After been 2-0 up after an hour Town will be disappointed to come away from Brunton Park with only the one point.
Goals either side of half time from Peter Clarke and substitute Scott Arfield had given Town a good cushion, however the Cumbrians fought back and two headers from Francois Zoko and James Chester meant the points were shared on New Year's Day.
Lee Clark sprung a few surprises in his starting line up against Carlisle today. Irish international Kevin Kilbane made his first start for the Club in a midfield three alongside Joey Gudjonsson and Tom Clarke - who was making his 75th league start of his career. Clark set his side out in a 4-3-3 formation with Benik Afobe starting on the left of a front three including Lee Novak and Alan Lee.
Town were kitted out in their change kit of red and black stripes ready to face Carlisle for the first of four encounters over the next couple of months.
Carlisle had the first chance of the game in the 4th minute courtesy of an excellent free-kick from an old Town boy, James Berrett. Peter Clarke bundled over Craig Curran thirty yards out to give Carlisle their first free-kick of the game. Berrett swung in a fantastic free-kick on to the head of the waiting Gary Madine, thankfully for Town, the tall striker directed his header the wrong side of Alex Smithies goal.
Minutes later Town had their first attack of the game and forced Adam Collin into two brilliant saves. Firstly, Tom Clarke tested Collin low down after collecting a pass from Benik Afobe and then from the rebound Joey Gudjonsson had an excellent chance to open Town's account but hit his shot straight at Carlisle's 'keeper.
Kevin Kilbane's first major involvement in the game was to be the subject of a Carlisle penalty claim. Town's new recruit - wearing number 20 - allegedly blocked a Frank Simek cross with his arm; however, amid Carlisle penalty claims referee Eltringham awarded the Cumbrians their first corner of the game. From the resulting corner, taken by Berrett, Carlisle very nearly opened the scoring through the head of Madine; however, like his earlier chance he was unable to direct his header on goal.
In the 19th minute Alan Lee had his first chance of the game. Good interplay down Town's right involving Tom Clarke and Lee Peltier released the latter to attack Carlisle's left-back - Matty Robson. Peltier drove Robson back into his own box before firing a direct ball towards Lee. Lee did well to get a connection onto the ball; however, the cross was hit too hard for him to have any chance of directing it on goal.
After been put through some heavy Carlisle pressure, Town broke quickly in the 22nd minute and were almost rewarded when Afobe narrowly missed out on opening the scoring. Some good counter attacking play by Kilbane found Novak out on Town's left; he immediately skipped inside his marker and chipped a ball towards Afobe at the back stick. Sadly for the on-loan Arsenal striker he was unable to convert Novak's cross.
GOAL - Town opened the scoring in the 23rd minute courtesy of skipper Peter Clarke who in doing so scored his first goal of the season. After Berrett fouled Afobe down Town's right side, a Joey Gudjonsson free-kick found Lee Novak unmarked. His header was blocked well by Carlisle's 'keeper, however, Novak managed to collect the rebound and skilfully found Peter Clarke unmarked six yards out. Town's skipper then steadied himself and slotted the ball past a hapless Collins.
Carlisle responded well to going behind and very nearly drew level in the 30th minute courtesy of some excellent wing play from Ben Marshall. The on-loan Stoke midfielder skipped effortlessly inside Kilbane and Liam Ridehalgh before firing a drilled effort towards Smithies goal. Thankfully for the travelling Town fans, Marshall's effort struck the left hand post of Town's goal and fell to safety.
SUB - Greg Abbott made his first change of the game in the 38th minute when he replaced winger Ben Marshall with Paul Thirwell.
Good play by Alan Lee in the 42nd minute almost doubled Town's advantage. The striker's slide rule pass released Novak down Town's left, with only Afobe to aim for in the Carlisle box; Novak swung a fantastic cross towards the on rushing striker. Like his earlier chance, Afobe narrowly missed the cross, which flashed in front of him and away to safety.
