Carlisle United 0 Cambridge United 4: Carlisle crashed to a seventh straight League One defeat after collapsing against Cambridge.

Paul Simpson's bottom-placed Blues are now 13 points adrift in the relegation zone with a return to League Two now looking certain after this utterly bereft afternoon.

Sullay Kaikai shot Neil Harris' side in front in the first half, and then two quickfire goals after the break - a Sam Lavelle own-goal and an Elias Kachunga effort - sealed the visitors' points before Ryan Bennett headed a late fourth.

It proved yet another miserable day at Brunton Park as a 6,877 crowd watched the thrashing.

Young Ukrainian striker Anton Dudik made his Blues debut as a second-half sub but it was another day which underlined why Carlisle are heading for an immediate return to the basement division and with no improvement in sight.

After a bright first ten minutes from the home side, Kaikai put Cambridge in front and then, on 69 minutes, a slapstick second came when keeper Harry Lewis fumbled a cross against Lavelle's head and back into the net.

Kachunga's diving header then converted Lyle Taylor's cross before Bennett rose at the far post to rub it in with seven minutes remaining.

United boss Simpson made two changes to Carlisle's previous XI, as Jack Ellis and Jack Armer came back into the side, taking the places of Fin Back and Jack Robinson, who both dropped out of the squad.

On the bench, meanwhile, was Dudik for the first time, with Paul Huntington also back among Carlisle's subs.

Cambridge also made two changes to their team, with Paul Digby and Kachunga coming into their XI.

Carlisle began at a rapid pace and applied strong pressure in the first ten minutes.

News and Star: Josh Vela and Luke Armstrong are denied by visiting keeper Jack StevensJosh Vela and Luke Armstrong are denied by visiting keeper Jack Stevens (Image: Barbara Abbott)

With Harrison Neal setting the tone with some strong midfield challenges, Carlisle forced a headed half-chance for Jack Diamond.

On six minutes they were then denied a penalty when Josh Vela broke into the box and looked to go through, going down under George Thomas's challenge but ref Scott Jackson unmoved.

Further lively Blues pressure brought another attempt from Diamond which was blocked, before Jordan Gibson had a goalbound shot blocked by Michael Morrison.

It was all Carlisle - but two Cambridge attacks later and the away side were in front, Harris's side finding space in front of the Blues box to the right before feeding Kaikai who, up against Ellis, made room to shoot across Lewis and into the bottom right corner.

United then survived a James Gibbons shot and a near-post Lyle Taylor chance before growing back into things, Vela seeing a looping header saved.

Kaikai saw Cambridge penalty appeals turned down after he went to ground when cutting past Gibson, before a pass from the latter at the other end just failed to set up Luke Armstrong.

An end-to-end affair saw Kachunga narrowly fail to make something of a chance to the left of United's goal, before Gibson had another shot blocked for Carlisle.

Danny Andrew then went close for Cambridge, curling a 30-yard free-kick just wide of the top left corner.

Gibson tested Cambridge No1 Jack Stevens from long range towards the end of the half and Jon Mellish, who again started in midfield, was denied a penalty under Stevens' challenge, but signs of a true Carlisle fightback and real attacking cohesion remained elusive.

In the second half's opening stages Gibson remained an outlet for Carlisle but one driving run from the middle ended with Diamond being tackled in the box.

Another break saw two Gibson crosses unrewarded before Jack Lankester failed to make the most of a good Cambridge position.

News and Star: Anton Dudik, left, made his debut as Carlisle crashed to defeatAnton Dudik, left, made his debut as Carlisle crashed to defeat (Image: Barbara Abbott)

Cambridge frontman Taylor grew frustrated with the officials while Diamond, under pressure, shot wide from the D for Carlisle.

Taylor then headed a Kaikai cross over at the near post, before Armer's cross for Armstrong was bundled behind by the visiting defence.

Simpson then sent on Dudik for his debut, the Ukrainian replacing Ellis, with Dan Butterworth also taking Diamond's place on 64 minutes.

But the new arrivals had little chance to make an impact before Carlisle unravelled in the space of three second-half minutes.

First, Kaikai's cross from the right was fumbled by Lewis and the ball ricocheted against captain Lavelle's head and back into the United net for Cambridge's second.

Then Taylor got free to the left to supply Kachunga to head home from close range.

A number of Blues fans took this as their cue to leave, with Simpson's side sliding to yet another dismal defeat.

Carlisle looked broken, and their misery deepened on 83 minutes when, after a Cambridge corner, Bennett got up highest to head home a cross from the left.

In added time Lewis denied sub Adam May a fifth when clean through before ref Jackson's final whistle ended the misery.

United: Lewis, Ellis (Dudik 64), Armer, Lavelle, Barclay, Mellish, Neal, Vela, Gibson, Diamond (Butterworth 64), Armstrong. Not used: Breeze, Huntington, McCalmont, Charters, Grehan.

Booked: Mellish, Butterworth.

Cambridge: Stevens, Andrew, Morrison, R Bennett, Gibbons (L Bennett 83), Thomas, Digby, Thomas (May 74), Lankester, Kachunga (Cousins 74), Taylor (Bonne 74). Not used: Mannion, Brophy, Rossi.

Goals: Kaikai 14, Lavelle 69og, Kachunga 72, R Bennett 83.

Booked: Taylor.

Ref: Scott Jackson.

Crowd: 6,877 (442 Cambridge fans).