They were unable to call upon Jake Salisbury, Ric Coar, Jerome Jolly or Jonny Hothersall but were boosted by the return of Cameron Ross and two new signings in Kyle Preece and Jose Ferreira.
The game’s opening 10 minutes were frenetic and the Riversiders got off to the worst possible start when, inside 35 seconds, they fell behind as Callum Birdsall turned home a free-kick from close range.
Garstang could have got back in the game from the restart when Ben Roberts used his pace to collect Alan Coar’s through ball but shot wide under pressure.
Cleator’s next attack on six minutes saw them go 2-0 up when Tom Mahone gave Will Kitchen no chance from close range.
Garstang’s heads did not drop and they were were back in the game two minutes later when Alan Coar got in front of his marker to head home.
Nevertheless, a fourth goal in the opening 13 minutes arrived when sloppy defensive play saw Thomas Ward restore Cleator’s two-goal lead at 3-1.
As the half progressed some defensive order was restored with Jack Swindlehurst and Tom Graham winning a lot more tackles in the centre of the pitch, which in turn, allowed the dangerous Roberts and Andrew Murphy to see more of the ball in attacking areas.
Garstang had a number of chances to bring the game level but, at half-time, they trailed 3-1.
The Riversiders started the second half playing into a strong wind, which seemed to help them as longer balls were no longer running out of play.
Despite being 3-1 up, the home side started to look short of ideas and it appeared they had settled for what they already had.
This proved to be their undoing as Murphy shot home to make it 3-2 with 15 minutes left before the equaliser came when Roberts cut in from the left and curled a shot into the top corner.
Cleator started to lose a degree of self-control with their only real effort being a free-kick tipped onto the top of the bar by Kitchen.
With the clock running down, Roberts once again cut in from the left and hit a pinpoint shot low into the bottom corner.
The remaining minutes saw the Riversiders play with their heads and comfortably close out the game to secure a first league win for the new management regime.