The first half was goalless but the hosts extended their unbeaten run with two second half goals.
First, Kennedy scored from close in and then former U's striker Jabo Ibehre headed home from a corner.
The unchanged U’s began the game showing confidence in their own ability on the ball, keeping possession well in the early minutes.
It was the hosts though that had the best of the early chances, with Grainger’s deflected effort hitting the post, before Kennedy really should have done better with a header from a corner.
On nine minutes, the U’s had their first real foray into the Carlisle area, with Denny Johnstone’s low cross cleared after a positive run forward from Kurtis Guthrie.
Winger Drey Wright was seeing a lot of the ball and on fifteen minutes, caused a couple of problems for Carlisle.
First, his low cross was hurriedly cleared and then after cutting inside he shot just wide of the target.
Carlisle were unbeaten in ten league fixtures and the confidence was evident on twenty minutes when a flowing move ended with a shot being blocked.
Johnstone and Richard Brindley then combined well on the right, and when the latter’s pullback found Tarique Fosu, the loanee’s effort was well blocked by a resolute home defence.
Neither keeper had been severely tested in the opening forty minutes and that continued until half time when Brindley blocked a volley from Adams and Lewis Kinsella shot well wide from distance.
That changed four minutes into the second period, with Sam Walker making two world class saves in the space of thirty seconds.
First he had to change direction to tip a free kick wide and then he managed to get fingertips to a header to push it onto the crossbar.
His luck ran out a minute later though, with the home side making the most of some U’s uncertainly at set pieces.
Walker made an instinctive save when the U’s lost the initial header but the ball fell kindly to Kennedy and he couldn’t miss from a yard out to give Carlisle the lead.
The U’s bossed the following minutes as they looked for an equaliser and dangerman Wright had the first chance to do so.
Craig Slater broke forward before finding the youngster on the right, but the angle was tight and Gillespie in the home goal got his positioning just right at his near post.
Johnstone was gifted the ball from a sloppy pass out from the home keeper Gillespie but couldn’t get a shot away.
On sixty three minutes, John McGreal introduced Dion Sembie-Ferris for Fosu and he watched fellow youngster Szmodics have the best chance two minutes later.
Szmodics made a great off the ball run between the centre halves and took the ball down with a delightful first touch.
With options a plenty, he chose to try a delicate chip over the onrushing keeper but got too much on it and the ball safely cleared the bar.
The young forward then had another chance to level things up, but his diving header was blocked after Luke Prosser won the first header into the box.
Chris Porter, who scored as a substitute on Tuesday at Crawley, came on for Wright but it was the Carlisle sub, a man well known to the U’s, who settled things.
Jabo Ibehre rose highest from another corner and his downward header caught out Walker, who could only help it into the net to make it 2-0 to Carlisle.
He then appeared to be a magnet for the ball, being involved in three attacks for the hosts in quick succession.
A header straight at Walker was followed by a turn and shot that wouldn’t have counted because the referee spotted a handball.
Ibehre then received another good ball into his feet and a smart turn wasn’t equalled by the finish as the ball flew yards over the bar.
Slater put the final U’s chance over the bar as well, and the only excitement in the final minutes was referee Graham Salisbury having to be replaced by the fourth official.
The final whistle went after five minutes of injury time, with the U’s having to make the long journey home with no points to show for their endeavours.