Carlisle United 0 Coventry City 1: Carlisle United ended 2017 with defeat as Marc McNulty's goal early in the first half made the difference for Coventry.

The striker took advantage of defensive midjudgements to latch onto a ball from the left and slot it past Jack Bonham.

United's No1 kept the Blues in it when he then saved a McNulty penalty.

But Carlisle seldom threatened to find a way back and a first defeat in four saw them fall a place to 13th in League Two, six points adrift of the play-off places.

Reggie Lambe and Richie Bennett came closest for unchanged Carlisle in a tight first half.

Lambe went close with a 25-yard effort on 40 minutes as the Blues ended the half on the front foot.

Later, a Danny Grainger corner went just wide via a Clint Hill challenge and a Coventry defender.

Tom Davies then blocked Bennett's hooked attempt.

Davies had earlier got in the way of a Hallam Hope strike, with United's penalty appeals for handball dismissed by ref Scott Oldham.

Coventry forced few real first-half chances, Devon Kelly-Evans having one attempt parried by Jack Bonham, and United blocking a McNulty effort.

The visitors brought on Duckens Nazon for Stuart Beavon at the break but it was McNulty that broke the deadlock, taking advantage of space to beat Bonham on 50 minutes.

The Sky Blues could have added more, often counter-attacking effectively, the offside flag sparing United when another sub, Max Biamou, backheeled home after Tom Bayliss had hit the post.

Bennett tested Lee Burge with a rare attempt before the visitors again broke, and after McNulty went past Gary Liddle, Mike Jones upended Jordan Shipley in the box.

Bonham guessed right to keep out McNulty's 75th-minute penalty, but Carlisle couldn't make the most of their reprieve, Jamie Devitt and Grainger failing with late free-kicks.

The Blues, who were again without the injured Luke Joyce, next go to Mansfield on New Year's Day.

United: Bonham, Liddle, Hill, Parkes (O'Sullivan 61), Brown, Grainger, Jones, Devitt, Lambe (Etuhu 76), Hope (S Miller 71), Bennett. Not used: Bacon, T Miller, Cosgrove, Ellis.

Coventry: Burge, Grimmer, Willis (Hyam 18), Davies, Stokes, Kelly-Evans, Doyle, Bayliss, Shipley, McNulty, Beavon (Nazon 46, Biamou 56). Not used: O'Brien, Haynes, Stevenson, Ponticelli.