Keith Curle with reaction to the Leyton Orient victory
Manager Keith Curle gave us his reaction to the away victory at Brisbane Road shortly after full time on Tuesday night.
“The manner of the victory is really pleasing,” he said. “We’ve come to Leyton Orient’s back garden and they’re a side in good form. They are riding high, full of confidence and they have some very good players.
“They’re going to upset a few teams this season because they have dangerous players. They’ll score goals here and they’ll pick up points, but we managed to stretch them and score at vital moments.”
“Today was about setting our team out to make sure we could nullify their strengths, but also keep one eye on the fact that we do score goals,” he continued. “We felt we had a good game plan and we had experienced players out there who understood their roles and responsibilities.
“We took some of our flair players out of the game because we felt we needed to show solidity for the full 90 minutes. I have to say, I felt we did that excellently.”
“This game has put Liverpool to bed,” he told us. “We’ve had that as the excuse with what happened at York and then again with what happened against Newport. That’s gone now and we’re back to the business of putting in committed and professional performances across the board.”
On making seven changes to the starting line up, he said: “The squad is developing a team mentality. We have good players who were left out tonight even though they started on Saturday.
“I’ve said before, I don’t owe any of these players anything. My job is to pick a team which I think will get us results. Today was a day for Derek Asamoah. We knew we could use him for 75 or 80 minutes and then get Alex Gilliead on to continue with his role.
“Sometimes people underestimate the work rate Derek goes through when we play him as a lone striker, but he is tireless with the way he does it. He has the experience to know you get rewards if you keep plugging away and making your runs.
“It was going to be a game of trying to catch them on the break because they were at home, and there were going to be occasions when they would over commit to go in search of a goal. That’s when you need players with pace who can exploit the gaps. That’s why it wasn’t a day for Steven Rigg, Patrick Brough or Joe Thompson, but they travelled with us because they are part of what we want to do.”
Speaking about the quality of the winning goal, bagged by Antony Sweeney with just over 15 minutes left to play, he said: “We’re really pleased for him. He’s known as a good professional and a real gentleman, and he is a player who epitomises professionalism.
“He shows everyone a lot of the things we need to build on at this football club, because sometimes you have to accept you won’t be playing every week. If you conduct yourself properly and prepare mentally and physically as well as you can, as he does, then you’ll perform when you’re called on. The one thing missing from his game recently has been goals. Don’t be surprised if he now goes on a little run and scores a few, because he does have a knack for it.
“He was made available but every player who is in the last year of their contract is on the transfer list. They know that and they’re good professionals who are buying in to what we’re doing. They all know it’s a strong squad, so don’t be surprised if players who have had 90 minutes in a winning team tonight aren’t involved at the weekend. That’s the strength of the squad I feel we’ve built.”
On the injury to Jabo Ibehre, he said: “We’ve been told it’s not as bad as we first thought. The situation now is that he will be fit when he’s fit. Dolly will be working away to make sure he’s available as soon as possible. What we won’t do is rush someone back until we know he’s ready, but it goes without saying I want him back as quickly as possible.
“We’ve shown we have players who can cover situations like this but we’re always working away, as you can imagine, and we do have irons in the fire. We don’t want to start using our recruitment process as a short-term fix so we’ll continue to look for players we feel can add quality and something extra to the squad.
“We now have a situation where Alex Gilliead has potentially been called up for the England U20 squad. We could lose him from 4 to 14 October. We’ve spoken to Newcastle, and with the FA, to discuss the fact that this is a player who is learning his trade by playing league football. If we do make the request we could find that he’ll be able to stay with us and possibly even extend his loan spell.”
A talking point from the game was the removal of the manager and Orient coach Andy Hessenthaler following a brief second half altercation.
“I was asked to go three rows back to avoid any further confrontation,” he explained. “Their staff were pointing the finger at my staff and if there’s one thing you can say about me it’s that I’m very protective of my players, my staff and of the football club. I certainly won’t back down if someone is in my face.”
His final words were for the fans.
“What else can we say about them?” he asked. “All I could hear was their voices and it’s fantastic to be able send them home with smiles on their faces. They’ve seen their team put in another committed performance and I think that’s all they will ever ask for.”
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