Keith Curle with his reaction to the Portsmouth game
Manager Keith Curle gave us his reaction to the 2-2 home draw with Portsmouth on Saturday afternoon.
“It’s a crime that Portsmouth are at this level because of the size of club they are,” he said. “However, it’s also a crime that we’re in division two because we should be higher than this as well. Both managers are trying to put that right.
“We showed them a lot of respect and rightly so. Man for man I think they’re the best unit we’ve come up against this season. The way they played the game is exactly what we’re trying to bring to this football club.
“They’ll be in the top three at the end of the season because they are really well organised and capable. The crowd have just seen arguably the best team in this division, but the pleasing thing for us all is that we competed with them.”
“Their movement and use of the ball is pleasing on the eye and we’re making strides towards achieving that as well,” he commented. “It was good to see that we were able to compete today.
“We knew we were going to be without possession of the ball for long periods and it was important that we retained our shape and discipline when that was the case. I know some people won’t like that approach but sometimes you have to show a very good team the respect they deserve. You have to understand when to mark a man and when to mark space. If you get the basics of that right you can go up against anybody.
“I have no doubt the possession stats will be firmly in their favour but we have to be pleased with the fact they didn’t expose us and they didn’t put too much pressure on Mark [Gillespie].
“We do have things to talk about because we gave possession away cheaply and our use of the ball up to Jabo [Ibehre] wasn’t good enough. That made it more difficult than it needed to be.”
“They got their goals in what was a good spell for them in the second half but I actually thought we had better shape after the break then we’d seen in the first 45 minutes,” he said. “The disappointing thing there is that we conceded two goals.
“For their first goal, we need to be better inside our own box than in situations like that. Players as good as Ben Davies are going to get crosses in. It’s important you acknowledge that and deal with it.
“Then, when you know they have quick strikers, you simply can’t let them get across you, no matter what happens. If you let them get a run on you they’ll score.
“The second goal was down to poor communication and bad decision making just outside our penalty area. That was disappointing but overall we had a good standing in the game and I thought we coped with their threats well.
“We had a game plan and the lads showed really good attention to detail. Mind you, nowhere in that game plan did it say that Danny Grainger would step onto his weaker foot in time added on and get a goal. As soon as he stepped inside everybody will have been thinking ‘what’s he doing’ and then it quickly went to ‘oooh, fair enough, that’s gone in.’
“We got our reward for showing good attitude today. There was a willingness to do the horrible side of the game from everyone. Alex Gilliead was in a more forward role but he spent a lot of time helping the defenders and trying to get a situation where we could feed off scraps. Sometimes you have to play the game in your own half if it means helping the team to get something.”
“The reason we got the point out of the game is because of the never-say-die attitude we’ve developed within the whole group,” he told us. “There is obviously still massive room for improvement but we’re going in the right direction. We’re getting closer and closer to where we need to be so that we sit comfortably in the top half of this division.
“There’s a sense that we’re comfortable in our shape and in what our roles and responsibilities are. People may say we got out of jail because we’ve scored in the last minute but I don’t agree with that. They didn’t outplay us or cut us open too often in the areas that mattered. That’s because, as I say, we knew we would have to concede possession to them and work hard to stop them from doing anything with it.
“The team doesn’t know when to sit down this season and that’s because we have a very competitive squad. We demand that from each other as a group because we know that we face all of our challenges head on, whatever they are.
“We had some grumblings from the fans but they stuck with us and they got a reward from the game for doing that as well. It’s fair to say we earned that point as a football club.”
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