Carlisle United 0 Cheltenham Town 1: Carlisle United’s unbeaten run came to a painful end here with the sight of Callum Guy being stretchered off the most worrying feature of this narrow, windswept defeat to Cheltenham.

Ref Andy Haines, who had one of those nights, did not even penalise the challenge by Will Boyle which left United’s new midfielder prone in the 70th minute. A few minutes later Guy was being carried down the tunnel, three games into his Blues career.

May the injury bulletins prove positive for the 23-year-old. As for United, they now have to deal with the hurt of defeat for the first time in six matches. Reuben Reid snaffled the only goal in the first half and Carlisle were unable to put a sharp point on all the pressure they had afterwards.

The check to their recent improvement was going to come eventually and this game showed them lacking in punch in the attacking third, Joshua Kayode’s continued absence not helping matters and those in his place failing in their efforts.

Carlisle did not go down for a lack of endeavour but when crosses or final passes were attempted, they were either flawed or were not met with the right sort of gambling instinct. Omari Patrick led the line gamely on his first start but he and United’s other attackers could not bridge the gap between intention and result.

They limped out of this cold evening aggrieved at Haines, who made many odd decisions and was lenient on Cheltenham when they took time over defensive dead-balls, but must also be harsh on their set-piece defending, which cost them here again, as well as the toothless aspects of their play.

The first opponent turned up long before either of the teams set foot on the pitch: the wind. Stronger than for quite some time at United’s ground, wild enough to ruin thoughts of a smooth spectacle.

It was Carlisle v Cheltenham v Ciara. How Chris Beech prepared for this storm, whilst also being without a training pitch (flooded on Sunday) is anyone’s guess. In terms of selection, Patrick replaced the injured Harry McKirdy up front. The wind was blowing hard enough to scatter some of Cheltenham’s training cones before the game; when it started, it was firmly at United’s backs as Mike Jones’ pass off Lewis Alessandra’s heel had Nathan Thomas arriving with a low shot that Owen Evans saved.

Cheltenham’s keeper found touch twice when trying to adjust to the swirling, biting conditions. Both sides made early passing mistakes while the differing first-half approaches were summed up in a ninth-minute moment which saw Elliot Watt’s inswinging corner provoking an airborne punch, and some defensive scrambling, before the visitors broke and shifted the ball well, Alfie May breaking through onto Ryan Broom’s pass and Adam Collin meeting it with a fine save.

From there United had the better of the ball though lacked real chances. Thomas sent a cunning cross into the box but Cheltenham managed to clear. Nick Anderton then put a diagonal ball onto Patrick’s toes, but he overhit his pass to Alessandra.

Carlisle tried to be more forceful than Cheltenham, who relied on a passing game which sought to use the width of the pitch. As sleet fell, Michael Duff’s side worked the ball from right to left and Collin had to be sharp to deny Chris Hussey.

There was no reply, though, when the Robins then scored, and while United’s attacking set-pieces have improved recently, they have not yet shut them down at the other end. This time, after Byron Webster was penalised, Hussey’s free-kick from the left caught Beech’s defence flat as Reid stole in at the far post to score.

Another hill to climb, going behind for the third consecutive game. Their initial efforts in response saw Patrick move into the middle and Alessandra sent wide, but Carlisle still failed to make the most of the wind or show any great clarity.

Thomas’ efforts, whether in the dribble or the shot, were frustrating, and some passes were carried away from their target by the breeze. The linesman’s flag then denied Thomas when Watt clipped him through and Alessandra had a shot blocked before the break, yet United did not have the right sort of grip on things by the midway point.

They almost did at the very start of the second half, when Patrick battled his way onto an Alessandra pass, but his finish cleared both keeper and bar. There was a small period when United had some better attacking ideas but Cheltenham were keen to catch them on the break, Collin once more saving from May after a Sean Long cross.

Patrick’s running was intended to stretch the visiting defence but the wait for more chances continued, as set-pieces came and went. At the other end May sliced wide and Charlie Raglan headed a corner past the post, and while Carlisle had more of the play in general, one sensed they needed new options in the final third.

Beech did not hurry to change things, United’s next frustration coming when Raglan slid in to challenge Thomas after Watt’s pass and, minutes later, a tackle thwarted Patrick when Alessandra sent an aerial Mike Jones pass his way.

This was a common approach, Carlisle trying to drop tricky balls into spaces behind Duff’s defence, but then the game went down a harsh road when Guy stayed down after a heavy Boyle challenge and, after receiving attention from physios and doctors, was stretchered off.

This was a worrying sight, and some Blues players had firm words with Haines – as did supporters who thought little of the officials’ display. When things resumed, Cheltenham tried to steal a second and Beech now had Ryan Loft and Jack Iredale on in search of a spark.

It remained, though, a toil, and Ryan Broom wasted a decent chance on the break for Cheltenham. Afterwards, United aimed it wide and into the middle but were not gambling well enough in the six-yard box. Webster was thrown up front and there were a few hectic scrambles in eight added minutes but they came to nothing, Carlisle’s unbeaten run the same.

United: Collin, G Jones, Anderton (Iredale 73), Webster, Hayden, M Jones (Olomola 87), Watt, Guy (Loft 73), Thomas, Patrick, Alessandra. Not used: Gray, Charters, Bridge, Hunt.

Booked: G Jones

Cheltenham: Evans, Long, Hussey, Boyle, Raglan, Tozer, Sheaf (Ince 84), Doyle-Hayes, Broom, Reid (Varney 66), May. Not used: Lovett, Addai, Debayo, Greaves, Nichols.

Goal: Reid 26

Booked: Broom

Ref: Andy Haines.

Crowd: 3,088 (84 Cheltenham fans)