Beginning life under new boss Chris Beech, Carlisle United frontman Nathan Thomas could hardly have wished for a better start at Forest Green.

Thomas netted in either half in the Blues’ 2-2 draw against Mark Cooper’s men in their FA Cup second-round tie.

The 25-year-old cancelled out Aaron Collins’s opener with a fine right-footed effort in the 40th minute, before he steered home substitute Hallam Hope’s cross after the restart, only for Gethin Jones to put through his own net minutes later after a Joseph Mills free-kick.

Sheffield United loan man Thomas was delighted to score twice at the New Lawn.

“They [Forest Green] don’t concede many goals,” he admits. “I think they have only conceded 13 [League Two goals] this season which is the best in the league.

"They are where they are in our league for a reason. They are probably one of the best teams in our league at the minute, and we stood toe-to-toe with them.

"At times, I thought they didn’t really know how to deal with us. We were devastating on the counter-attack.

"We showed how good we can be as a team at times, [but] it’s just about eradicating the little errors, and we will soon shoot up the league.

"Hopefully, we can get into the next round of the cup, as well."

Having only been appointed as Carlisle’s new head coach last Tuesday, former Rochdale midfielder and assistant manager Beech didn’t have long to prepare his new club for their first game under his stewardship.

“Obviously, it was difficult for the gaffer because he has to get a lot of his ideas across in a really short space of time. But the lads were fantastic,” Thomas explains.

"They took on board everything that he wanted to do, and it showed on Saturday. I think it was one of our better performances of the season.

"Yes, we didn’t win the game, but there are a lot of positives to take from the game."

Beech replaced former Scotland defender Steven Pressley in the Carlisle hot seat after United’s 3-1 defeat at Morecambe last month in their latest competitive trip to the Globe Arena, which saw the Cumbrians exit the Trophy.

Thomas says: “I think, first and foremost, as a squad, we didn’t do Steven justice.

“Our performances across the course of the season haven’t been good enough. Obviously, Steven paid for that.

“But, now, we all have a fresh start again. People who haven’t played can get an opportunity, look at Aaron [Hayden]. I thought he was fantastic, coming in for his first game, he was brilliant.

“It’s a fresh start for everybody, isn’t it? We can all step back, start again and, hopefully, put this club where it deserves to be because Carlisle United is far too big [as a club] to be sat where it is.

“So, hopefully, as a collective – the new manager, the staff and the players – we can start pushing this club in the right direction again.”

On his two goals, Thomas adds: “It’s massive for me because I pride myself on my goals and my assists.

"My assists have been okay this season, but my goal-scoring hasn’t been what I would like it to be.

"So, to get a couple on Saturday, hopefully it can help kick me on and, hopefully, I can make it a bit more of a regular occurrence now."

With a replay still to play against Forest Green next Tuesday, United now know a win in that tie will set-up an FA Cup third-round clash against Championship team Cardiff City, who have ex-Carlisle striker Gary Madine and former Workington Reds loan midfielder Will Vaulks among their ranks.

For now, though, Carlisle’s attention is on climbing back up the League Two table.

Asked if he felt the Cumbrians were in a relegation battle, now sitting five points clear of the only relegation place, Thomas replies: “No.

"I’ve said this before, and I’ve been in teams that shouldn’t have got relegated but they did. But there is far too much in this dressing room for the team to be where it is right now.

"We know what we need to be better at, and they’re not difficult things, it’s just tiny, little, details that we need to be better at and we will be a good team."

He continues: “You can’t just say ‘We’ll be alright’ though because, the next thing you know, it’s March. It’s about changing right now, starting this Saturday.

“We need to start eradicating the mistakes we have been making throughout the season. We need to be better in the final third because, of late, I think that’s dropped off, as well.

"We haven’t been as good as we were at the beginning of the season and, hopefully, we can start picking up points and moving towards the right end of the league, and we will go from there.”

More than 800 away tickets have already been sold ahead of United’s trip to the Globe Arena this weekend, which will see the Cumbrians come up against former Carlisle men Cole Stockton and John O’Sullivan, with Morecambe now managed by Derek Adams.

“It will be billed like that [as a six-pointer], but we just have to play the opposition,” Thomas insists.

“We know, if we play to the best of our ability, we’ll be able to come away with three points. We just have to look to the future now and, hopefully, start getting a bit of a run together.”