Colchester United 2 Carlisle United 1: Carlisle United’s promotion hopes faded further in the fog as strugglers Colchester fought back to end their long winless run. 

Callum Harriott scored twice after the break to give the home side a 2-1 win - their first victory in 15. 

It was a fifth defeat in six games for the out-of-form Cumbrians, who had led through Jon Mellish - and the latest in a sequence of games where they have scored first before being overturned.

Mellish had fired home his 13th of the season after 29 minutes and Carlisle seemed to be in control, almost adding a second when Joe Riley’s shot was tipped onto the post by ex-Blues keeper Shamal George. 

But recalled Dean Furman’s challenge on Frank Nouble enabled Harriott to level from the penalty spot. 

And that was the leg-up Colchester needed as United then fell in familiar style, Harriott firing in a second from outside the box to complete Carlisle's capitulation.

The Blues dropped to 12th in League Two as a result.

Ref Trevor Kettle also reversed two penalty decisions – one for each side – in a game which saw Cedwyn Scott make a late United debut. 

It was to no avail as United’s winless run was extended to six games, the hosts winning for the first time since December 8 and Carlisle taking one point from a possible 18.

The game was played in heavy fog which descended during the warm-ups and made visibilty difficult as kick-off approached.

The game, though, got under way as planned, and Carlisle went close with an early header and had handball appeals for a penalty waved away by ref Kettle.

Brennan Dickenson, who also came into the side, then saw a shot saved against his former club by George.

At the other end Paul Farman stood up well to block a free header, before Dickenson was denied again from a free-kick against his former club.

Mellish next saw a shot blocked but pounced from the resulting Dickenson corner for his first goal in 12 outings.

United, the better side in the opening 45 minutes, almost broke for a second before the break but Dickenson shot just wide.

Riley sent a free-kick into the wall as Carlisle looked for a second early in the second half.

United were then given a penalty as Omar Sowunmi brought down Joshua Kayode - only for ref Kettle to change his decision after consulting his assistant, awarding Carlisle a corner instead.

Mellish had a header blocked from that set-piece, before Riley's good run earned him a chance from George Tanner's ball forward, but George saved the midfielder's curling effort.

The home keeper then pulled off a fine save to push a Riley shot against the inside of the post.

Colchester then staged their comeback, the recalled Furman's foul on Nouble followed by Harriott's penalty.

United's earlier sense of control was now lost, and Harriott duly fired the hosts in front from outside the box.

Beech sent on Cedwyn Scott for his debut along with Omari Patrick, and Dickenson tested George as United looked for a way back.

Kettle then awarded the home side a late penalty when he ruled that Farman had fouled, only to change his mind again and award a corner.

Carlisle's remaining efforts were to no avail as the Essex side got their first win for nearly three months,

Callum Guy was out of the squad, United confirming the midfielder is at home with partner Abbie preparing for the birth of their second child.

Colchester: George, Welch-Hayes (Folivi 68), Smith, Sowunmi, Eastman, Oteh (Brown 68), Harriott, Chilvers, Sarpong-Wiredu, Tchamadeu, Nouble (Cracknell 90). Not used: Coulter, Doherty, Senior, Poku. 

Goals: Harriott 67pen, 74 

Booked: Tchamadeu. 

United: Farman, Tanner, Anderton, Hayden, Bennett, Furman, Riley, Mellish (Scott 79), Dickenson, Toure (Patrick 79), Kayode. Not used: Norman, Alessandra, McDonald, Charters, Armer. 

Goal: Mellish 29 

Ref: Trevor Kettle.