Manager Steven Pressley has told Carlisle United’s players they must do "the basics of football" better if they are to get their play-off bid back on track.

The Blues are preparing for another clash with League Two play-off rivals when they play host to Swindon this weekend.

Pressley’s side have taken just two points from their last five matches, with the latest defeat at Newport County on Saturday sending the Cumbrians down to ninth.

But, despite their recent poor form, which has seen United fail to pick up a league victory since claiming a 1-0 success at Port Vale on January 26, Carlisle remain just a single point outside the play-offs in a tight race.

Pressley, though, admits his side have got to get back to winning ways quickly.

He said: “We can’t give away goals like we have in recent weeks, the basics of football, we have to do them better.

“We will analyse, prepare for this weekend and be ready again.”

Ade Azeez and Padraig Amond scored in either half for Newport at Rodney Parade, while Carlisle captain Danny Grainger saw his late penalty saved by County keeper Joe Day.

Pressley praised his young players for their performances’ despite the defeat.

“I thought our younger players were the best players, they played with great energy and tenacity, and great composure on a difficult pitch,” the 45-year-old former Scotland defender said.

“Any time in the first half we strung several passes together, we looked like we could carve them open. I thought we played some really exciting football in the first half. We just didn’t deal with the basics. 

“H [Hallam Hope’s] chance early, when it runs through, I actually think on a different pitch the ball would have held up a bit, it seemed to keep going and going, then it fell back to Culls [Mark Cullen] and it was a deflection wide.

"We had a chance from a corner and there were other moments in the game - for example when the ball flashed across from [Regan] Slater that, on another day, we should score from. 

“There were good moments but we lost from the two moments that you have to guard against coming to Newport. They’re a very effective team at it but we have to stand up to that part of it.”

United today will play a reserve friendly at Middlesbrough. Preston loan frontman Connor Simpson and fit-again Jason Kennedy could feature, while Pressley has suggested there won’t be any trialists involved.

Swindon owner Lee Power, meanwhile, says he has put in about £6m of his own money to try and get the club promoted. 

The Robins, managed by Richie Wellens, are 10th in the league table, a point behind Carlisle, with a game in hand.