Paul Simpson says Carlisle United’s display in defeat to Lincoln City underlines why they are on the brink of relegation – and why big changes are needed.

The Blues’ 3-1 home loss to the in-form Imps took them closer to having their return to League Two confirmed.

And manager Simpson admitted the shortcomings in various areas across the pitch summed up why they are enduring such a poor third-tier season.

Easter Monday proved an anti-climax after Carlisle's impressive Good Friday win at Peterborough United and Simpson said: “It’s what I’ve said for the whole of this season – we’ve been short at both ends, simple as that.

“You don’t have a goals-against column and a goals-for column like we’ve got if you’re doing things properly.

“There’s lots of areas where we’re falling short. Today we’ve fallen short in both boxes and we’ve fallen short in midfield, where we’re giving balls away cheaply, we’re leaving balls for each other instead of communicating and taking the situation by the scruff of the neck.

“There’s lots of areas – and it shows why we are where we are.”

Carlisle are 13 points from safety with five games to go, only a home defeat for Burton Albion to Barnsley allowing Simpson’s side to avoid having relegation confirmed on Easter Monday.

The Cumbrians rarely looked like avoiding defeat to Michael Skubala’s play-off chasing Lincoln, who dominated with goals from Ben House and Joe Taylor, Ted Bishop then clinching it after Sam Lavelle pulled one back for United.

News and Star: Harrison Neal battles in vain for United against LincolnHarrison Neal battles in vain for United against Lincoln (Image: Barbara Abbott)

Simpson was particularly frustrated with the way Carlisle started the game. “The way we were first half there was no chance of getting back to back wins,” he said.

“The first goal was a really poor one to give away. Then you hope you get a good start to the second half, then you can get yourself back in it.

“I thought we did, we had those opportunities we didn’t take. Then I think the second goal then sums us up a little bit.

“People will criticise us for giving goals away – criticise the staff – but that’s not an organisational thing. That’s communication, that’s just doing things properly.

“That shouldn’t be happening. That’s taken the game away from us completely when that’s happened.”

Simpson also said the attitude of Lincoln’s players showed up some of his own team’s shortcomings.

“I think they showed the desire,” he added. “They [Lincoln] are coming off the pitch having an argument with each other because they’re saying they’re not doing it properly – they wanted to fight each other, and they had a real desire about them.

“We have to have that desire. We didn’t have the desire to do the real basics of football which is passing the ball properly, running, talking, the communication side of it.

“We didn’t do it well enough and what you do that you end up losing games.”

Lincoln are unbeaten in 15 games and in the play-off places while United remain adrift at the bottom.

“There’s lots of things that need to change, that need improving,” added Simpson. “There’s loads of things being talked about off the field but there are lots of things that need to be improved on the field as well.”

United were without the injured Dylan McGeouch and Taylor Charters and the team were unable to emulate Friday’s efforts.

“You hope the players who are going to come in are going to be able to do that,” said Simpson.

“Unfortunately as a whole group we weren’t able to do it. It wasn’t about one or two players, it was the whole group.

“Players who had a really good game on Friday didn’t have such a good game today. Maybe it was just too much for them.

“I’ve tried over the season to make changes to freshen it up, it hasn’t worked today. I thought, ‘if everybody’s right we’ll go again with it’.

“We found out on Friday that Taylor wasn’t going to be right so there was always going to have to be a change there, and I tried to put players in there who I thought were going to affect it. As a group we haven’t been able to.”