Keith Curle on the Oxford game and on recovering from the floods
Manager Keith Curle gave us his reaction to the away draw at Oxford on Saturday.
“We’ve come to the division’s leaders, who are full of confidence, and we’ve given a really good account of ourselves,” he said. “On balance of play the draw was probably a fair result, because they had a couple of skirmishes late on, but you’d expect that when you come here.
“They had to play counter-attacking football for most of the game and that shows the amount of dominance we had. I thought we looked dangerous every time we put the ball into the box, but things didn’t quite run for us for us to turn it into goals.
“We put a marker down very early and we caused them problems with our physical presence. If anything, I don’t think we went direct enough and didn’t put as many balls into their box as I wanted to see in the second half. Every time we did it made life uncomfortable for them.”
“The goal we did score came from earning your luck,” he commented. “We have a few people claiming it, but the thing that matters is that we got it. We didn’t deserve to go into the break a goal behind so it came at a good time for us as well.
“Work had been done in training on making contact with the first ball into the box, and then keeping it alive, because we thought there could be something there for us. I’m not sure who has claimed it because it took a deflection and spun around a bit. Antony Sweeney got one last week so maybe this week we’ll say it was Charlie [Wyke].”
On the positive approach shown from the first whistle, he said: “Our players adhered to the game plan and we have to be happy with that. There was an attitude that we were playing the team at the top of the league but we were bossing it. The second half was even-stevens on chances, but we could easily have been ahead at half time.
“I spoke to the players after the game and I told them we came here last season, and I accused the team of being weak at full time. It’s fantastic now to go into a changing room knowing I’ve got a committed group who are hungry for success. That’s a good feeling.
“There were some very good individual performances which made it a strong team display. Oxford are a good team and we matched them in every area. Credit to Oxford for the way they play, they are very effective going forward, and credit to us for doing the work to largely nullify that.”
Speaking about the absence of right back Tom Miller, he explained: “Tom isn’t far away at all. He felt a niggle, and a twinge, and he reported it to Dolly. We have a bank of games coming up and what we don’t need is for players to be doing us a favour. There’s strength in depth so we’d rather miss Tom for 12 to 14 days than for four or five weeks.
“Alexander McQueen is fine. He was left out of the 18 based on what I felt we needed to get us a result. I see him as a project for us to work on going forward and he’s more than on schedule. He knows there are things he needs to improve and he’s working hard to do that.
“With Dan Hanford, he did really well last weekend. Mark [Gillespie] was back in today but that’s no reflection on Dan at all. We knew he’d step and perform when he was asked to and it’s good to have that high level of competition in such a key area.”
And on keeping the players focused on the job at hand, with scenes of devastation back home in Cumbria, he said: “We’re all well aware of the situation back at home in Carlisle and we’re mindful that we’re a professional football club within our local community. We had a role to play there, but I think it was expected – and it was demanded by me – that we went out in the game and gave a good account of ourselves. We got that and we know that puts smiles on faces, which is a very pleasing thing.
“The things the people from our county are going through are never far from our thoughts, but ultimately we know we have to represent them. We hold our community very close and dear to our hearts and we know what we mean to them. That’s why we’re there in times of disaster – but also to represent them professionally.
“I felt I had to get the players away from it for a few days to make sure the focus was where it should be come Saturday afternoon. Credit to the players because they’ve kept in touch with what is happening at home, but they’ve also got on board with the fact they had work to do.”
“I knew about the half time draw the people of Oxford were holding and the amount they raised [£1,652] is amazing,” he told us. “We can only thank them for that and it shows the standing Carlisle has within the football community.”
“The other thing we have had to think about is that our club staff have been dealing with the hard job of picking Brunton Park up again,” he concluded. “It’s things like the mental devastation when you see people going into their place of work to discover that everything they’ve done has gone.
“It isn’t their homes, but they know they now have a duty to make the best of their place of work. There’s a real comprehension that people’s lives and homes have been decimated, and what’s happened at the football club doesn’t even come close to that, but we have good people doing everything they can to get the business side of things going again. We’ll keep doing what we need to do in our own areas of responsibility and I think we’ll come out of the other side much stronger for it.”