Carlisle United 2 Newport County 0: Chris Beech wanted “a lot of reaction”, rather than just a fraction of one, and he certainly got that: a much more compact and complete Carlisle United display which got exactly what it deserved against a Newport side considerably paler than their amber shirts.

The Blues were, happily, a different proposition than they had been against Colchester, Omari Patrick and Joshua Kayode scoring in the first half to build this well-earned win. Newport, who were also several notches down from United’s last opponents, must have been thankful not to have conceded more on this fruitless journey from south Wales.

Mike Flynn, their manager, said he had been on shorter stag dos than the Monday-to-Wednesday round trip to Cumbria. The headache from this one might last longer too. This was not the Newport who have bustled their way up League Two and through the cups in recent times, and a United side tweaked by Beech were ready to take advantage of a team going the wrong way.

They did so early, when Patrick headed home an Elliot Watt corner, and later when Kayode converted a penalty. These goals came in a first half which ended with Ryan Inniss’s red card for the visitors, while Carlisle were also good value for the persistence and invention of their play.

They had a platform, for one thing, in Kayode, who occupied the No9 position well and allowed Patrick, Lewis Alessandra and a revitalised Jack Bridge to work angles behind and around him. Bridge, who won Carlisle’s penalty, had one of his more effective days while the relentless Alessandra did every last thing but score.

It unfolded in front of a small Tuesday night crowd – 2,822, with just 49 from Newport – a reflection of United’s recent toils at home, with a few no doubt knocked off the number through coronavirus concerns too. Perhaps a reduction in terrace pressure also brought the best out of Carlisle; either way, it was better fayre for Beech and another sign that his Blues have got their act together against the middle men of their league at least, if not yet the frontrunners.

Recalls for Kayode and Bridge – for Jon Mellish and Harry McKirdy, the latter out with a thigh injury, assistant boss Gavin Skelton said - certainly paid off and the moment Carlisle started it looked like they wanted to put distance between themselves and Saturday’s 3-0 defeat. There were good early combinations between Kayode, Bridge, Alessandra and Patrick, Kayode and Dale Gorman then exchanging chances before Patrick headed the Blues in front.

It came from a corner, a useful avenue in recent weeks, which was earned by some bright play down the right and then aimed into the box by Watt, Patrick pulling away from his man to send a header into the far corner, via a deflection.

Carlisle have seldom scored so early at home this campaign and there was something refreshing in the way Patrick in particular looked to lead them on more breaks, with his pace. Bridge started on the left of midfield, drifting infield at times, and he helped United retain the ball better than they had three days before.

Newport came back in an attempt to right their initial wrong, looking to feed the running of Padraig Amond and Jordan Green with some direct play, Joss Labadie’s midfield drive another addition from the bench after Matty Dolan limped off. There were a few high balls and long throws for Max Hunt and company to clear, but Carlisle showed the more constructive intent, one patient move against a side declining to press ending with a Gethin Jones overlap and a near-post cross which just eluded Kayode.

Newport ventured forward with greater numbers, but their touch behind enemy lines was not sharp. The same went for their defence when Gorman was turned brightly by Bridge on the left and then brought the midfielder down in the box. Flynn’s players disputed the decision by Graham Salisbury, but nonetheless it had been positive work by Bridge, and it was followed with an emphatic low penalty by Kayode.

The Exiles offered bluster by way of response, although there was one moment when they might have halved United’s lead, Green escaping Mike Jones down the right and squaring for Amond in space. Gethin Jones, though, got there in time to block and if Newport thought this was the last time they would be disappointed in the half they were mistaken. Again, they were not happy when Salisbury pulled out his red card a minute before the break, but there is no denying that Inniss gave the ref a decision to make with a challenge that looked rash on Kayode.

There was almost time for a third before half-time, too, Alessandra twice denied. Bridge often showed the value of good close control under pressure against a side desperate for the ball, and early in the second half he fashioned a chance which Watt scuffed at keeper Tom King.

There then followed a slapstick cameo which summed up both sides’ fortunes and flow: King and a defender slicing dire clearances, resulting in a corner which, when it broke for Mike Jones, was met by a fizzing volley which only just cleared the bar.

Alessandra warmed King’s gloves next, and though Newport missed a chance of their own, Labadie sending a volley over the bar when Nick Anderton’s header dropped his way, you fancied Carlisle to land a third and render the contest dead.

Alessandra nearly got it, denied by a fine King save on the hour, and Newport, who had brought on Jamille Matt for Amond by now, grew no more dangerous, a few scrambles and skirmishes aside. Robbie Willmott, with a save a keeper would have been proud of, denied Patrick another goal (no handball, Salisbury strangely decided) and there was no sense of a credible fightback from the men in amber as Hunt and Aaron Hayden cleared most things that came their way.

The outcome looked set from the moment Labadie lashed wide after a few ricochets in the box, 15 minutes from time, and we got that rarest of things from there: United seeing out a win with a little to spare, and going a hearty 20 points clear of the relegation place, which is now, thankfully, a speck in the wingmirror. Much more like it.

United: Collin, G Jones, Anderton, Hunt, Hayden, Watt, M Jones, Bridge (Thomas 69), Patrick (Iredale 86), Alessandra, Kayode (Charters 79). Not used: Dewhurst, Mellish, Scougall, Olomola.

Goals: Patrick 5, Kayode 33pen.

Booked: Hayden, Anderton.

Newport: King, Haynes, Bennett, Demetriou, Inniss, Willmott, Dolan (Labadie 12), Sheehan, Gorman, Green (Waters 82), Amond (Matt 56). Not used: Howkins, Abrahams, Collins, Khan.

Booked: Gorman. Sent off: Inniss.

Ref: Graham Salisbury.

Crowd: 2,822 (49 Newport fans).