Steven Pressley says Carlisle United must now build on what he felt was their best performance since he took charge.

The Blues’ draw at play-off rivals Forest Green saw a major improvement on their efforts against Notts County.

Although United couldn’t turn some strong spells of pressure into three points, Pressley said their display in the 1-1 draw was much more like it from his players.

He believes their showing at the New Lawn will restore some confidence for their eight-game run-in.

“We played the game like I want us to play,” he said.

“It’s taken a wee bit of time and I’ve had to look at certain things, analyse certain things.

“We played slightly differently, with a 4-3-1-2 system, with Nathan Thomas and Hallam Hope as slightly wide strikers, and Jamie Devitt in the number 10 position, but going up into the striker position when they had possession in the back areas.

“We were flexible in that, and I thought it suited the players to play that way.

“I thought the players were excellent. Since I’ve been at the club that’s been our best performance thus far. I thought we were really, really controlled in and out of possession, and we dominated against a really good side and restricted them to very few opportunities.

“The disappointing aspect for me was that we had six or seven clear-cut chances, so for us to draw the game is disappointing. As a manager I understand it’s about winning, but I also look at the performance to see if I see improvement.

“The last couple of games I felt we just got away from the controlled performances that I’d seen in my first six or seven games, and we returned to that here. We were excellent.”

Thomas’ 49th-minute goal, his first for the club, saw United remain a point outside the play-off places in ninth.

Pressley added: “It’s a really important goal for him and the team, and I think it should give us real confidence.”

United’s boss also saluted Mike Jones for his strong display in midfield on his first start for three months.

He came in for Kelvin Etuhu, who was absent from the squad in order to be with his partner as she gave birth to their son on Friday.

Pressley said: “I know how important football is to everybody, but at times we’ve got to realise the most important people in your life are your family.

“We’re delighted for Kelvin – his good lady’s had their first child, a little boy, and he tells me he’s a good-looking boy like his father!

“It gave Jones the opportunity. Mike was in my office last week, desperate to play, which I really like. I said to him that sometimes opportunities come around when you least expect them and you’ve got to be ready.

“To be fair to him he’s trained unbelievably since I’ve come to the club, and that’s why, when he got his opportunity, he was ready, so well done to him.”

Pressley added that Jamie Devitt only joined up with the squad late as he had been with his wife in hospital. “The good thing is his wife seems now to be in good condition and he was able to come down [on Saturday] morning,” United’s boss said.

Wigton teenager Jarrad Branthwaite was on United’s bench for the first time, Pressley saying the 16-year-old defender was added to the squad after George Glendon pulled out with illness.