FOREST GREEN boss Mark Cooper shouldered the blame for his side’s third straight league defeat.

Nathan Thomas bagged a hat-trick as Carlisle United derailed Rovers’ promotion ambitions with an emphatic 4-1 victory.

Cooper said: “We’ve gone from being a real clean sheet machine to being a charity shop and not scoring enough at the end, but it’s important now we stick together and reboot and start again.

“It’s not a time for me to be ranting and raving. Yes, I am the coach, but I need a little bit back from them to help me solve the problems, but we will dust ourselves down and get ready to play Grimsby on Saturday.

Rovers remain three points off the play-off despite three wins from their 14 games, but Cooper expects to be backed by chairman Dale Vince despite a section of fans calling for his head.

Cooper  said: “You’re asking the wrong man that, but I would think so, yes. The fans pay their money and they are entitled to shout what they want.

“When you lose at home 4-1 you deserve to take a bit of stick and you’ve got to take it on the chin and have broad shoulders, but we dust ourselves down and stick together.”

Meanwhile, Carlisle head coach Chris Beech was delighted for hat-trick hero Thomas, he said:  “I’ve never seen a goal as good as his second one in my whole career, although he did score one like it in training yesterday. It was world class.

“Every single goal was excellent though. We have to continue the hard work and continue to get better.

“I ask them for energy, but intelligent energy. It’s no good just running around, you’ve got to use your brain and they all did. Their attitude was great.”

It was the Cumbrian’s first back-to-back win for 367 days and Beech is still looking to strengthen his squad. He said: “I’m really, really pleased for everyone attached to the football club.

“I still want to recruit more players, but it takes hard work. I was talking to one player as I got onto the bus to get to this game and I’m having breakfast with another player in the morning.”

Earlier, the Cumbrians had the Gloucestershire side on the ropes with two goals in three first-half minutes.

Territorially, Rovers dominated the opening 20 minutes, but Carlisle turned the screw when Mike Jones flashed a ball across the box for Thomas to toe-in on 23 minutes. Three minutes later Thomas helped himself to a second, this time letting fly with a sumptuous howitzer that scorched beyond Conrad Logan from 30 yards.

And Thomas bagged his hat-trick just 11 seconds after the restart – scoring from the penalty spot after former Reading defender Matt Mills brought down Jack Bridge.

Rovers were in disarray - Lewis Alessandra hitting the post and moments later it was four on 49 minutes – Josh Kayode stabbing in from close range.

Carl Winchester pulled a goal back for Rovers on 58 minutes, scoring from the penalty spot after Josh March was upended by Aaron Hayden.

Deep into stoppage-time sub Matty Stevens fluffed his lines for Rovers with just Adam Collin to beat to compound a wretched night for Forest Green.