Manager Keith Curle gave us his reaction to the Morecambe game on Saturday.
“We were beaten by the better team on the day and you have to give credit to Morecambe for that,” he said. “The score line probably even flatters us a little bit. Overall it became a reminder to the players that they have to do the horrible side of the game. The willingness to do that wasn’t there anywhere near enough.
“We scored the goal then took our foot off the gas and that was because, for some reason, we all thought it was going to be our day. They caught us on the break too many times for our liking and the frustrating thing for me is that we’ve worked for the last three days on countering the counter attack. We reminded the lads we were going to be at our most vulnerable when we were attacking.
“It was a message we repeated over and over on Wednesday and Thursday, and again this morning. We’re a second division football club with second division players and sometimes they need to be exposed to things like this for the penny to drop.
“We gave them the information about what could happen and, true to its word, that’s what did happen. They’re probably the best counter attacking team in this division and we didn’t do what we needed to do to prevent it.”
“Today we were exposed by a very good team,” he added. “They are a group who have had a number of years together. They have a manager who has been able to put his ethos in place and that shows through in the way they do things.
“They are set up fantastically well to be an away team but, as I say, we knew that and we thought we’d prepared for it. The disappointing thing is that the reminders we gave through the week about keeping one eye on the back door when we were attacking weren’t heeded.
“We still managed to cause them problems but our only real threat came with the pace of Derek Asamoah. We just didn’t use that enough and we became too predictable. I felt it was a game where we missed the physical presence up front. Michael Raynes won his headers when he went up there but that wasn’t until late in the game.
“I’m hoping both Charlie Wyke and Jabo Ibehre will be back within two weeks. Hopefully Charlie will be back in training on Monday and we’ll see if we get any reaction to that. What we don’t want is to rush these lads back only to have them go missing for another six weeks through another injury. They’re good players and we need them. Any team in this division is going to miss their leading goal scorer and I thought we needed that kind of focal point today.”
“It’s a deflated changing room because they have bruised egos and dented pride,” he explained. “However, we have to hold our hands up and say we didn’t put a shift in as a group. That’s something we won’t accept. Every time we’ve taken our foot off the gas in a game this season we’ve been punished. It’s a reminder that we have to do our jobs as individuals and then collectively we will get a reward.
“We outnumbered them 4v3 in midfield but what we didn’t do was have the movement and rotation you need to go with that. You get days like these. We did see more than enough of the ball but we turned down the simple pass and went for the eye of the needle stuff. We tried to make things like that happen when the space simply wasn’t there to do it in the first place. The lads know themselves they didn’t perform. They will tell you they emptied the tank but I don’t think they did. I know there’s more to come from them.”
On the misplaced pass which led to the equaliser, he said: “It was a mistake from Macaulay Gillesphey but he has to deal with that. In our naivety we tried to protect him after he’d made the wrong decision with the manner of his pass, and by doing that it meant players suddenly weren’t doing their own jobs.
“Our distances and decision making suffered more and we’ve lost the game because of it. As far as I’m concerned, if players are found out individually they learn from it. We don’t need to start protecting them. The message to Macaulay is to say welcome to your trade and to life as a professional footballer. You’ve made a mistake so learn from it and deal with it.
“It’s a fantastic learning curve for the lad because it’s now about how he picks himself up. As we sit here right now, and if we can tie up his loan deal, he’ll definitely be playing next week. It’s a time for him to man up because it’s all part of his development. Let me tell you, I made hundreds of mistakes, but I made sure I learned from them.
“I like Macaulay. He’s got talent and ability and he will have a very good career. We’re trying to extend both him and Alex [Gilliead] until the end of the season and we’ve had preliminary conversations with Newcastle about that. They’re more than happy with what we’re doing with these lads because they’re playing league football. We’ll see what comes of that this week.”
Speaking about the yellow card shown to Derek Asamoah, he said: “In the referee’s opinion he must have thought Derek was trying to gain an advantage by simulating contact with the goalkeeper.
“If I’d been the referee and I thought he’d done that, I’d have booked him as well. I haven’t spoken to him but he’s the kind of player who would have stayed on his feet and gone round the keeper, so he must have expected to hit his legs for that to happen.
“It was a strange day for Derek. He had three one on ones and if he’d taken different options it could have been a completely different story. The daft thing is that the hardest chance he had was the one he scored from. On another day he’d have finished the others off as well and he’d be sat here right now with the match ball in his hands.”
And on how the group will approach another full week of training, he said: “I think you learn from every game, win or lose. We went away from our principles today because some of the work rate just wasn’t right. As I say, the willingness to do the horrible side of the game went missing and we were punished.
“This next few days is a chance for the players to reflect on what they did in the game, and also on what they did during the week leading up to the game as well. They had a bit of down time so they have to look at whether or not they used it wisely enough. Sitting in cars to go up and down the motorway does take it out of you, especially after two long away trips, so we’ll analyse everything to see if there is any area we need to address.
“There is money available if we want to move in the loan market but we aren’t results driven in our decision making. We know what we want and we have a dossier we can dip into if we need to. We are aware of which players would fit into our style of play so we are in a position to move if we feel that’s the right thing to do.”