Exeter City 2 Carlisle United 1: Ten-man Carlisle United fell to defeat at high-flying Exeter after Jon Mellish's first-half dismissal.

The midfielder was shown a straight red card shortly before the interval for a two-footed challenge on Archie Collins.

Sam Nombe then gave Exeter the lead on the hour mark with sub Jake Caprice adding another.

Jordan Gibson gave the Cumbrians late hope, but Keith Millen's side could not avoid defeat at St James' Park.

United also lost Jack Armer to injury as they fell back into the relegation zone in second bottom position in League Two, where they are now winless in 11 games.

Carlisle put together a solid first-half display but were on the back foot after Mellish's dismissal, which is likely to mean a three-match ban.

Matt Taylor's side went 15 games unbeaten in the league as they moved up to second place.

Manager Millen, without Callum Guy to suspension, called up Danny Devine for a start in midfield.

Brennan Dickenson also came in for Zach Clough, who dropped to the bench, while Corey Whelan was named captain in Guy's absence, Joe Riley also still missing with a foot injury and Lewis Alessandra out of the squad.

News and Star: Jordan Gibson pulls one back late on for UnitedJordan Gibson pulls one back late on for United

Exeter made three changes from their last Saturday line-up, Josh Coley making his first league start and Timothee Dieng and Colin Daniel also coming into the home XI.

United made a positive start with Tristan Abrahams twice going up against the home defence and seeing shots deflect wide for corners.

At the other end they kept the hosts at arm's length, a Josh Key cross dealt with by Mark Howard, and Jevani Brown denied by the Blues keeper after Sam Nombe had got he better of Whelan in the air.

Carlisle, though, continued to give as good as they got, with Dickenson's dangerous low cross parried by keeper Cameron Dawson, who moments later saved an attempt from the left by another ex-Grecian in Abrahams.

United, who tested Exeter again through an Abrahams cross, then suffered an injury blow as Armer, hurt in a challenge with Brown, failed to run off a knock and was replaced on 37 minutes by Taylor Charters.

Exeter threatened moments later when Brown got the better of the Blues sub in the corner, but when Timothee Dieng arrived into space to meet his pull-back, Howard solidly parried his shot.

United, though, were then a man down when, on 44 minutes, Mellish jumped into a 50-50 with Collins and ref Will Finnie took a dim view of his two-footed challenge, showing the midfielder a straight red card.

Millen adjusted at the break, moving Dickenson to left-back, bringing Charters into midfield and sending Young to the left in a 4-4-1 line-up.

The hosts upped the pace, with Key's crossing a threat, while Brown almost set something up from a shot corner, while a further cross narrowly eluded Nombe in the middle of the box.

United boss Millen then sent on Morgan Feeney as the depleted Blues went further on the defensive, adopting a back five approach.

But their resistance was broken on 60 minutes as the hosts spread the ball to the left and opened up the Blues, and sub Jonathan Grounds' low delivery was touched past the wrongfooted Howard and in off the right-hand post by Nombe for the striker'seighth goal of the season.

Carlisle almost levelled with as Gibson made an excellent run into the box, but Dawson saved Abrahams' shot from a tight angle from the left.

Exeter applied plenty more pressure in a bid to kill the game, and Dieng overran one chance after good work from Brown and Jay, while Howard saved a Pierce Sweeney drive at the near post.

Dieng was next to go close, firing wide from 20 yards after a Jay lay-off.

And Exeter finally seemed to have finished United off in the 80th minute when Devine lost the ball in midfield and Brown sent it to the left, where sub Caprice cut in and drilled low past Howard.

It was the Exeter man's first goal in 320 career appearances.

Millen sent on Sam Fishburn for Abrahams for the closing stages - and United suddenly pulled one back as Dickenson's cross from the left found Gibson, and he volleyed past Dawson with five minutes to go.

It was their first goal in four league games, but the Blues could not find a late leveller as Dickenson saw an injury-time shot blocked.

United: Howard, Mellor, Armer (Charters 37), McDonald, Whelan, Devine, Mellish, Dickenson, Gibson, Abrahams (Fishburn 81), Young (Feeney 56). Not used: Simons, Dinzeyi, Clough, Mampala.

Goal: Gibson 85.

Booked: Howard. Sent off: Mellish.

Exeter: Dawson, Sweeney, Daniel (Grounds 54), Hartridge, Key (Caprice 75), Dieng, Brown, Coley, Collins, Nombe (Amond 81), Jay. Not used: Brown, Ray, Kite, Edwards.

Goals: Nombe 60, Caprice 80.

Ref: Will Finnie.

Crowd: 4,796 (155 United fans).