes from time when Lewis Young's cross was diverted into his own net by captain Gerrard.

It was nearly an even more anxious finish when, after Morris had denied Hope, Tom Parkes was ambushed by Panutche Camara, who put Reece Grego-Cox through on goal.

Collin, though, denied him with a fine save and United played out the closing minutes to keep their campaign alive for another week.

Slater was recalled by Carlisle boss Pressley for the injured Kelvin Etuhu, who is facing a long lay-off due to hamstring tear.

Half-time, meanwhile, saw Brunton Park salute captain Danny Grainger, who yesterday announced he is set to retire.

Former Blue favourites Dennis Booth, Karl Hawley, Simon Hackney and Chris Billy helped perform the half-time draws.

United: Collin, Liddle, Miller, Gerrard, Parkes, Slater, Jones, Scougall (Gillesphey 81), O'Hare (Kennedy 24, Cullen 69), Thomas, Hope. Not used: Gray, Glendon, Simpson, Branthwaite.

Crawley: Morris, Young, McNerny, Maguire, Dallison, Bulman, Nathaniel-George, Grego-Cox, Morais (Willock 71), Camara, Palmer (Gambin 58). Not used: Mersin, Doherty, N'Gala, Sesay.