Cheltenham Town 1 Carlisle United 1: Carlisle United's play-off hopes are effectively over despite a gutsy draw against promoted Cheltenham.

The Blues gave their all in a bid to take their top-seven hopes into their final two games.

Joshua Kayode headed Chris Beech's side in front in the first half.

But Chris Hussey's second-half free-kick brought Michael Duff's leaders level.

Kayode hit the bar late on but the point was enough to send Cheltenham into League One.

And it leaves United six points outside the play-off places with two games to go.

Carlisle need two wins, accompanied by successive defeats for their rivals as well as a big goal difference swing.

United lost Rhys Bennett to a first-half injury but performed well at the Jonny-Rocks Stadium despite the disappointment of a season which promised so much ending with them missing out on a promotion chance.

Kayode's 33rd minute header gave the Blues a well-deserved 1-0 first-half lead.

The striker met a Callum Guy free-kick and sent his finish looping over keeper Josh Griffiths.

It rewarded the Blues for a resolute and hungry first-half showing at the Jonny-Rocks Stadium.

United started with three centre-halves - Bennett, Nick Anderton and Aaron Hayden, with George Tanner at right wing-back and Jack Armer on the left.

With Bennett in for Lewis Alessandra, and keeper Magnus Norman getting a start for Paul Farman, Carlisle had to survive an early trial by set-piece against Michael Duff's side.

Ben Tozer sent some early long throws into United's box but Chris Beech's defence managed to deal with them.

United also survived a number of early free-kicks before coming into things with good pressing which brought a Joe Riley shot that was blocked.

The Blues suffered a 20th-minute blow when Bennett went down injured after a challenge with George Lloyd and had to go off.

Danny Devine came on and went to right wing-back, Armer moving inside to centre-half and Tanner switching to the left.

United, though, overcame the blow well with Offrande Zanzala and Kayode leading the line well and Guy a driving force in midfield.

Zanzala almost opened something up for United before Hayden did well to see off Lloyd after the latter had shrugged off Armer.

Carlisle's defending remained solid while their football was of an improving standard as they spread play well and win back the ball in midfield.

Some sharp passing earned a free-kick from which Guy gained another assist as Kayode headed his eighth of the campaign.

Carlisle were good value for the advantage, which they held to the break as Norman and Mellish dealt with a testing Hussey cross, before Cheltenham scrambled away another Blues free-kick.

Cheltenham improved after the half-time arrival of sub Alfie May and they levelled on 55 minutes.

Anderton was penalised for a challenge on Sam Smith - harshly, United felt - and Hussey curled a free-kick in off the crossbar.

United responded well with sub Ethan Walker helping them renew their attacking efforts in an evenly-matched contest.

Norman pulled off a good save from Matty Blair before United came agonisingly close when Kayode powered Anderton's cross against the bar.

Charlie Raglan went close for the hosts late on while Carlisle sent more set-pieces into the home box, to no avail.

There were scenes of celebration and fireworks above the stadium as Cheltenham celebrated after the final whistle.

Cheltenham: Griffiths, Long, Tozer, Raglan, Blair, Hussey, Thomas, Sercombe (Freestone 90), Azaz (Chapman 88), Smith (Williams 88), Lloyd (May 46). Not used: Flinders, Wright, Vassilev.

Goal: Hussey 55

United: Norman, Hayden, Bennett (Devine 22), Anderton, Tanner (Patrick 74), Armer, Guy, Riley (Walker 66), Mellish, Zanzala (Alessandra 74), Kayode. Not used: Farman, Charters, Scott.

Goal: Kayode 33

Booked: Hayden, Mellish, Anderton.

Ref: Kevin Johnson.