Chris Beech said he saw grounds for encouragement in Carlisle United’s first game of the season – but wants the Blues to be sharper at both ends.

The head coach says the time and manner of Fleetwood’s goals cost his side in the 3-1 EFL Trophy loss.

The League One side’s fightback, after Gime Toure’s opener, meant United’s first competitive game for nearly six months ended in defeat.

Beech said he was pleased with how his side applied themselves but admitted there were clear areas for improvement.

“We’re in sport and we want to win, so we’re disappointed that we didn’t,” he said.

“In terms of energy, commitment and honesty it was good. The time you concede goals is important, and I think if we’d got to half time 1-0 up it would have been a completely different team talk in the Fleetwood dressing room.

“I thought we played better in the early part of the second half, but we then ended up conceding two more goals.

“I would like a bit more quality in terms of our passing and getting crosses in. We didn’t work their goalkeeper enough; our passing in general was pretty good, but I want to see more goals and more shots on target.”

Beech said he was particularly disappointed with the manner of Fleetwood’s second goal – a free diving header from Harvey Saunders who was unmarked at the far post.

“It was very similar to one of the goals Colchester scored in one of our later home games here last season,” the head coach said.

“It’s a simple inswinging corner and their player had a free header at the back post. We have obviously worked on scoring and defending set plays. Fleetwood got their tails up after they went in front. Our goal came from a set piece as well, and it happens at all levels of football, so they are vital.

“The quality of their first goal was very good too. They popped the ball four or five times and made that opening for Camps to come into at the edge of the box.

“What he did do, and what he has started to do…I spent hours with Camps doing it on the training field doing it [at Rochdale]…is to stay relaxed in speed. He controls his finish. A lot of incidents happen to players like that when they whack it and it goes over the stand. He passed it into the corner of the goal.

“The second goal was probably more disappointing from a team’s perspective, it’s a set play and a free header. But they [Fleetwood] are pretty ruthless. They should be, in terms of what they’ve got; even now, Fleetwood’s squad will build, I have no doubt they’ll recruit. Paddy Madden’s suspended, but Ched Evans comes on, Josh Morris is no fool is he, Camps…top, top League One/Championship type players.

“With Paul Coutts and Glenn Whelan in midfield, they know how to ref the game as well as play in it, and they did that.”

Beech gave a host of new signings their first United outings and said it was important to remember the higher level of opposition they were facing.

He said: “We had eight players making their debuts for us tonight and you’ve got to be mindful of the opponent we were playing.

“They were one game away from receiving £9m from the EFL if they’d got promoted to the Championship so we can’t forget that.

“They brought Ched Evans on and they’ve got players like Coutts and Whelan who have played in the Premier League. When you consider that, I think the lads had a real good go at them.”

Beech also admitted it was simply good to be back with a competitive game at Brunton Park after the long Covid-enforced lay-off and the logistical challenges of getting the fixture on at United’s ground.

“It’s amazing, really,” he said.

“Even [last night], the 11 starters can change in the changing rooms, the substitutes change in the players’ bar. You’ve got to see the referee outside to change team sheets, then you’ve got to consider where you’re going to come back with the information on Fleetwood’s team, where do you talk to the players? How can you get them together?

“Everything you don’t really want to think about, and that’s just me, never mind Nigel [Clibbens, chief executive] and the office staff, and everybody around the ground, it’s been a magnificent effort.”