MANAGER: We're giving away soft goals

Keith Curle with reaction to the Newport County game

Manager Keith Curle gave us his reaction to the Newport game at his post match press conference.

“We are very much disappointed after that because they did the ugly side of the game better than we did,” he said. “They looked like they had a belief in what they were doing and they did the ugly things with a little bit of conviction. 

“I’ve spoken to the players at full time and I think they’ve got to realise they’re in a relegation fight. That means they have to be prepared to do the horrible side of the game first and foremost. We didn’t do that today.”

“Newport aren’t in a relegation battle but they played like it,” he told us. “They had commitment and they kept putting balls in the right areas with physical strength and belief. It was them who had the understanding of the desire you need to get to the ball first, when it’s bouncing around, and we can’t be happy about that.

“Every time a ball came into our box it looked like we didn’t have the belief that we were going to get the first header on it.”

“I think sometimes you get people thinking they’ve gone from four points adrift to a cushion of being a number of points away from the drop zone,” he commented. “They think it’s job done and that we can now start to look forward. We absolutely can’t because, and let’s make no bones about it, we’re in a relegation battle. We’ve got to get to that mindset quickly so we can deal with it.”

“Another disappointing thing is that we aren’t conceding great goals,” he said. “We’re giving the opposition soft goals. I think they had two chances in the first half and one of them led to them scoring. 

“They got a great ball into the box. Then there was the desire to get the header on the cross and it ends up in the back of the net. It was good play from their centre forward but it gave them a foothold in the game and it made it that much more difficult for us to do what we wanted to do.”

“We looked for a good start to the second half and within a couple of minutes a player is two yards out and he’s put the ball in the back of the net from an innocuous corner,” he said. “I obviously haven’t had the chance to see it again yet, but it looked cheap. The only thing to say about the third goal is that we let them have it far too easily. 

“They approached the game in the way we wanted to. They nullified us, put the ball behind us and turned us round repeatedly. You need to be able to deal with it by going toe to toe with teams who want that type of confrontation. 

“I spoke to the players at half time and I told them it was causing us problems. However, it was something we could also do to them. We asked them to put the ball in the right areas and get after it. 

“We knew we couldn’t out-physical them so we wanted to go narrow in midfield and make them have to work harder that way. When you score two goals at home you would think it would be enough to get something out of a game.”

On the changes made to the team, he said: “We made the changes because we wanted to get a little bit of experience in there. We looked ragged defensively last week, when we conceded four goals away from home, and we had an opportunity to work on a partnership that had that bit of aggression and knowledge you think should be able to deal with the threats which were posed.

“There is still enough in that changing room to get us where we need to be this season, which is above the relegation line. The important thing now is that we all stick together – the players, the coaching staff and the supporters. We know where we are because we came into a club that was going backwards. We’re treading water at the moment so we need to regroup and refocus on the fact we’re in a relegation fight. 

“You also change teams based on performances. That wasn’t acceptable from some of the players last week and I felt we needed to address that. All four goals were gifted at Dagenham and, again, we’ve given two weak goals away this time.

“Unfortunately things can look good in training but they don’t materialise out on the pitch. You’re going to get that with young and experienced players when you’re at the wrong end of the table. It’s a case of searching until we come across the right blend.

“The last thing that comes together with a young squad is consistency. Players are learning on a daily basis on the training ground and they’re learning in match situations as well. It’s a case that you have to understand that you need to know what not to do and not just what makes you look like a good player.” 

“I would say to the fans that it’s a work in progress, so please stay with us. We all hoped we’d end up with a fairytale of getting into the play offs and getting promoted in the final via penalties. That would be the ideal scenario. 

“The reality is that we’re in a relegation fight. I’ve never waivered from that or thought it was otherwise. The players we have are the same as when I walked in here. There’s only been a few changes and the majority of the squad were in that relegation fight when I took over. That’s why it’s going to take time to change the mentality and put it right.” 

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