Chris Beech says his decision to substitute Joe Riley in the first half against Scunthorpe was no slight on the Carlisle United midfielder.

Riley was sacrificed in the 40th minute as Beech sent on Brennan Dickenson in a tactical change.

The decision came when United were 1-0 down – the Blues eventually fighting back from two adrift to force a 2-2 draw.

Dickenson headed the late equaliser with Beech praising the attacker for his impact.

And on his move to hook Riley, the head coach said: “Joe’s been excellent this season, he’s a stand-out performer, and it was very difficult to make that decision.

“It definitely doesn’t represent Joe’s contribution to us. We’re better for his contribution.

“I have no doubt he’ll be right at it if he’s available next Saturday.

“That was just tactics, trying to get some extra width, some power and pace, and, looking at how we started the game, a bit of aerial outlet - and Brennan gave us that.”

Dickenson and fellow scorer Jordan Gibson carried the fight to Scunthorpe in the second half as United eventually scraped a point.

It came after a dire first half when Carlisle’s starting attack, including Zach Clough and Tristan Abrahams, made little impact.

On the threat posed by full debutant Gibson and Dickenson, Beech said: “I was very tempted to start like that, and as a manager you have all these conundrums and questions.

“We decided to stick with our solid midfield three [Riley, Callum Guy and Jon Mellish] that have been brilliant for us for so long, and of course we wanted more from a front three, although it was offset, with Jordan wide, and Zach and Tristan playing slightly lopsided.

“Scunthorpe did great, changed the shape and had extra players inside in midfield, every credit to them.

“We struggled with that, just because we conceded, and you saw a little bit of panic and not too much composure in players that normally have it.

“That’s why I have to try and show it [composure], so you can have that relief, which we had right at the end of the game.

“I was really pleased with the second half but we’ve got to get away from starting games like that.”