Carlisle United 0 Blackpool 1: Carlisle equalled a club record for defeats in a league season as Blackpool led from the first minute at Brunton Park.

Karamoko Dembele's strike after 35 seconds was enough to send the Blues to a 28th loss of the League One campaign.

That is the joint worst tally in club history, matching the defeats total of their 1986/87 side with two games to go.

And Paul Simpson's already-relegated side seldom looked like disputing that outcome as Neil Critchley's play-off chasers did enough.

Blackpool were far superior in a one-sided first half without being clinical enough to put the game to bed.

Carlisle made a more even fist of it after the break but couldn't create enough chances to threaten the visitors.

It meant an eighth defeat in nine home games since New Year's Day, Carlisle taking one point in that spell on their way back to League Two.

United boss Simpson made one change to his starting XI as Jack Ellis came back in for the injured Fin Back.

There was a first home start for Georgie Kelly in attack, while Harrison Neal was fit to start despite a knock in Tuesday night's win at Cheltenham Town.

News and Star: Luke Armstrong on the attack for UnitedLuke Armstrong on the attack for United (Image: Ben Holmes)

Youth team defender Josh O'Brien, one of four teenagers awarded third-year scholarship deals by the Blues this week, was named among the subs along with Joshua Kayode - in the squad for a game at Brunton Park for the first time since May 2021.

There was again no place in the 18, though, for Jordan Gibson and Alfie McCalmont, with Simpson deciding against further squad changes despite the conclusion of the recent disciplinary issue over a night out involving some players.

Blackpool boss Critchley, meanwhile, named an unchanged XI and bench from their midweek win over Fleetwood Town.

And United were behind immediately as Dembele went through to score in the first minute.

A long throw down the right was headed on by Shayne Lavery, before Dembele got away from Harrison Neal and was too quick for the chasing Sam Lavelle as he clipped the ball past Harry Lewis.

It was the perfect start for the visitors, who were the more composed and dangerous side against a United team who struggled to put enough passes together.

Dembele shot just over from outside the box as Critchley's side pressed United, for whom Lavelle almost played in Luke Armstrong at the other end following a free-kick.

In the main, though, Carlisle made little headway into the teeth of the strong wind, Lavery twice denied before George Byers missed a free header following a corner.

United then suffered an injury blow as Jack Robinson stayed down after the corner and could not continue, eventually helped from the pitch in discomfort as Jayden Harris took his place.

Armstrong could have opened something up for Carlisle but failed to supply Harris on the edge of the box, before Lavery outpaced Paul Huntington before being denied by a heavy challenge by the captain which led to unsuccessful appeals for a penalty.

News and Star: Jack Robinson went off injured in the first halfJack Robinson went off injured in the first half (Image: Ben Holmes)

Sonny Carey's shot then deflected just wide before Lavery put a sitter over the bar as Blackpool opened Carlisle up down the left.

Lewis then clawed away another dangerous delivery as the Seasiders dominated, before suffering an injury of their own which saw Byers replaced by Albie Morgan.

United reached half-time grateful only to be one behind, such was their inferiority in the first 45 minutes.

Early in the second half Huntington denied Lavery before, for Carlisle, Jon Mellish and Kelly combined for Harris, who shot over the bar on the run.

Mellish's energetic running kept United in the contest and from a Neal corner on the left, Armstrong's header was nodded clear in front of the line by James Husband.

Lewis then denied Carey a second for Blackpool after Hayden Coulson's pass inside Neal had put the midfielder in to the left of goal.

Simpson then introduced Kayode for Armstrong, with Jack Diamond also replacing Ellis, Blackpool also making a double change which saw Matty Virtue and Jordan Gabriel on for CJ Hamilton and Lavery.

Both Kayode and Barclay failed to capitalise on decent counter-attacking positions down the right for United, before Kelly hooked wide a Diamond cross, Carlisle at least making a more even contest of things this half.

After a Coulson cross caused problems, Simpson was incensed by what he felt was an elbow-led challenge on Armer, before Carlisle had handball appeals dismissed after Harris's cross was blocked by Morgan.

United had a 90th-minute chance to level when Mellish ghosted onside onto a Neal cross but he shot wide, while Kelly headed an injury-time cross off target as rain hammered down onto Brunton Park in the fading minutes of their latest Brunton Park loss, Blackpool moving up a place to seventh in the process.

The result also means the Blues are certain to finish bottom of League One.

United: Lewis, Barclay, Huntington, Lavelle, Ellis (Diamond 66), Armer, Neal, Robinson (Harris 17), Mellish, Kelly, Armstrong (Kayode 66). Not used: Breeze, O’Brien, Emmanuel, Dudik.

Booked: Harris.

Blackpool: Grimshaw, Husband, Pennington, Ekpiteta, Coulson, Byers (Morgan 35), Carey, Hamilton (Virtue 66), Dembele (Kouassi 84), Lavery (Gabriel 66), Beesley (Joseph 84). Not used: O’Donnell, Casey.

Goal: Dembele 1.

Referee: Tom Reeves.

Crowd: 7,600 (1,548 Blackpool fans).