Steven Pressley says Carlisle United must continue striving for a “complete performance” after wasteful finishing denied them victory against Salford.

The Blues missed a string of golden second-half chances and had to settle for a 2-2 draw.

United could even have suffered a deflating defeat had Adam Collin not pulled off a fine late save.

Pressley said he was very pleased with Carlisle’s display in general but said they fell short in both boxes.

He said: “We can see what we’re trying to get to.

“We’re showing signs, we just need to put – like we did at Barnsley [in the Carabao Cup] – the complete performance together.

“Against Salford it was 75-80 minutes of a really good performance. There has to be a complete performance and we’ll keep striving and looking for that.”

Olufela Olomola headed United in front before Salford scored twice in five minutes to take the lead.

Stefan Scougall levelled before the break and, in the second half, Hallam Hope, Scougall and Elias Sorensen all missed sitters.

It left United 21st in the fledgling League Two table and Pressley said: “We started the game really well, really positively, created a number of a really good opportunities and found ourselves 1-0 up.

“Then we had a 10-minute period that cost us dearly and it’s been a little bit the story of us in recent weeks.

“We are so close to being a really good team, but we have to eradicate these moments, and also convert the chances we created.

“But nobody could come away from the game not saying, ‘What a great performance from Carlisle’. That’s real football, the type of football we want to play – fast, intense football, attacking football, and I think we certainly got that.”

Pressley praised Olomola’s contribution on his recall and said the striker was subbed in the second half because he “fatigued”.

He was also impressed with midfielder Scougall’s contribution. “I think sometimes a player’s work can go unnoticed a little bit. The distances that player is covering for this team is quite amazing. Not only does he initiate a lot in possession, he initiates a lot out of possession. He’s a manager’s dream.”

Pressley admitted the three second-half chances should all have been taken, and that Hope, who made his first start of the season, had apologised for missing his when he was substituted.

United’s boss denied, though, that the forward’s miss could be put down to the effects of ongoing transfer speculation.

Carlisle turned down a bid from an unnamed club for Hope last week. Pressley said: “He came off the pitch and apologised. There’s no need to apologise. I made a million mistakes when I was a player. It’s normal. It’s about going back there and scoring the next one. That’s all.

“Hallam’s very passionate about this team. There’s no way he didn’t work hard today, I thought he gave a good account of himself and his work deserved a goal.

“I thought he acquitted himself well, in the first half he looked a danger and made the runs we wanted him to make. He tired in the second half and maybe fatigue is the reason he missed. I want to give him the benefit of the doubt!

“It was good to see him back. He’s a crucial player for us.

“I’ve spoken to Hallam and he knows I want to keep him here. He knows he’s got a manager that likes him a lot, there’s no issues. If I’m being perfectly honest I think it’s been hard for him - his head has been turned a little bit. But if he doesn’t go, I’ve got no concerns about his focus being here.”

Pressley also admitted he expects better from his senior defenders after United shipped two in the first half for the third successive game.

But he backed centre-halves Byron Webster and Nathaniel Knight-Percival to help the Blues tighten up.

“These two players are terrific characters, amazing about the place, and they know the standards they expect of themselves,” Carlisle’s manager said.

“It’s early-season and I have got great faith in them. Yes, they know they have to do better in these moments, but they’ve got a manager that fully believes in them.

“We work on it all the time. It will turn. The defenders have my confidence. I’ve been there before, I know what it’s like. You sometimes go through phases where everything you seem to touch goes wrong. That’s football, but we’ll get through that.”

Pressley, though, felt Webster was fouled by Mani Dieseruvwe before the Salford man headed their equaliser.

United’s manager, meanwhile, played down Jack Iredale’s second-half substitution as the left-back was replaced by Jon Mellish.

“I think he’s fine – I think it was just fatigue,” Pressley said. “The conditions were scorching, and we asked a lot of our full-backs.

“Jon Mellish came on, and as a defender when you come on in a game like this it’s not easy. It’s the worst position, apart from a goalkeeper, to come on in a game. I thought he handled it brilliantly. The kid did amazing.”

Pressley left Harry McKirdy on the bench as he recalled Olomola and Hope. He said: “I think, on reflection, when you look at the performance it was the right decision. That’s not taking anything away from Harry. But the team performed very well.

“He’ll have a huge part to play in the season, all six of our strikers will, and each game will present a different type of challenge, I’ll pick a team I think can deliver the challenge we’re faced with.”

On Newcastle loanee Sorensen’s sub display, Carlisle’s boss added: “It would have been great for him to get that goal, it would have been a fantastic thing for him after waiting out the last game or so.

“We just have to keep going. I think there’s a lot of positives. I shouldn’t be sitting here in any way disappointed in the performance. I’m just disappointed we didn’t win.”