Crawley 3 Carlisle United 3: Some draws go down in the point gained category, others in the two points dropped category. This will certainly go down in the latter for Carlisle.

Having fought back from 2-0 down to take the lead, United looked set for a vital victory that potentially could have brought their campaign – stuck in pause for so long – back to life.

But Crawley, looking for one more result to confirm their Football League survival, delivered the final blow in stoppage time to take a share of the spoils from this contest.

Carlisle manager Keith Curle had been happy with his side’s performance in their 1-1 draw against Stevenage and named an unchanged starting line-up for this clash at the Stadium.

Dermot Drummy, Crawley head coach, had called for a fast start from his team and it was the hosts who began on the front foot. Dangerous midfielder Dean Cox sent a menacing ball into the United penalty box, but the Cumbrians cleared the danger.

It wasn’t until the ninth minute that the first clear-cut opportunity of the game was created. A clever flick from Jamie Proctor gave Jamie Devitt room just outside the box as he fired against home keeper Glenn Morris’ right-hand post. Skipper Danny Grainger then shot wide with a follow-up attempt.

But it was the Red Devils who broke the deadlock on 12 minutes. Top scorer James Collins found himself in space and rifled into the top corner in emphatic style from around 25 yards out.

United looked for a response and in-form Jabo Ibehre found the net five minutes later, although referee Darren Deadman had already blown his whistle for a foul by the striker.

Grainger then played an instrumental role in his side’s next opportunity in the 20th minute. He found Reggie Lambe with a fabulous cross-field ball. The winger’s cross from the right evaded everyone in the box and founds it way to Grainger, whose left-wing delivery found Proctor. But the frontman was denied by Morris.

Crawley doubled their lead from the penalty spot. Referee Darren Deadman adjudged Carlisle keeper Mark Gillespie to have brought down Collins, and the home team’s top scorer dusted himself down to confidently dispatch the spot-kick.

Things appeared bleak at this stage for the visitors. But they pulled a goal back before the half-hour mark when Ibehre scored his fourth goal in as many games after a right-footed long ball by Grainger.

Ibehre poked past Crawley keeper Morris, who picked up a knock in the process of conceding the goal. He was replaced by substitute goalkeeper Yusuf Mersin after a short delay.

That goal seemed to bring the Blues to life and they could have levelled on the 34th minute. Lambe produced an excellent run to break through the Crawley defence, but fired over after doing all the hard work.

But the Cumbrians did level before the break. Gary Liddle whipped in a delivery from the right and Proctor powered a header into the net against his old club, before putting his index finger to his lips as he received boos from the home fans.

There was to be one chance for either side in first-half stoppage time. Right-back Lewis Young broke forward for the hosts before shooting wide, while Grainger missed the target with a free-kick in a promising area with the teams going in level pegging at the end of the first period.

Neither team managed to create many opportunities after the restart until just before the hour mark.

But Curle’s side had started the second period the better, and were beginning to show why they have amassed 15 more points than their hosts in their League Two campaign this season.

And they took the lead, and completed their comeback, as Lambe rounded Mersin to find the empty net after a superb ball by Proctor had split the home defence open.

By and large, the Blues looked comfortable after taking the lead, although they were delivered a warning on the 67th minute.

A chance opened up for Crawley captain Jimmy Smith, only for the skipper to miskick as the ball rolled wide.

Josh Payne was the next Crawley man to try his luck, 11 minutes from time. The one-time West Ham youngster fired inches wide of Gillespie’s right-hand post in a real heart-in-mouth moment for the 224 travelling supporters who had taken the 700-mile round trip.

A minute later, with what would prove to be Carlisle’s last real opportunity of note, a Luke Joyce effort was deflected wide for a corner.

It’s fair to say, unlike the stunning strike he scored from when the two teams met at Brunton Park earlier this season in a Carlisle win, this was not quite the same quality of strike.

Payne again let fly on the 85th minute as his effort from outside the area went through a crowded penalty box, and stopper Gillespie did well to save and hold on to the ball with a number attacking players ready to pounce on any rebound.

Collins’ best chance to secure his hat-trick came two minutes later. He flicked a Cox free-kick goal wards, with the ball landing on the roof of the net after the header.

But Crawley did manage to secure an equaliser few would have seen coming in the final moments.

A long ball founds its way to Smith who fired past Gillespie to secure Crawley’s Football League status for another season – and put another dent in Carlisle’s faltering play-off bid this campaign.

Ibehre slumped to the ground as Smith’s strike found the net, while a number of other United team-mates fell to the floor at full-time.

There is little doubt the draw felt like a loss to the Carlisle contingent.

Wycombe and Mansfield both took advantage of United’s slip-up with the Blues now 10th in the League Two table.

And, although still only a point outside the play-offs, Carlisle will have to win both of their final games – and hope those above them drop points – due to their inferior goal difference.