Keith Millen insisted his Carlisle United players should not be frustrated with themselves after last night’s draw with Hartlepool United.

The manager said he had to lift his team after the goalless draw at Brunton Park.

Millen felt there were positives in the game despite the stalemate on home soil.

He said United’s "identity" remains clear despite coming up short in front of goal against Graeme Lee’s visitors.

“The lads were a bit down in [the dressing room],” he said.

“I said to them, ‘Why? I don’t know why you’re down’.

“As a manager standing on the touchline looking, I’m thinking, ‘I know what we are’. And I’ve known it for a while now. There’s a lot of positives from [the game].”

United extended their unbeaten run to five league games and moved eight points clear of the relegation zone.

They also kept a fourth clean sheet in five – but failed to sparkle in front of goal.

Millen added: “I’m quite proud of them, to be honest. For them to go again after Saturday, I can’t ask much more of what they’re doing, I really can’t.

“Yes, we had chances and we got into dangerous positions, and the final ball or the final decision wasn’t quite right, but there’s so much good about us, so I’m actually not frustrated, I’m quite pleased with where they are now as a group of players.

“It’s another clean sheet and they’re doing everything I’m asking of them apart from that final little bit.

“It’s that moment of quality, an individual bit of skill, and we had some good positions that we could be better with.

“We had a couple of free kicks right on the edge of the box, and you’d like to think one of them would be the winning goal. We hit the crossbar, it was so close to going in, and they’re the fine margins in games.

“For all their possession [Hartlepool] had one shot across the goal in the first half and the two opportunities in the second half.

“Apart from that they never looked like opening us up, so there is a lot for us to be pleased about.

“We’re carrying on this run now and we’re in a place where I look at us and I know what we are. We’ve got a real identity to what we’re doing.”

While Brennan Dickenson hit the bar for the Blues, Mark Howard made two vital stops to thwart Pools’ David Ferguson and Reagan Ogle.

Millen added: “That’s concentration from an experienced keeper, and he was there when they sort of got in a couple of times.

“He turned one onto the crossbar, and we managed to scramble it away, but every team is going to have one or two chances.

“At this level, here in League Two, it’s normally the team that takes their chances that wins the game. I can’t remember a team dominating us for a long, long time, where we’ve been under constant pressure.

“We’re comfortable, we’re controlling games, and we’re getting into good wide areas. We knew we could create an overload, the crosses were going into the box, and we seem to be nearly on the end of them.

“That’s the final ingredient that every club is looking for, and every manager will be saying the same thing.”

Millen said United will continue working on sharpening their attacking threat.

“We’ll keep working with them and keep trying to give them solutions,” he said.

“The second half was unbelievable, the weather conditions turned, and all of a sudden we’re kicking into wind and rain.

“There was nothing in the first half then that came, and it doesn’t help when you’re playing against that.

“We struggled to get out at times because of that. But when we did get hold of the ball we still got into some very good areas, and I thought our full backs really kept driving.”

Millen felt Carlisle could easily have been awarded a penalty when Timi Odusina handled Omari Patrick’s shot.

A free-kick was awarded just outside the Monkey Hangers’ box.

“My initial thought was it was in the box, and I think sometimes when officials aren’t quite sure, they tend to go on, ‘Oh, it was on the line…’ which I understand; if you’re not quite sure, it’s a big decision to give the pen.”