Paul Simpson said Carlisle United’s paltry goals return from the 2021/22 season further underlines the need for big changes.

The Blues’ blank in the 2-0 defeat at Bradford meant they mustered only 39 from their 46 league games – equalling an unwanted club record.

Manager Simpson, whose side finished 20th, said there can be no hiding for the need for a major revamp at Brunton Park.

“Make no mistake about it – there has to be changes, simple as that,” he said.

“You cannot go through a season and only score 39 goals out of 46 games. It’s not good enough, simple as that.

“I’m part of that, I have to take responsibility for that as well; we also have to take the responsibility and have the desire to try and get a better group next season.”

News and Star: A chance goes begging for United at BradfordA chance goes begging for United at Bradford

United ended the season on a losing note in front of 1,668 travelling supporters at Valley Parade.

Bradford from Lee Angol and Jamie Walker ensured the Cumbrians would finish the campaign fifth bottom.

While Simpson was furious with referee James Bell for denying the Blues a second-half penalty, he conceded that United’s goal-shy showing in Yorkshire had underlined some of what is missing.

“We haven’t scored more than two goals in a [league] game this season – that tells a story,” he said. “It’s not right.

“I can’t fault the players in terms of their attitude. They absolutely worked their socks off.

“We made a little change in midfield with Brennan Dickenson trying to look after their number ten, Walker, we pushed Gibbo [Jordan Gibson], and Lewi Alessandra had to play a bit out of position as an eight, and we looked a lot better.

News and Star: Mark Howard tries to punch clear a crossMark Howard tries to punch clear a cross

“We had some decent control in the game – it’s that final third we let ourselves down.

“We don’t have the quality in there to find the right pass, to make the right decision, to get the finish on the end of it. Unfortunately you can do everything between the boxes but if you don’t get it right in those two boxes you’ve got a serious problem.”

Simpson was scathing about referee Bell’s performance, with United denied a spot-kick after Kristian Dennis went down in the Bradford box, moments before the hosts went upfield and wrapped up the game through Walker’s goal.

United’s boss said: “I think there’s only one person who missed that penalty.

“I’ve seen it back on the video – he [the referee] is in a good place, he’s looking, and he’s got no excuse.

“He was in a decent position, so I’ll give him credit for that, but that’s all he’s getting credit for because I felt he was really poor.

“I’m not sure he was brave enough to give a penalty in front of this crowd, which is really disappointing.

News and Star: Simpson criticised ref James Bell's performanceSimpson criticised ref James Bell's performance

“When you have a referee at this level you have to be brave enough to make the right decisions and to give some pathetic excuse about a change in the rules isn’t acceptable.

“Kristian is through, [Luke] Hendrie is behind him and clipped his heels, it’s a penalty. Only one person didn’t think it was.

“Saying that, we should still have security behind the ball and we shouldn’t allow them to go on and score within seconds of that.”

Simpson also played down the half-time skirmish involving players as well as home manager Mark Hughes and United No2 Gavin Skelton.

The latter pair clashed as the teams headed for the tunnel.

News and Star: Mark Hughes, left, clashed with Gavin Skelton at half-timeMark Hughes, left, clashed with Gavin Skelton at half-time

“We were walking off the pitch and one of their players grabbed Jon Mellish on the back of the neck – Gav tried to step in and I think Mark caught him on his blindside,” Simpson said.

“To be fair to Mark he apologised to him at the end. It was something of nothing, really.

“But again, at least the players all stuck together and got involved and tried to separate it.

“No doubt the referee will report us for that because he needed to make a decision against us, as he did for most of the game…”

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