Manager Keith Curle with Mansfield Town match reaction
Manager Keith Curle gave us his reaction to the hard fought victory over Mansfield Town, speaking first about an extremely short post match team talk.
“I’ve just told the players they competed well in the first half and they didn’t deserve to come in at a goal down,” he said. “Conceding a goal a minute or so before half time could knock the spirit out of some teams.
“The pleasing thing was it didn’t change their focus at all. We knew what our roles were and we knew what our jobs were, and we believed we were going to get something out of the game.
“You can’t buy that and it’s good to walk into a changing room and know it’s there. There was no need to panic and no need for drastic changes. We just needed to carry on with the game plan, technically and tactically, also knowing we had game changers on the bench if we needed them.”
“I honestly didn’t think ‘here we go again’ when they got their goal,” he insisted. “I felt if we carried on playing the way we were playing we would get something out of it through the course of 90 minutes.
“The most important ten minutes of the day from my point of view was half time. I spent three or four minutes by myself and I also used that time to gather information from other members of staff, to get their views. I then went in the dressing room and there were no sad faces. There was a belief we would get something out of the game. All we had to do was build on that. Decisions will go against you throughout the season and it comes down to how you respond.
“As I said, we competed excellently and we had to stand up to the physicality, and stay in the game, knowing we could cause them problems. The big decisions went against us but I was able to have a conversation with the officials, as we were leaving the pitch, to ask if they could tell me, in their opinion, how the first goal came about.
“Every man and his dog thought it came from an offside position. The fourth official told me what they’d discussed and what they believed to be accurate. You’ve got to go with that until you see it for yourself.
“I’ve just watched the penalty on video and I don’t understand how it wasn’t given, and then how it was given as a corner – it’s either or. I’m not going to criticise referees because we’re due a few decisions to go our way. I know they make honest decisions and that’s what we abide by.”
“I think we’ve shown people that we’re building something with this performance,” he commented. “The really pleasing thing from the day was the crowd. I know we had supporters here as early as half seven this morning to clear the pitch.
“One of the directors came in to buy them all bacon sandwiches, and we had staff members out there with them as well. That’s the type of unity you need because it forms success. It’s not something you can create.
“It comes from every individual within the club playing their role and their part. People sometimes don’t see what goes on behind the scenes at a football club but I can tell you that everyone here is focused on success.”
On getting another goal from a set piece, he said: “We’re spending more and more time on set pieces. Players need to know what they’re doing because we’ve got plans with them. That’s not just with set pieces, it’s also for the short, medium and long term. It’s gradually falling into place and we’re seeing the benefits.
“I thought Charlie [Wyke] did really well and I’m delighted he got his goal. He tired slightly in the last fifteen or so minutes of the game but he will form a good partnership with Riggy. As a strike force, with the five strikers we have at the club – Derek Asamoah, Mark Beck, Billy Paynter, Charlie Wyke and Steven Rigg – we have goals in the squad. If we can give them the ammunition we can become a force to be reckoned with, and that will be with a number of different options and formations we can use.”
“We’re starting to get a platform,” he agreed. “That’s three games now where I’ve been able to field the same back five. That does help. We all want to be playing league football next season and that’s where our focus will stay.
“We’ve won a game of football today, but we’re expected to win games of football. Everything we do is geared for success. Next week is when we will do a bit of video analysis and we will highlight the good and bad things from the game. I know I’m surrounded by the character which is building in that dressing room, and it’s really pleasing, because they are already looking forward to the work we need to do before we go to Tranmere.”
“This was obviously a huge result because there are a lot of teams now who are getting dragged into it,” he commented. “I’ve known where we were from the day I walked into the football club. It’s not a nice place to be down at the bottom, but we’ve been dealing with it on a daily basis. Some clubs are just coming into it now and they won’t be able to handle it.
“We’ve got a crowd that sticks with us and that’s excellent. The players are giving us everything they’ve got and that’s all any of us can ask for. We’ve created a professional environment where people are buying into what we’re trying to do and that’s given me a belief we will get something from every game we play.”
On the goal that won the game, he said: “We know if we get Kyle in the right areas of the pitch we can cause problems. There’ll be more goals to come from him between now and the end of the season. We’ll score goals as a squad and as a team because we’re working hard to be a threat.
“Derek Asamoah has got something, I think we all know that. He has a hunger to assist, score goals and create goals. It’s the same with him whether he starts or comes off the bench. I’ll be having a conversation with him about his contract situation this weekend because I think he has a job to do for us.”
And on the news that talks were due to reach a successful conclusion with Blyth Spartans defender Nathan Buddle, he said: “He is a player we’ve been tracking for a month to five weeks now. We’ve waited until we’ve had a detailed dossier on him so we know his strengths and weaknesses.
“He’s one for the future but, in my own mind, I think he could play in the team before the end of the season. He’s got good understanding of the game and good attributes. He’s played for us in our friendly fixtures against Newcastle, Burnley and Blackburn and he acquitted himself very well.
“He’s a good talker and a good organiser but he does need to work on his fitness. With him it shows we aren’t just looking at the here and now, we’re looking at the future. We’re hoping it’s a deal we can get done by Monday because he’s been at Blyth on a non-contract basis and the financial package with us has been agreed.
“That suited them and him because he has a desire to play league football. The deal will initially be for six months with an option of extending that for another year - but with the option being in our favour. He’s nowhere near the finished article but if he produces the performance levels we think he’s capable of we will be taking up that option.”
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