Carlisle United 2 Crawley Town 0: Carlisle United lifted some of the recent gloom with a much-improved performance and highly welcome win over Crawley. 

The Blues grabbed only their second victory in 14 games as Joe Riley and Omari Patrick both scored in the first half. 

It halted a three-game losing run, eased some of the pressure on the team and boss Chris Beech and lifted them three places to 11th. 

Carlisle earned some good fortune in the 17th minute at Brunton Park through Riley’ second goal of the season. 

The midfielder’s shot from outside the box struck a divot and wrongfooted visiting keeper Glenn Morris.

News and Star: United celebrate Riley's opener (photo: Barbara Abbott)United celebrate Riley's opener (photo: Barbara Abbott)

United, though, were worth their lead - and doubled it in impressive style through Patrick when his 30-yard shot dipped past the Crawley keeper.

Carlisle could have increased their lead through Offrande Zanzala in both halves. It was, though, a much-needed victory as well as a first clean sheet in 14 games for the Blues, who leapfrogged their visitors and are now six points adrift of the play-off places with 10 games to go. 

Beech made two changes to his side, bringing Lewis Alessandra and Jack Armer back into the side for Dean Furman and Nick Anderton.

Carlisle started in confident mood, a good Zanzala turn almost setting up Jon Mellish in the second minute, with Crawley looking suspect defensively in the early stages.

A Josh Wright cross tested United at the other end but Carlisle forced more chances, Rod McDonald volleying over from a good position and Jack Armer twice mis-hitting shots when picked out in space.

Aaron Hayden recovered well to deny ex-United man Ashley Nadesan as Crawley broke, before Carlisle scored.

There was certainly an element of fortune about their goal but United weren't complaining when Riley's shot struck a divot in front of goal and spun past the wrongfooted keeper Morris.

This was followed by more confident play by the Blues, Patrick to the fore, Alessandra forcing a good save from Morris, and Callum Guy and Patrick in the thick of further chances.

Zanzala came close to a second when he headed George Tanner's cross just wide, before Patrick did make it two with a superb 30-yard shot which flew past Morris.

News and Star: Aaron Hayden, second left, shows his joy as Patrick is congratulated on Carlisle's second goal (photo: Barbara Abbott)Aaron Hayden, second left, shows his joy as Patrick is congratulated on Carlisle's second goal (photo: Barbara Abbott)

Guy went close with a free-kick shortly after, with Crawley unable to profit from a dangerous Jack Powell free-kick towards the end of the half.

Zanzala had a header saved early in a more even second half, Tarryn Allarakhia's cross going unrewarded for the visitors and Powell going close with another Crawley free-kick.

Zanzala should have made it three on 64 minutes but saw a header saved by Morris, who then somehow kept out the rebound when the striker looked certain to score.

Crawley tried to fight back but caused Beech's defence little trouble as the Cumbrians secured an overdue result.

United: Farman, Tanner, Armer, Hayden, McDonald, Guy, Riley (Furman 90), Mellish, Patrick (Toure 86), Alessandra (Walker 89), Zanzala (Scott 89). Not used: Norman, Anderton, Charters. 

Goals: Riley 17, Patrick 33 

Booked: Guy. 

Crawley: Morris, Francomb, Tsaroulla, McNerny, Craig, Hessenthaler, J Wright, Powell (Matthews 74), Allarakhia (Davies 80), Nichols, Nadesan (Tilley 86). Not used: Nelson, Sesay, Maguire-Drew. 

Booked: McNerny, Craig. 

Ref: Robert Lewis