SAM Lavelle's first-half strike propelled Carlisle United to a well-earned 1-0 victory against Darrell Clarke's relegation-threatened Cheltenham Town days after the Blues League One demise was confirmed.

Paul Simpson's side took on Darrell Clarke's relegation-threatened Robins at the Completely-Suzuki Stadium three days after their return to the fourth tier was confirmed by defeat at Northampton Town. 

In a bid to dispel the post-relegation hangover at the first attempt, Simpson made two changes to his side with captain Paul Huntington and Fin Back replacing Jack Ellis and the injured Dan Butterworth.

Josh Kayode also made his return to the Blues matchday squad for the first time since September. 

It was the hosts who had the first notable attempt of the match after six minutes when Joe Nuttall found himself in space inside the Carlisle 18-yard box but he dragged his low effort comfortably wide of Harry Lewis' goal.

Carlisle would have to wait until the 13th minute for their first chance which came through Georgie Kelly but his low effort from distance was easy for Luke Southwood to deal with between the Cheltenham sticks. 

The match between relegated and relegation-threatened remained cagey in the early stages of the first half and Carlisle would have to wait until the 23rd minute for their next chance when Jack Armer scythed a long-range effort just over the top-left corner. 

The game would remain stagnant until the stroke of half-time when Carlisle would make their move when a Jack Robinson corner would be met by Ben Barclay and diverted into the pat of Sam Lavelle who poked home from close range to give the travelling Blues the lead at the break.

Clarke, clearly not happy with what he saw from his hosts made four changes at the break and they seemed to have an early impact with the Robins dominating possession after the break. 

However, in the face of this flurry, the Blues defended resolutely and almost made Cheltenham pay when Harrison Neal shot from distance in the 57th minute but saw his effort collected calmly by Southwood. 

As the half progressed the Blues would continue to be solid at the back even as the hosts looked to threaten down their left-hand side, with the introduction of Will Ferry at the break giving Cheltenham another dimension.

On 70 minutes the Blues boss would go to his bench for the first time in the evening with Back being replaced by Ellis and Josh Kayode making his first Carlisle appearance since September in the place of Georgie Kelly. 

Five minutes after his introduction, Kayode would almost have an instant impact when he put the pressure on an idle Southwood but the Robins' keeper just about kept his composure and cleared.

Moments later Mellish would almost catch the keeper out as well with a chipped effort from the right-hand side but again the Robins' shot-stopper recovered. 

As the game came to its close the hosts would win several threatening set pieces, with one on 87 minutes being dealt with well by Neal and Lewis confidently collected a second on 88 minutes, a characterisation of the Blues' solid showing at the back in Cheltenham.

Cheltenham would continue to knock on the door in the closing stages but every cross was met by a Carlisle head with the Blues battling to only their seventh league victory in Gloucestershire.

CARLISLE UNITED: Harry Lewis, Fin Back (Jack Ellis - 70'), Jack Armer, Sam Lavelle, Paul Huntington, Georgie Kelly (Josh Kayode - 70'), Jack Robinson, Jon Mellish, Ben Barclay, Harrison Neal, Luke Armstrong

SUBS: Gabe Breeze, Jayden Harris, Jack Diamond, Josh Emmanuel, Anton Dudik

CHELTENHAM TOWN: Luke Southwood, Sean Long, Ben Williams (Will Ferry - 46'), Tom Bradbury, Liam Kinsella (George Lloyd - 46'), Liam Sercombe, Josh Harrop (Jack Shepherd - 46'), Joe Nuttall (Adrian Keena - 65'), Jordan Thomas (Elliot Bonds - 46'), Curtis Davies, Tom Pett

SUBS: James Olayinka, Jamie Pardington