Keith Curle with reaction to the Exeter winManager Keith Curle gave us his reaction to another amazing afternoon at Brunton Park.
“It was a good response from last weekend’s defeat,” he agreed. “I demanded a response and reaction from the players from when we got back together earlier in the week and there is no finer way of doing that than by playing at home and winning a very entertaining game.
“We saw some of areas of our game we don’t like, but ultimately the rousing finish has made it a good day for us. The support was with us right the way through the game, even though we weren’t getting things our own way on the pitch. That’s massive because you can feel that coming from terraces whether you’re a player, a coach or a manager.
“Every single one of our fans was willing us to do something. They were sucking the ball into the net. The players sensed it and they wanted to get something out of the game to send everyone home happy.”
“We were disappointed with the first goal, I think that goes without saying,” he told us. “It’s something we need to look at again because we know we’ve given enough information to the players to help them deal with situations they’re going to face.
“I knew Reuben Reid as a youngster at Torquay and he has developed into a very good player. We didn’t deal with that early situation well enough and he did what he does. That left us a goal down within two minutes and that’s never going to be ideal.
“However, the pleasing thing is we had a look at the body language of our players and it didn’t affect us. People didn’t hide and that’s important. We have players who take responsibility and they try to put it right.”
“As I say, it was disappointing to go behind so early because our players are given everything they need before they go into a game to be able to nullify the opposition threat,” he added. When things like that happen it’s down to poor decision making. We accept mistakes but players who keep making consistent errors will lose out, because that’s the competitive nature of the squad.
“However, we’re a team that’s still learning, both individually and collectively. We know we’re making it difficult if we’re giving teams an opportunity to get a foothold in the way we have in the last two games. The pleasing thing is that we’ve kept going and we’ve come out of the other end with a victory.”
Speaking about today’s opposition, he said: “I spoke to Paul [Tisdale] after the game and we’ve got to sympathise with him. We earned a bit of luck today by sheer endeavour and by being prepared to keep pushing away, even though we weren’t playing our best football.
“Exeter played some good football and they have good principles about how they want to play. Being honest, you’d say they deserved to get something out of the game. They’ve scored twice against a team playing very well but, in this game, when you’re at the wrong end of the table you tend to find things just don’t go your way.
“Results aren’t going their way so they’ll be working hard at the moment to make sure they don’t fragment. They are miles better than where they are in the table and I think they’ll turn it round quickly. It’s no surprise to me they’re so good away from home and Paul knows they need to start winning soon, and I’m sure that will be the case.”
On the decisions he made to add impetus to the attacking side of our play, he said: “We had to be brave so we went to two at the back, and we left Raynesy up front. All of my staff – Simon Tracey, Lee Dykes and Colin West – told me to get him back in defence after Shaun Miller’s goal but I told them that wasn’t going to happen because I wanted us to go and get another one.
“That happened with the Charlie Wyke winner and the first thing Nicky Adams said to him when it all settled was ‘Charlie, you’ve gone from Smelly to Pele with two kicks of a ball!’
“I was happy for us to play two against two in defence because sometimes that makes it easier. The players know they have a man to mark and that they have to get the ball forward quicker. Raynesy is a good weapon in both penalty boxes and he unsettled them by being there. The other changes we made showed the strength we have in the squad.
“When we took Jason [Kennedy] and Jabo [Ibehre] off the pitch, that was something like 15 goals between them. Pleasingly we were able to bring people on who had different attributes, and that’s what having a squad is all about.”
“We’re obviously pleased for Shaun Miller because he deserved his goal,” he said. “He has an eye for goal and he’s a fantastic finisher. He had good aggression about him as well and that was good to see.
“He’s a player who did not want to be dropped today and I like to see centre forwards who are hungry. All of our subs worked because they came on with a point to prove and they showed that they want to be involved.”
A blemish on an otherwise perfect ending to the game came when substitute Jamie Devitt was shown two yellow cards, both coming very late in the day.
“Some people are saying it was harsh but I think it was an unnecessary sending off,” he commented. “The referee deemed the second card to be for a challenge from behind but I think it was a genuine attempt to win the ball.
“Jamie has to learn that screaming, gesticulating and shouting at the referee won’t change anything. I played in excess of 800 league games and I can tell you that I never saw anybody succeed in getting the referee to change his mind – not once.
“Mind you, I had to apologise to the fourth official because my conduct was a little bit over-excitable. I’m big enough to do that if I’ve been too strong in my views and on this occasion I had a discussion about how play was stopped when the lad went down beside their keeper. I didn’t think the restart was handled properly but I still felt the right thing to do was to apologise, so that’s what I did.”
United PlayerHD subscribers can see an interview with Keith Curle now. Click HERE to go to the PlayerHD platform. Follow the same link for more information on United PlayerHD, and to subscribe.