“As we expected they’re a very competitive team with good energy levels,” he said. “They have good strikers and players who I think could play at a level higher.
“We had some very good plusses in our team and you need that because this is a difficult place to come to. We had a few problems early on but we managed to negate them and we started to get a foothold.
“I think the lads are all pleased that they’ve got the first game out of the way. The opening game is excellent because you see that nervous energy, and you need it out of the way so you can get back into the rhythm and get used to the cut and thrust.
“We’ve taken a lot of the pre-season work into today, even though it wasn’t as free flowing as it needed to be.”
“The pleasing thing for me was the reaction to their goal,” he continued. “It was probably their first attempt as a strike at the target and it was disappointing to concede the free kick in the way we did. Having said that, it was an incredible free kick.
“Like I say, we didn’t panic, we kept our shape and we tried to play the way we wanted to. Our timing was slightly off and we could have pressed a little bit higher on certain occasions.
“However, the players were looking to take on board the instructions they’d been given and they have had a good start. We can tell the players are very responsive and they take information on board quickly. That’s a good sign.”
“I keep telling them they’re going to make mistakes and all I want is for us to make sure the man on the ball has got options,” he explained. “Then, when we’re in possession of the ball, it’s whether or not we can we pick those right options.
“They know they’ve got freedom and licence to go and express themselves because that’s a big part of my coaching. I want players to do that every time they go out on the field of play. I don’t want them to walk out there thinking they can’t do this or that.
“It’s all about positive mental attitude, what they’re going to do, where they need to be for the team and what their role is about. If they have understanding of all of that they’ll be enjoying their football.
“Defensively I thought our shape was good. You could see they tried to target David Atkinson in the first half and he did exceptionally well to work it out and to compete with them. They stayed together well as a back three and the ball retention and positioning was good as a midfield five. I don’t think we allowed them to get any sort of rhythm in their game and we made them play long and become predictable.”
“We had two sides on show this afternoon who both have match winners in their dressing room,” he said. “Both teams will be happier with the squads they’ve now assembled. Either of these teams could go on an unbeaten run for a number of weeks, and we’ll be looking for that little bit of consistency. When you get that belief that you’re not going to concede goals then you can build a little bit of momentum.”
On trimming the squad down to a final 18, he said: “I’ve said all week the hardest thing I’ve had to do is get the squad down to that. It’s been very difficult.
“Antony Sweeney and Steven Rigg missed out on this one and they’ve been really unlucky. Antony can play a number of positions and Steven is chomping at the bit. These lads will play their part because they’re good players.
“Having these selection problems tells me that Lee Dykes is doing his job. He’s finding players who are making my job hard because any number of them could play.”
United PlayerHD subscribers can see an interview with Keith Curle now. Click HERE to go to the PlayerHD platform. Follow the same link for more information on United PlayerHD, and to subscribe.