Carlisle United 1 Lincoln City 3: Carlisle were picked off by in-form Lincoln at Brunton Park as the Blues moved closer to League One relegation.

Sam Lavelle's goal proved a slim consolation as the Imps claimed a fifth straight win thanks to strikes from Ben House, Joe Taylor and Ted Bishop.

Results elsewhere meant the Cumbrians avoided being relegated on Easter Monday but they remain 13 points adrift of safety with 15 left to play for, the drop likely to be confirmed soon.

They were comfortably second best for the most part to play-off chasing visitors who are now unbeaten in 15, as Carlisle failed to build on their Good Friday win at Peterborough United.

House shot Michael Skubala's side in front after ten minutes then Taylor counter-attacked to make it two early in the second half.

Lavelle fired United back into it in the 80th minute but a late Bishop free-kick sealed it on an afternoon both sides hit the woodwork.

Paul Simpson handed Georgie Kelly his home debut as a second-half sub but it was a 26th defeat of the campaign for the Cumbrians.

Simpson made two changes to his side, with both Taylor Charters and Dylan McGeouch out of the squad through injury.

Jordan Gibson and Jack Robinson took their places in the Blues' XI.

Lincoln's side saw Ethan Erhahon came in for Danny Mandriou - while they were forced into a change during the warm-up as their ex-Blues loanee Lukas Jensen pulled out with injury, Jordan Wright taking his place in goal.

The visitors, though, showed no sign of being unsettled by the enforced change as they went on to dominate the early exchanges, and also claimed a tenth-minute lead.

Bishop had a shot blocked inside the first 30 seconds and, after Dan Butterworth was denied by Wright at the other end, more dominance of possession by the Imps led to the opener.

They pulled United apart with an attack that saw House fed between the lines before supplying Lasse Sorensen, and when his deep cross from the right was headed back by Taylor, House arrived in space to bury it.

From there Lincoln's confidence grew further and they often had United chasing shadows with their passing and movement.

Jack Ellis had to turn a dangerous Bishop cross wide, before House and Taylor were also denied.

Taylor, next, got a header on target from a Reeco Hackett cross, saved by Harry Lewis, and Carlisle were clearly missing McGeouch's passing qualities in midfield as Skubala's side continued to look far superior.

United struggled to make the most of a better spell after the half-hour mark as Friday's hat-trick hero Jon Mellish, again starting in midfield, was denied with a block from his shot outside the box, and then from the resulting corner, Robinson lifted a shot high over the bar from a decent position.

Robinson, from the left of midfield, then saw another shot blocked as Carlisle's pressing and movement improved, before Bishop found Paudie O'Connor in acres at the far post from an Imps corner, United managing to clear the danger in the six-yard box.

Taylor had a shot saved by Lewis with the final move of the half, and by the interval scores elsewhere involving Burton Albion and Cambridge United left the Blues 45 minutes from having relegation confirmed.

The Cumbrians then started the second half at pace and were close to levelling twice in its  opening two minutes.

First, Mellish arrived to meet Gibson's cross and his header forced a fine save from Wight.

Moments later Butterworth was released beyond the visiting defence and he fired low across the keeper...but saw the ball strike the right-hand post and bounce clear.

Another close shave then saw Barclay head a Robinson corner into Lavelle's path but it wouldn't quite fall for the captain.

Lincoln then swiftly broke - and doubled their lead, outnumbering Carlisle on the counter and Taylor getting free to the left of goal to fire House's pass clinically past Lewis.

It was now a long way back for United, who almost pulled one back when Butterworth's powerful volley was impressively tipped over by Wright.

Simpson then made a double change, introducing Kelly for his debut as Butterworth was withdrawn - his removal not to every supporter's liking - with Josh Emmanuel also coming on for Ellis.

Kelly soon met a Robinson cross but couldn't get enough power on the chance to trouble Wright, and after Sean Maguire and Jack Diamond then came on for Gibson and Armer respectively, Kelly attacked a Robinson corner but saw his powerful header blocked in front of the line.

Carlisle kept going and, after Luke Armstrong was denied from a half-chance, they pulled one back with ten minutes to go as sub Maguire did well to head a Robinson cross back into the middle, and Lavelle was there to hook a powerful shot past Wright.

Visiting skipper Paudie O'Connor then almost clinched it in the 86th minute, guiding a free-kick across Lewis and against the left-hand post, before Emmanuel tripped Bishop and the Lincoln No10 curled the resulting free-kick expertly out of Lewis's reach and into the top right corner.

The Imps ate up time effectively in Carlisle's half as they negotiated eight added minutes without difficulty, maintaining their promotion challenge as United remained on the road to relegation - Burton's eventual defeat to Barnsley meaning their seemingly inevitable fall back to League Two was delayed for at least another game.

United: Lewis, Ellis (Emmanuel 58), Armer (Diamond 67), Barclay, Lavelle, Robinson, Mellish, Neal, Gibson (Maguire 67), Butterworth (Kelly 58), Armstrong. Not used: Breeze, McCalmont, Grehan.

Goal: Lavelle 80.

Booked: Barclay, Emmanuel.

Lincoln: Wright, Sorensen (Eyoma 88), O’Connor, Roughan, Erhahon, Bishop, Mitchell, Hackett (Jackson 82), Moylan, House (Draper 82), Taylor (Makama 70). Not used: Burroughs, Duffy.

Goals: House 10, Taylor 53, Bishop 90.

Ref: Sebastian Stockbridge.

Crowd: 7,103 (724 Lincoln fans).