Carlisle United 2 Stevenage 2: Carlisle's hopes of a long-overdue home win were dashed by a 96th-minute Stevenage equaliser.

Terence Vancooten struck deep in added time to complete the visitors' late fightback.

Dan Butterworth had put Carlisle in control with a goal in either half.

The Blues were 2-0 up until the 82nd minute, but an Alex MacDonald penalty gave Steve Evans' side a lifeline and then fellow sub Vancooten pounced at the death.

It denied United a first home victory since New Year's Day with Paul Simpson's side 15 points from safety with seven games left in League One.

It turned into another afternoon of frustration after the Cumbrians, for long spells, appeared to have the better of things against their play-off chasing visitors, in front of a 7,634 crowd at a game where the Blues reduced ticket prices as part of their #onecarlisleonecommunity game.

Butterworth put them ahead in the 13th minute after a sweeping move, then a superb strike by the forward made it 2-0 on 65 minutes.

News and Star: Dan Butterworth celebrates his second goalDan Butterworth celebrates his second goal (Image: Barbara Abbott)

MacDonald, though, sent Lewis the wrong way after being fouled by Dylan McGeouch in the box and, after Jack Diamond failed to seal it with a great chance for United, Vancooten reacted quickest to a Harry Lewis save to salvage Stevenage a point.

Blues boss Paul Simpson made one change to the side that had started in the previous weekend's defeat at Shrewsbury Town, recalling Taylor Charters as Diamond dropped to the bench.

There was another start for Butterworth while there was again no place in the squad for Paul Huntington or Fin Back.

Evans' Stevenage side included five changes from their previous line-up as Elliott List, Nathan Thompson, Finley Burns, Jake Forster-Caskey and Kane Hemmings all came in for Luther Wildin, Vancooten, Vadaine Oliver, Ben Thompson and Jamie Reid, the latter on international duty with Northern Ireland.

The visitors were also without suspended defender Carl Piergianni.

Carlisle made a positive start and could have led inside two minutes when Jack Armer pounced on a defensive slip by Nathan Thompson and crossed for Luke Armstrong, who was free in the box, but the striker couldn't turn the delivery on target.

Stevenage looked to apply some pressure on the home defence but did not create any chances before the Blues broke for the lead.

Harrison Neal, against his former club, was the instigator with an excellent pass as he spotted Jack Ellis's run beyond the left side of the Stevenage defence.

Ellis crossed first-time - and Butterworth was free to fire home from close range.

There was another blow for the visitors moments later as Jake Forster-Caskey stayed down with an injury that saw him replaced by Vancooten.

United looked to stay on the front foot and a positive Jon Mellish run took him past two players before Ellis's header from the resulting cross wouldn't quite run for Armstrong.

At the other end, Jordan Roberts had a shot blocked from a flurry of Stevenage corners, but the visitors otherwise struggled to break through a determined United defence, who were well protected by some industrious midfield work by the likes of Neal.

Charters miscued a shot as United looked for a second, and then an Armer cross almost picked out Ellis, while Stevenage totted up nine corners in the first 45 minutes without hurting the Cumbrians.

News and Star: Taylor Charters on the ball for UnitedTaylor Charters on the ball for United (Image: Barbara Abbott)

It meant United were ahead in a home league game at half-time for the first time this season, and Evans responded by making a triple change at the break.

Early in the half Nick Freeman had a shot blocked for Stevenage, while Butterworth was also denied after Armstrong fed him on the break.

United should have had a second when Butterworth, from the left, found Charters in space advancing on goal, but the midfielder's touch was unconvincing and Stevenage got back to deny him.

But when the resulting corner broke for Butterworth, he sped away from attention outside the box before turning and pinging a superb left-footed shot away from keeper Craig MacGillivray and in off the post.

Stevenage tried to supply the tall substitute Oliver in United's box, and he headed one cross wide as Ben Thompson failed to make the most of a Ben Barclay interception that rolled into his path.

The visitors, though, then did get a route back when sub MacDonald tried to work an angle on the left and then went down under McGeouch's challenge.

Ref Daniel Middleton eventually pointed to the spot - and MacDonald sent Lewis the wrong way.

Carlisle could then have killed the game in the 87th minute when Charters fed sub Diamond with a measured pass but the sub - clean through - saw his finish saved by MacGillivray.

At the other end, United had a late bombardment of deliveries to deal with, and one saw Freeman have a shot blocked at the second attempt.

News and Star: Jack Diamond failed to make it 3-1 with this chanceJack Diamond failed to make it 3-1 with this chance (Image: Barbara Abbott)

Carlisle looked to have held on but a final cross from the left saw Oliver power a header on target and when Lewis parried it, Vancooten was there to the left and he fired home to save the game for Stevenage.

It was a first point in five games for United but it came in bittersweet fashion and relegation still looks likely to be confirmed in the coming games.

United: Lewis, Barclay, Lavelle, Mellish, Ellis, Armer, McGeouch, Neal, Charters, Butterworth (Diamond 79), Armstrong. Not used: Breeze, Gibson, McCalmont, Robinson, Maguire, Emmanuel.

Goals: Butterworth 13, 65.

Booked: Charters, Neal, Lewis.

Stevenage: MacGillivray, Butler, N Thompson, Sweeney, Forster-Caskey (Vancooten 15), Freeman, Burns, L Thompson (B Thompson 46), Roberts (Guinness-Walker 46), List (MacDonald 67), Hemmings (Oliver 46). Not used: Ashby-Hammond, Smith.

Goals: MacDonald 82pen, Vancooten 90.

Booked: Freeman, Roberts.

Ref: Daniel Middleton.

Crowd: 7,634 (232 Stevenage fans).