Keith Curle with reaction to the Plymouth game
Manager Keith Curle gave us his reaction to the Plymouth Argyle game shortly after full time on Saturday.
“I have a changing room full of very disappointed players,” he said. “This game was built up before kick off as a challenge and a test against a team who are top of the league. Plymouth are a side full of confidence and direction, and they’re getting results, so I challenged the group to go head-to-head with that.
“We competed and I don’t think we backed down in any way. I thought Plymouth defended their 18-yard box and their six-yard box exceptionally well and that’s what won them the game in the end. That is in no way derogatory to our defence because it took two deflected goals to beat us.”
“We didn’t get the luck or the run of the ball which comes to teams who are up at the top of the table,” he continued. “Having said that, the luck they got is something you have to earn and I can’t take anything from the manner in which a very good side has taken the points.
“The lesson for us to learn is that if you do your jobs as individuals you will get opportunities. My job now is to identify the areas where we could have caused them more problems. We’re getting better but there is still more we need to do against teams like this.
“Overall we had a few skirmishes in the box but not enough of note to cause them the amount of headaches I would have liked to have seen. But I know that if you speak to their coaching team I’m sure they’d say they wouldn’t want to play us week in, week out. There are a lot of positives to come out of the game for us and we will use them to help us to move forward.”
“We did enjoy some good spells of possession but you can see why Plymouth don’t concede many goals,” he commented. “We put some good balls into their box and it annoyed me that we had three flicks from Michael Raynes in the first half which fell inside their area.
“We asked the question why nobody was there to toe-poke it in because it was something we had practiced and trained for. That frustrated me because Michael looked a threat every time he went forward. I didn’t think we anticipated and gambled enough in the first half but we looked more of a goal threat after the break.
“If we’d gone ahead in the game I don’t think they’d have caught us. On another day Derek Asamoah would have had clean strikes at goal, but we’ve played against a team at the top of the league and we’ve been beaten by two deflections. Mark Gillespie had just two catches to make in the second half and that was against a team full of confidence. There were a lot of positives to take out of it and if we’d got the run of the ball it could have been a different story for us.”
“I’m disappointed for the lads, because the effort and commitment were there, but the confidence hasn’t dropped because of this result,” he insisted. “We’ve had a lot of distractions recently but we’ve used them as challenges. We’ve lost a game of football but we were very competitive, and that’s important.
“Defensively we looked strong and the goal from the free kick was one of those which was covered until it took that deflection. The same happened with their second goal when it hit somebody and looped over Mark. We take it on the chin and use it as a learning curve for the players. We know there are areas we still need to work on, and areas of quality where we can improve, but the foundations are there for us.”
“I have to say thank you to Blackburn for hosting this game for us,” he said. “The players were desperate to play and the facilities here are fantastic. We’ve been looked after really well and you can see this is a very professional football club.
“Everyone here has been absolutely superb. The staff have conducted themselves with a huge amount of respect for us and the players have been made to feel like professional footballers. I thought the fans stepped up to the challenge as well. Vocally they made it feel like a home game and we’re just disappointed we weren’t able to give them even more to shout about.”
And on the absence of talisman striker Jabo Ibehre, he said: “He was a big miss for us but, with the circumstances he faced, he was in the right place. He had a phone call from his partner on Thursday to tell him that his young daughter had been taken ill.
“She was hospitalised and he had to be there with her - both for her sake and for his partner. We got some good news when we heard the illness had been successfully diagnosed and our thoughts as a club and a playing staff are with him and his family at this time.
“Hopefully, now they know what they’re dealing with, it will be a very speedy recovery. I spoke to him on Friday and there was more good news when we heard his daughter was responding to treatment, so there’s no doubt in my mind that he is in the right place at this moment in time.”
“As soon as the situation arose it was an absolute no-brainer as to what we had to do for him,” he told us. “Families come first, second and third at this football club. We’re very mindful of the responsibilities everyone has as a family member and people will always get that time if they need it. In a situation like this there is no point in having the player here physically if mentally he is still dealing with the problem he has. What’s happening at home is the important thing for him at this moment in time.
“We did obviously miss him out on the field of play because he’s a focal point with the way he plays the game. He’s a goal threat and a striking partner but I have to say I thought Charlie Wyke did very well.”
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