Keith Curle with reaction to the Exeter home victory
Manager Keith Curle gave us his reaction to the home victory over Exeter City on Saturday.
“I thought we deserved the win, particularly with the way we did things in the second half,” he said. “The first half was fairly even but the majority of the play was in their half after the break.
“We had a constant source of attack without quite having that final little bit of magic or extra quality which would have made a difference. We got behind them a lot and you could tell the goal was coming.”
“Exeter are a good team,” he added. “Paul Tisdale has instilled an ethos over a number of years and they’re playing the way he wants them to play. They consistently play above League Two standard year in and year out. We’re nowhere near that being the case but we’re pleased to say we’ve come a very long way in a short period of time.
“We’ve recruited players who are now giving us more and more options. I’m at a stage where I can play any formation I think will work because we have the personnel to cover it. That will cause most oppositions we come up against more than a few problems.
“What we’ve built here is a group which is competitive. The only time I get a little bit irate and despondent is if we don’t compete. There was a level of aggression in this game which was very pleasing. We’re growing a unity which involves every single person who has an allegiance with Carlisle United.”
“We changed formation for this game and some people will say 4-4-2 was negative, but I don’t see it that way,” he commented. “We’ve played the last couple of games with three centre backs, and today we played with two, but that was so we could offer more people to the cause when going forward.
“This was a day where we needed to be solid, but we also wanted to make sure we could play through their lines when it was the right time to do that. It’s a clean sheet and we’ve scored a goal. We aren’t going to be too far away if we can do that more often than not.
“Leaving Macaulay [Gillesphey] out was a decision I thought was the right thing to do. He had a difficult test last week and he responded very well in training. Sometimes you need to take a player out of the firing line and make sure they don’t get exposed. That can have a negative impact. I told him to enjoy watching and observing and to make sure the hunger was still there. I know it is and I also know he’ll be back. He’s another very, very good player.”
“Staying patient is something we’ve worked on,” he said. “I know our fans want to see goalmouth action, and so do I, but not at the expense of constantly being caught on the counter-attack. That’s why we went with the personnel we selected to make sure we had a solid platform to rebound back from as soon as one of the opposition attacks had failed. I think the crowd are starting to enjoy the possession football they’re watching and they understand that sometimes we will need to have that level of patience.
“I wanted to get it across to the players that they had to listen to me and not to the crowd, if things started to get a little bit edgy. We haven’t collected players for the type of football which means the ball goes into the box as early as possible. We want a style of football which will allow us to be continually successful. We want to play a passing game and we are now able to recruit players to fit that cause.”
“Alex Gilliead is a good example of that,” he told us. “He was our strength against a weakness we felt we could exploit at the back. We knew we needed to shift the ball quickly so they couldn’t double up on him and the players took to that very well.
“I’m very pleased for Alex. He topped off a fantastic week for himself by keeping his head and coming back into the team to do what he was in there to do. He gave us a fantastic performance. We wanted him to start on the right hand side because we thought there was an opportunity there. The more he got on the ball the more you thought he was potentially going to be our match winner.
“He was up against an experienced professional but he’s going to do what he did to him to a lot of people. He’ll get more goals but he still needs to learn about decision making when he arrives in the final third. The quality of the pass from Derek for his goal should teach him a good lesson. For him to have held his run to be in the right place shows that he has got an understanding of his role.
“I don’t think I’ll need to keep his feet on the ground. He’s a very level-headed and balanced lad. He’s a team player and he has the characteristics of somebody who is only going to get better. I don’t think it’s a case of if Alex can go to the very top - it’s more a case of when, because he is a very good player.
“He has an excellent level of maturity and he’s shown everyone the ability he has. He’s one who can go past people, inside and outside, and he did that almost at will. His natural ability means he can play almost anywhere in an attacking sense, even if that’s as an advanced midfield player.
“To have that level of flexibility is a plus for any young player. Getting him here is a credit to our recruitment policy because we have an extensive dossier on him, and he’s delivered exactly what it says on the tin.”
On the contribution of one of his substitutes to the goal which won the game, he said: “We had a collective view that we needed to go back to a back four for this one. We felt it was the best formation to allow us to counter what was always going to be a well organised side.
“We forced them deeper and deeper and in the end it was set up for Derek [Asamoah] to come on and do something. It’s easy to say that it went to plan in hindsight because I didn’t think this was a game where we’d get the best from Derek by starting with him, even though he’s scored a few goals recently.
“He was always going to be a threat in the latter stages and that’s how it turned out. I think he had a point to prove because I know he was disappointed not to have been given the nod. He feels he’s a goal threat and there is a hunger about him at the moment. That’s the kind of Derek I like.”
And on the first half injury picked up by Michael Raynes, he said: “Michael took another knock on a badly bruised hip he’d picked up a few weeks ago. I’m hoping he’ll be fine for Tuesday.
“None of these lads want to drop out of the squad but he’s a real professional and he knows if he’s not at 100% then he won’t put his name forward for Northampton. That’s the level of honesty we have in the squad.
"You can’t afford to have a below par performance because you know there are people ready to step in, so he won’t risk that if it means he’ll play with something which will impact on the way he usually plays.”
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