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MANAGER: We were thrown a challenge

17 February 2016

Keith Curle with reaction to the Accrington Stanley away game

Manager Keith Curle gave us his reaction to the incident packed away draw at Accrington Stanley on Tuesday night.

“I’m pleased with the draw but I’m disappointed we didn’t get three points,” he said. “We showed resilience and understanding of what was needed in the first half because we kept them to just a couple of skirmishes inside the box.

“I think the character and strength we showed is something we're building. We need that because we're going to get different challenges. We were thrown a challenge tonight and I thought we came up with a lot of good answers.”

“We held a good defensive shape and we showed a lot of patience,” he continued. “They went to long diagonal balls which didn’t hurt us and we were happy about that. The discipline was there from us with how we needed to play, but there is some disappointment mixed in for us because if we’d had eleven men on the pitch I think it could have been a different game.

“We had to change our game plan but we did enough to at least warrant a share of the points. Normal service has resumed because we got back to a competitive performance with good levels of controlled aggression. They weren't able to play through us, they weren't able to play round us and they weren't able to draw us out. We were disciplined, organised and professional.”

On the red card shown to striker Jabo Ibehre just moments after kick off, he said: “I have to be careful with what I say but I do think it was a poor decision. Hopefully it was an error and you accept that mistakes happen out on a football pitch. 

“I will be bitterly disappointed if the appeal isn’t successful because I’ve watched it back and even Sky Sports have said it was never a sending off. Jabo was looking at the ball and he put his leg up to control it. The lad then ran into the inside of his leg. 

“I'm assuming the referee thought he'd levelled him with intent with an outstretched leg. The disappointing thing is the linesman and the fourth official both said they didn't see it, but at half time the referee said he got a clear view. It was also disappointing to see seven or eight Accrington players in and around the referee, giving him their opinion, and the lad had to stay down because of that.”

“Our performances in the two games against a side full of confidence over the last ten days show that the character of the squad has completely changed,” he commented. “I have to say it’s for the better and we want that improvement to continue. 

“I have Premier League standards and my intention is to get the best and make the most out of everything I have at my disposal. We could have played a little bit more, if I’m being honest. There were times when we gave it away too cheaply but there were others when we won it back and kept it well. Ultimately it was a good performance and we come away feeling much happier than we did on Saturday.

“We don’t like to concede goals and there are always things you can learn when you do. Hallam [Hope] slightly lost his bearings in the lead up to their goal. He thought there was a player there so he wanted to get some sort of contact on it to keep the ball moving. He probably could have brought it down because he had more time than he thought. Unfortunately it went straight to their lad and we didn't defend the cross well enough.

“I thought Hallam was a threat and he showed bits and pieces of the player we know he can be. He's coming back into the fold and I think it was important for him to put that shift in and get the workload into him.

“It was good to see Steven Rigg come back into the fold. If we do lose Jabow we know we have Hallam Hope and Derek Asamoah who can play up front, and Alex Gilliead can play off the centre forward in that kind of role. Along with that, Charlie Wyke showed how much he’s learned recently by being able to be a physical presence.

“Dave Atkinson did a good job on the left for us. He's got good feet and he can move the ball very well. I thought we needed our best one-on-one defender against their winger and if their lad had changed sides Dave would have gone with him. I don't think their lad enjoyed playing against Dave at all.

“That all tells me there’s no need for me to go out and panic loan players, but we have got targets and we are actively looking to add quality to the group in all areas. We looked at a player on Monday, for example, but we got the feedback on Tuesday morning that he’s unavailable. It’s one they might consider again later in the window so we may look at it again.

“As I’ve said before, I could go and fill the changing room with players just for the sake of it, but I’m not prepared to do that. We’re in a position now where I’m looking for players who will come in and make a big difference.”

“Macaulay Gillesphey wasn't in the squad because of a tactical decision,” he said. “That's something the players have a full understanding of. I pick teams that are right for the game and I think that shows the strength in depth we've got. We've got players coming back in now so everyone is fighting for their places.

“Tom [Miller] is going to be missing for a number of weeks but we’re hoping to get him back to field based training as quickly as possible. The good news is that Danny Grainger might be back to field based training in a short period of time. He’s chomping at the bit to get back out there and he’s doing all the work he can to make that happen.”

And his final word was for the supporters. 

“The number of fans who came down here is fantastic,” he said. “A lot of them will have seen the diabolical performance we gave here last time round and I’m so glad we’ve put that away. They deserved a much better display and I think they’ll go away from here knowing they got it.”

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