Keith Curle with reaction to the Portsmouth draw
Manager Keith Curle gave us his reaction to the home draw with Portsmouth on Good Friday afternoon.
“The goal, the point, the result are all hugely important because every point we get between now and the end of the season is massive,” he said. “I thought we started well and we got the reward for that.
“We then finished well, and we got the reward for that. There was then a lot in the middle we need to learn from and work on. We’ve talked before about game management, but sometimes it’s about game understanding.”
“It was an excellent start from us and if we’d got the second it could have been a different Portsmouth we saw,” he added. “They got their first goal and their tails were up. They’ve got some good players who can handle a football well, but without being a constant threat.
“They got their goals and that allowed them to play what was a typical away performance. I think it’s the first time since I’ve been here ... I wouldn’t say I lost my rag, but I had to spell it out to people about what they weren’t doing. We’d prepared fully but it then felt like I’d been slapped in the face with the way players didn’t do their jobs. I had to address that.
“Even though I changed my approach with that I was still mindful of the information I was giving, even though it was delivered in a louder and more aggressive manner. I was more ‘in your face’ because the annoying thing was had seen the things we did well for 25 minutes.
“Our shape was good and all we needed was for people to continue doing their jobs. We then had a lapse of concentration and a lack of desire, and that caused the first goal. The same thing, people not doing their jobs, caused the second goal. That shows me we have elements we still need to work on and improve.”
“The players saw a different side to me today,” he reiterated. “I can lose it with the best of them and when I’ve got a message to get across I’ll do it. There are ways and means of doing it and sometimes you look round and you ask if it’s going to sink in. I looked round the dressing room today and I knew they needed to know what I was thinking, because I’m not having that. If I give someone a job to do, they have to do it.
“There were a few players in that dressing room who got a rollocking. They were told exactly what I thought of them and it was a test for them to go out and produce for us in the second half. I told them if they couldn’t handle their mistakes being pointed out then they weren’t going to have a very long career. The pleasing thing is the players accepted and dealt with it, and they did their jobs to get the point.”
“The goal was the perfect start for us,” he agreed. “Good aggression from Charlie Wyke upset the full backs and Brad Potts did well to keep the ball alive. It was then a great finish from Kyle Dempsey, and it came from the things we said before the game would probably bring us success.
“First and foremost we needed to stop them from playing at their tempo in midfield and nullify the threat they had in wide areas. We did that, as I say, for 25 minutes. Then between our midfield three, four or five we stopped doing it and that’s when they turned it on us and got their rewards.”
“I think we showed that we do have character because we kept going,” he commented. “That shows desire and a willingness to do what it takes. The lads needed that because they earned it. We had to climb and knock down trees and mountains to get that point. We had to be brave and keep going. That’s the positive to come out of the day.
“I think the lads will feel like they got rewards with the way the game ended. Kyle got his reward with the goal because he’s doing his job well. I think there was a bit of a misunderstanding that he had been brought off as a tactical substitution. That wasn’t the case. He has a slight strain but he wanted to give it a go in the second half to see if he could get through it.
“My head was telling me to get him off because we have the game on Monday. He told me he could give me another 15 minutes, but I was then told he needed to come off when he felt it again. When Kyle tells you he needs to come off – he needs to come off.”
“The point is important to us because we know where we are,” he said. “You can feel the nerves, pressure and tension as much as you like, but you’ve got to deal with it. There’s more than enough in that dressing room to deal with it and there are occasions when we’re not getting the run of the ball, but we’re earning the right to get points and goals. That’s why we will continue to scrap for absolutely everything.
“You can tell there’s a spring in the step for the players because of that equaliser. There’s a belief that we will get what we deserve if we just keep going. I think the fans are part of that because it was late in the game and were a goal down, but the turnstiles weren’t being emptied. People weren’t going home.
“They kept with us and when we turned round at the end, to see the celebrations, you could tell they all wanted that goal. That’s fantastic to see. There will be a different mindset for everyone when they wake up tomorrow morning because of that one moment.
“The players will think about what could have been, but wasn’t, when they come in for training tomorrow morning. We’re in a results industry and they dug a result out. That gives them a lift and something to build on.
“They’ll be reminded that sometimes you have to earn the right to make it your day. That means running an extra 15 yards to close down or to keep the play in front of you. If that’s what’s needed, then do it, because the rewards will come if you do. If you don’t, the other team will punish you.”
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