The only area of the pitch where the Toon looked at less than full strength was in attack where youngster Andy Carroll featured at the head of what was supposed to be a 4-3-3 formation, only to end up looking like a 4-5-1. The Cumbrians also seemed to line up in a 4-3-3, with newly appointed skipper Paul Thirlwell anchoring the midfield.
The visitors started brightly and it was the impressive Obafemi Martins who looked most up for the battle as his tricky play on the right forced Keiren Westwood into an excellent save early on. Martins and Carroll both had further chances to open the scoring for the Toon but some wayward finishing and stout defending from the Blues saved Newcastle taking the lead.
Joey Barton might be worth £5.8 million but he hadn't brought his shooting boots with him as he fired desperately wide twice as the visitors looked to crank up the pressure. In possession though Carlisle were holding on to the ball well themselves with Simon Hackney and Kevin Gall both getting efforts in on Toon keeper Steve Harper's goal before half-time came with the scoreline remaining 0-0.
Martins and Solano both peppered the Cumbrians goal early after the break before Graham fired wildly over for the Blues. After 55 minutes though Carlisle took a surprise lead after Nicky Butt had fouled Jeff Smith 35 yards out on the left. Marc Bridge-Wilkinson swung the free-kick in and there was the head of Danny Livesey to meet it on the penalty spot to send a thumping header back across Harper and into the far top corner of the net.
Shortly afterwards Barton's deflected drive from distance forced Westwood into a good reaction save as both sides started to make substitutions as they looked to pre-season fitness for all their players. Barton being the most significant change as he limped off with what would later be diagnosed as a broken bone in his left foot and a two month lay-off.
The Toon were pushing hard for an equaliser now and Westwood did well to push a Njitap Geremi free-kick around his post while seeing a Martins header fly straight into his gloves seconds later. Carlisle had their chances as well though with Graham firing straight at Harper from a good position and Livesey being given offside after turning a Luke Joyce shot into the Newcastle net.
You always sensed that the visitors were going to nick a leveller though and it finally did come, cruelly from a Blues perspective, in the first minute of stoppage time with one moment of international class from Solano. Kazenga LuaLua's cross in from the left being flicked on by Carroll to the Peruvian 18 yards out at the back-post, Solano teeing up a half-volley which he sent sailing back across Westwood with his right boot and into the proverbial postage stamp.
Livesey then having to make a last-ditch tackle to deny Charles N'Zogbia before the final whistle was blown by referee Mike Pike on what had been a very entertaining encounter, and one that will have left Toon boss Sam Allardyce with more to worry about than his Carlisle counterpart Neil McDonald. Livesey and Westwood yet again had standout games for the Cumbrians while Bridge-Wilkinson also impressed on his home debut.
United line-up :
Keiren Westwood, David Raven, Zigor Aranalde (Paul Arnison 60), Peter Murphy (Dan Kirkup 64), Danny Livesey, Marc Bridge-Wilkinson (Neale McDermott 60), Paul Thirlwell (Chris Lumsdon 60), Jeff Smith (Luke Joyce 76), Kevin Gall (Danny Carlton 60), Danny Graham, Simon Hackney (Ged Dalton 81).
Unused substitute :
Chris Howarth (GK).
Newcastle line-up :
Steve Harper (Tim Krul 82), Steve Carr (Mark Bertram 82), David Rozenhal (Paul Huntington 62), Joey Barton (Darren Lough 66), Kieron Dyer (James Troisi 76), Obafemi Martins (Kazenga LuaLua 76), Charles N'Zogbia, Nolberto Solano, Nicky Butt (Njitap Geremi 61), Peter Ramage (Alex Francis 82).
Unused substitutes :
Fraser Forster (GK) and James Milner.
Referee - Mike Pike (Barrow).
Attendance - 12,346.