Danny Grainger said he could not fault his Workington Reds players for their battling efforts against Carlisle United.

The former Blues captain – who said it was “surreal” to be in opposition to his old club – saw his side go down 3-0 at Borough Park.

But manager Grainger was encouraged by various aspects of his NPL West team’s performance against Paul Simpson’s League Two side.

“For the first 55 minutes it was really good, really competitive,” he said of his team’s display.

READ MORE: Carlisle United's win at Workington Reds - the action in pictures

“We got punished for our mistakes, which you do at that level, but overall you can’t fault the effort from the lads.

“It was a different challenge in the second half, when we had to drop off behind the ball and give up a little bit of possession, but the bravery of the boys showed, even in possession, taking it in really tight areas.

“Overall I can’t fault what I’ve seen.”

Grainger said United posed the sort of test he expected from Simpson’s Football League players.

News and Star: A Reds attempt goes over the United barA Reds attempt goes over the United bar

“I watched them last week at Penrith and at Kendal when they had a big win,” he said.

“You’re just hoping you’re not on the end of one of them…

“Overall, I knew what Carlisle were going to bring, and I read Paul’s interview before the game when he said about getting more minutes into some players.

“I knew it was going to be a test. They changed the XI on 60 minutes – just what the boys want to see! But I thought the boys dug in really well and gave a really rugged performance out of possession.”

Grainger said there were good individual showings from his team, with new signing Bobby Carroll – a former Everton academy player – giving a tigerish display in midfield.

“Bobby’s come out with the pedigree of academy football, and sometimes it can be that side of it that they don’t have,” he said.

“But Bobby’s a really aggressive ball-winning player who can spray a pass as well.

“I’m really happy with some stand-out performances. The captain led by example – Conor Tinnion – knew when to press and drop off, which is going to be vital to us.”

Workington, having hosted Blackburn’s Under-23s, Dumbarton and Carlisle in the space of eight days, are next in pre-season action at Carlisle City on Tuesday night.

Grainger, back for a second spell in charge at Borough Park, added: “We’ve had three tough games. Sometimes it’s nice to do it the other way round when you’re finishing with your Carlisle Uniteds, but it can’t happen that way.

“It’s been a tough week, we’ve come through it and touch wood we’ve got no injuries, and it builds us towards games against teams similar level to us – Carlisle City, Penrith, Kendal, Consett – building towards the league start on August 30.

“There is plenty to work on. We’re dropping little messages in which we get to see every game, and we’re aiming to get closer to where we need to be.”