HALF TIME; CARLISLE 0 TOWN 1
A Gudjonsson corner in the 47th minute offered Town their first opportunity of the second half, which Novak very nearly converted. A deep corner from the right was flick headed well by Afobe towards the far post. Waiting for Afobe's flick on was Novak who from five yards saw his effort blocked bravely by substitute Paul Thirwell.
Two minutes later and Town were back on the attack. Another deep cross - this time from the left - caused problems in the Cumbrians 18 yard box. Alan Lee had managed to wrangle free of his marker and head a neat ball back across the box towards the on rushing Lee Novak. Sadly for the Terriers, Adam Collin's reacted well to the danger and pounced on the ball before Novak could connect with it.
Carlisle created their best opportunity of the half in the 55th minute, which allowed Frank Simek to have a shot at Smithies goal. Some good, neat interplay between Madine and Craig Curran on the edge of Town's area released Simek down the side of Ridehalgh with a shooting opportunity. From 18 yards out the right-back controlled his shot well but failed to force Smithies into a save.
SUBS - Both managers made alterations to their starting line up in the 58th minute. For Carlisle Mike Grella was replaced by Francois Zoko, and for the Terriers Alan Lee was bought off in place of Scott Arfield.
Lee Clark's switch in personnel bought with it a change in formation for Town. With Arfield entering the fray Town created a diamond in midfield to match up man-for-man with Carlisle.
After some mad scrambling in Carlisle's penalty area in the 61st minute, Nathan Clarke rifled a snap shot onto Collin's bar. Carlisle failed to clear a Gudjonsson corner and the ball had managed to find the feet of Clarke, who instantly fired the ball from six yards on to the woodwork.
GOAL - Town doubled their advantage in the 63rd minute thanks to substitute Scott Arfield, who calmly beat Collin from 12 yards. Slick interplay between Kilbane and Ridehalgh down Town's left allowed the latter to swing a cross into Carlisle's penalty area. After a neat dummy by Afobe, Lee Novak laid the ball off to the on rushing Arfield who confidently beat Collin to score his 4th goal of the season.
GOAL - Carlisle got back into the game in the 72nd minute when Francois Zoko converted a cross from the Carlisle right. Simek's near post cross was flicked on well towards Zoko at the back stick who found himself complete unmarked and duly abliged in placing his header past Smithies.
SUB - Lee Clark made his second change of the game in the 74th minute, replacing the lively Benik Afobe with Jordan Rhodes.
SUB - Greg Abbott made his final substitution of the game in the 79th minute when forward Ryan Bowman was introduced at the expensive of Craig Curran.
Alex Smithies was forced into an excellent save in the 81st minute from a downward Berrett header. Substitute Zoko was again in the thick of things and neatly chipped a ball towards Berrett at the back stick. The former Town midfielder fired a low header at Town's goal but was unable to beat his former teammate.
GOAL - Town let their lead slip in the 83rd minute when James Chester converted a James Berrett corner to make the score 2-2. Smithies had earlier made a fantastic save from Gary Madine, but was unable to stop the bullet header courtesy of Chester from eight yards out.
A pacey counter-attack in the 89th minute almost put Town back into the lead. Quick interplay between Novak and Rhodes allowed the latter to find an unmarked Arfield in the Carlisle penalty area. Arfield took the pass from Rhodes in his stride but could only manage to fire over from 16 yards out.
FULL TIME: CARLISLE 2 TOWN 2
Town's team (4-3-3):
Alex Smithies; Liam Ridehalgh, Peter Clarke (c), Nathan Clarke, Lee Peltier; Kevin Kilbane, Tom Clarke, Joey Gudjonsson; Benik Afobe (Jordan Rhodes 74), Alan Lee (Scott Arfield 58), Lee Novak
Unused subs: Ian Bennett, Gary Roberts, Anthony Pilkington, Chris Atkinson, Graham, Carey.