Steven Pressley admitted Carlisle United’s recurring set-piece problems cost them once again at Bradford.

The Bantams’ second goal came as the Cumbrians failed to defend a free-kick.

It was the latest set-play goal they have conceded this season and proved crucial in their 3-1 defeat.

Pressley admitted the issue was holding his side back and challenged his players to show a better “mentality”.

Asked if United needed to change the way they approach set-pieces, the manager said: “We’ve already changed a couple of things. We’ve tried.

“But ultimately my opinion of set-plays is you can go zonal, or man-to-man – but it’s a mentality.

“We’re clear and precise in our preparation. But on these key moments players have to do their jobs.

“We’ve conceded too many [like this] and they’re costly, because we’re doing so many good things.

“When you lose a goal from these moments they change games. I’m disappointed and we have to work and work and work at both the marking and the mentality.

“That’s the biggest thing on these moments. The mentality not to lose a goal.

“We are working so hard to become a good team and in this league if you don’t defend set-plays and don’t score set-plays it can be a huge factor on the outcome.”

An eventful game saw Olufela Olomola put United in front before Harry Pritchard levelled for the Bantams.

Jack Bridge was then sent off for a second bookable offence with Kelvin Mellor then putting Bradford ahead.

Ex-United man Ben Richards-Everton was dismissed in the second half for the hosts but Carlisle could not capitalise and sub Zeli Ismail wrapped up Bradford’s win late on as United were left 18th after 10 league games.

Pressley felt midfielder Bridge’s sending-off was a major factor in the direction of the game and claimed it was a harsh decision by ref John Busby. The ex-Northampton man is likely to be suspended for next Saturday’s league clash with Oldham.

He said: “He’d started the game brilliantly. I was disappointed because he’d twice broken clear in the midfield and twice been impeded, but Jack didn’t go down when he could have on a number of occasions.

“To go down, probably the referee would have shown the yellow card. You’re getting penalised for being honest in football. Sean Dyche [the Burnley manager] has spoken about this. We need to penalise the players that are throwing themselves down and commend the players like Jack who stayed on his feet.

“I’m really disappointed the referee made the call, because I don’t think it was a sending-off. I think it was Jack’s first foul since he’d been booked. I thought it was an extremely harsh decision that affected the outcome of the game.”

Pressley said his side had started impressively but also lamented Carlisle’s inability to get back into things after the break.

“I thought the opening 30 minutes was probably our best 30 minutes of the season,” he said. “We were terrific. Our counter-attack play was really strong, our shape was good, we controlled long periods and we felt really comfortable with the start we’d made.

“I was so happy with what I was seeing. Everything we’d talked and worked towards we were getting, and looked really dangerous. But everything changed not just on the [equaliser] but the sending-off.

“After that it was frantic, and we had to make a number of changes, but I felt once I got them in the dressing room we adjusted well at the start of the second half and looked in the game

“But I still felt in the final third in the second half, our quality could have been a little bit better.”

Pressley said he was “proud” of his team’s effort despite United’s inability to escape the bottom half of League Two.

“I’m frustrated of course but I think in recent weeks we’ve seen real improvements and that’s an important factor,” he said.

“We’re disappointed we didn’t win here, but I feel we’re beginning to see real green shoots in our performances and beginning to move forward.”