Carlisle won at the Mechanics Ground for the second time this season despite 10-man Blackpool’s second-half fightback.
The Cumbrians came from two down to win their Hallmark Security League clash and AFC threatened to do likewise in this Reusch First Division Cup first round tie only to concede a late winner.
Josh Smith dropped into an unfamiliar back four role for AFC as the visitors opened at a rattling pace, forcing keeper Callum Kirkland into a full-length save to tip a header round a post.
But the keeper was helpless on 18 minutes, when Junior Green shot home from close range. The post came to AFC’s rescue when Ryan Errington curled a shot, then Kirkland saved with his legs.
Just as AFC were beginning to establish a foothold, they suffered a double blow when right-back Jackson Hulme was sent off for deliberate handball on 35 minutes and Errington fired the penalty into the top corner.
The 10 men took the game to the visitors after half-time as Ben Duffield scored on 50 minutes with a low shot into the corner from the edge of the area.
Despite their one-man disadvantage, AFC piled the pressure on and Aaron Fleming forced the keeper into a smart save before scoring a deserved equaliser on 65 minutes with a curling free-kick.
And AFC’s great escape looked to be on in the final 15 minutes, when Carlisle were also reduced to 10 men following a headbutt by substitute Allan on captain Marc Taylor.
But James Tose headed the winner on 80 minutes, when AFC failed to clear a free-kick
Blackpool could not created any further chances to equalise, but this was a much-improved performance to take into Tuesday’s home clash with St Helens (7.45pm).
AFC Blackpool: Kirkland, Hulme, Stevens, Taylor, Corbett, Smith, Charnley, Betteridge, Williams, Duffield, Fleming; Subs: Ing, Dickson, Parker, Higgins.