Swindon Town conceded six minutes into added time as Carlisle United snatched victory at the County Ground and ended The Robins three match unbeaten league run.
Jack Armer’s impressive opener gave The Cumbrians the lead shortly after the restart before substitute Tyrese Shade levelled with 10-minutes of the game remaining, but Town were dealt a late blow as Ryan Edmondson popped up to poke the ball home with just seconds left on the clock.
Another important league fixture against the divisions second placed side brought more changes to Jody Morris’ starting eleven, as Joe Tomlinson, Dylan Kadji and Reece Devine made way for Jake Cain, Jacob Wakeling and new defensive acquisition Tom Brewitt.
Academy ace Harrison Minturn was given his second straight start after impressing in last weekend’s draw at Leyton Orient, and Rushian Hepburn-Murphy lined up alongside captain Charlie Austin as the front two.
Referee Sam Purkiss, who was unfortunately carried off on a stretcher last time he was at The County Ground after being struck by a ball in The Robins clash with Grimsby, was welcomed back as the main match official for the clash.
After a nervy opening from both sides, it was Town who created the first chance of the tie seven minutes in, as Jonny Williams turned well inside his own half to take two Carlisle players out the game and drive forward at pace.
He then laid it to his right for Rushian Hepburn-Murphy to twist and turn his marker inside the box, but his dangerous cross or shot sailed across the area with no Town player able to convert it – a really good opportunity.
Bookings for Callum Guy and Jacob Wakeling followed in a first quarter that delivered very little in the way of chances for either side.
In fact, we had to wait until minute 27 for the ties next opportunity which fell to The Cumbrians.
A corner swung in from the left by Jack Armer found the leap of captain Morgan Feeney at the far post, but his header went wide of the left post under good pressure from two Town defenders.
On 31-minutes Paul Simpson’s side tried their luck again, as Owen Moxon delivered a dangerous whipped free-kick into the box from the left which was flicked goalwards by Joe Garner, but Sol Brynn, backpedaling, did well to catch it on his line.
And just 60-seconds later, Harrison Minturn was called upon to make a last ditch challenge inside his own box as Callum Guy’s forward header caused confusion, but the young defender was on hand to block Jon Mellish’s low strike on goal.
With just a minute left off normal time, Town went up the other end and should probably have broken the deadlock.
Mellish misjudged his clearance at the back which led to the ball looping towards his own goal and setting Hepburn-Murphy clear, but the forward chose to use his head rather than volley, and sent his tame effort wide of the left post.
A tale of two sides cancelling each other out with not a lot to choose between them as the interval arrived.
Into the second period and Town started brightly.
Just four minutes into the restart and Rushian Hepburn-Murphy found himself clear through on goal following great work from Jacob Wakeling to drive forward and slide him through, but his effort was smothered by the onrushing, six-foot nine-inch, Tomas Holy, and was followed by the linesman’s flag.
Then a huge blow for the hosts as Carlisle took the lead on 51-minutes.
A clever corner driven towards the near post from the left saw Charlie Austin inadvertently head the ball off the underside of his own crossbar, and with the ball partially cleared, Jack Armer stepped up to lash a spectacular effort into the top left hand corner, giving Sol Brynn no chance.
Town looked to respond immediately and probably should have equalised, as another trademark George McEachran free-kick from the left side found the unmarked Charlie Austin, who beat Holy to the ball but not the left hand post – unlucky for the marksman.
The game seemed to be opening up a little with various players from both sides going into the book, but it was the visitors who went close next as we approached the hour mark.
Joel Senior ran at Jacob Wakeling on the right side before shifting it past his man and driving one low across goal, but fortunately for Jody Morris’ side, it missed everyone and went out for a throw on the far side.
Then it was Swindon’s turn to try their luck again, as McEachran stung the fingertips of Tomas Holy with a powerful, close range free-kick that beat the wall but not the giant Czech stopper.
In a bid to change things up, Morris made a triple change, with Ronan Darcy, Tyrese Shade and Marcel Lavinier entering the action in place of Charlie Austin, Jake Cain and Harrison Minturn.
And it was duo Lavinier and Shade who combined to force the equaliser and get Swindon back on level terms on 80-minutes.
The Cumbrians failed to clear a cross from Remeao Hutton on the right, and with Lavinier’s initial strike on target deflected off a Carlisle body, it fell nicely for Shade to knock it past Holy with a left footed shot and see it nestle into the bottom right hand corner of the net.
With Town’s tails seemingly up, Morris swapped Wakeling for Luke Jephcott and his side continued to probe forward as we entered the last eight minutes of the tie.
But with five minutes of added time added and Swindon still in the ascendency, Carlisle were awarded a corner which was swung deep to the far post and was nodded in by Ryan Edmondson to send the 558 visiting supporters into raptures, and condemn Town to a heartbreaking loss on home turf.
Swindon Town Line-up: 3-5-2
1. Sol Brynn (GK) – 4. Tom Clayton, 12. Tom Brewitt, 31. Harrison Minturn (28. Tyrese Shade 66mins), 24. Jacob Wakeling (15. Luke Jephcott 81mins), 2. Remeao Hutton, 16. Jake Cain (10. Ronan Darcy 66mins), 5. George McEachran, 8. Jonny Williams, 11. Charlie Austin © (22. Marcel Lavinier 66mins), 19. Rushian Hepburn-Murphy.
Subs not used: 41. Jack Copland (GK) – 21. Dylan Kadji, 9. Tomi Adeloye.
Scorers: Shade 80
Yellow Cards: 24. Wakeling 17mins, 4. Clayton 70mins, 11. Austin 58mins, 28. Shade 87mins.
Red Cards: None
Carlisle United Line-up: 5-3-2
1. Tomas Holy (GK) – 5. Morgan Feeney ©, 2. Joel Senior, 6. Paul Huntington, 22. Jon Mellish, 3. Jack Armer, 35. Alfie McCalmont (7. Jordan Gibson 69mins), 8. Callum Guy, 4. Owen Moxon, 41. Joe Garner (9. Ryan Edmondson 69mins), 10. Omari Patrick (36. John-Kymani Gordon 81mins).
Subs not used: 30. Michael Kelly (GK) – 33. Jack Robinson, 17. Corey Whelan, 14. Kristian Dennis.
Scorers: Armer 51, Edmondson 90+6
Yellow Cards: 35. McCalmont 56mins, 4. Moxon 76mins, 8. Guy 9mins
Red Cards: None
Referee: Sam Purkiss
Assistant Referees: Daniel Flynn & Ryan Whitaker
Fourth Official: Abigail Byrne
Attendance: 9,330 (558 away fans)