Carlisle United boss Chris Beech insisted their recent defensive improvement will count for nothing unless they are on the ball against Colchester.

The Blues have yet to concede in the league at Brunton Park this season after keeping clean sheets against Southend and Barrow.

Including the final game of last season before the Covid-19 shutdown – against Newport – it is three straight league shut-outs at their home ground.

Another clean sheet would make it four in a row at home for the first time in six years – the last such sequence coming under Graham Kavanagh in March-April 2014.

Carlisle have conceded just once in more than six hours of league football – Scunthorpe’s winner at Glanford Park – but Beech said standards must remain high.

“You’re not guaranteed anything and if we don’t prepare correctly and show winning intent then everything you’ve done in the past means absolutely nothing,” the head coach said.

“We’ve got to make sure we’re right on point because in this league you get punished if you’re not quite right.”

The last side to score at Brunton Park in League Two was in fact Colchester, who won 3-0 at Carlisle on March 7.

United are currently eighth in the table after five games of the new campaign but Beech said it was “far too early” to discuss promotion or play-offs.

He added: “Like I’ve said before about football clubs and teams, the ones that rise to the top are generally the ones that have the most facility and finance.

“Yes we did beat a strong, financially-supported structure in Port Vale, but that could have gone the other way.

“We rode the first 10 minutes, then looked to dominate in the end. There’s no guarantee.

“We’ve definitely got one point, we’ve got a clean sheet [at kick-off], we have to look after it and turn it into three, that’s how we look at things.”

United are two points ahead of 11th-placed Colchester, who beat the Cumbrians 3-0 twice last season.

The Essex side are unbeaten but have drawn four of their five games so far under new boss Steve Ball, who replaced John McGreal after the Us lost in last season’s play-off semi-finals to Exeter.

The Cumbrians are likely to have frontman Joshua Kayode back in the squad after his return from international duty, with Marcus Dewhurst also available.

Beech said: “It’s up to the lads and how hard they fight. Colchester have had some pretty comfortable victories against Carlisle and it’s going to be tough because they’ve got a good mix of young players and experience.

“We have to play to the best level we possibly can and see what happens.

“The new manager helped John, so the style will be very similar.

“I wouldn’t say they’re in transition because I think their chairman [Robbie Cowling] had a master plan, and he followed that through as soon as the pandemic came.

“He was the first [chairman] in the country really to deal with the pandemic. Fair play to his business sense and things like that.

“He had to make real strong decisions if my memory serves me right. He did it within the playoff games as well. You’re talking about established League One and Two players in terms of the decisions he had to make, but he was confident within those decisions, they had a change of management, probably backed up by the academy and investment they’ve put in that.

“He’ll want that to bear fruit this season, I would imagine, with their younger players. We saw [Kwame] Poku making a significant difference here last season, he was fortunate with a couple of deflections but he took on his shots and scored a couple of goals.

“As an owner he [Cowling] has tried to adjust but I have so much respect for that because it was the first chairman to instigate change because it needed doing, and because of where it was.

“I don’t know John [McGreal] well enough personally to speak, so I’m not too sure of the circumstances, but from the outside looking in it did seem harsh from what he’d achieved.

“The current manager was a big part of that success so they have continuity and I have no doubt they’ll be looking to be successful this season.”

Beech highlighted left-back Cohen Bramall as a key man for United’s opponents this afternoon.

The former Arsenal man impressed in both games against Carlisle, scoring a free-kick in Colchester’s 3-0 home win in December.

Carlisle’s boss added: “I expect a really quick, possession based, energetic performance out of their attacking players, and they have a stand-out left-back – I’m amazed he’s still at the club.

“He’s an excellent set-play deliverer and is constantly up and down the pitch.

“Then they’ve got this young group that they have confidence in. I expect a real tough game against Colchester United.”