Keith Curle with his reaction to the Newport County gameWe spoke to manager Keith Curle about how he felt after a tough day at Rodney Parade as his side fell to their first defeat in sixteen league outings.
“I don’t like it,” he said. “We came to a very difficult place and we gave them a head start. That meant we struggled to get into the rhythm of it, because of the conditions, and we didn’t look anything like we know we can.
“When you come here you have to stand your ground and do the basics. At times those basics weren’t at the required level. Look at Macaulay’s clearance for their first goal. It was on his left foot and you can probably say he has one of the most cultured left feet in this division. Unfortunately all he did was keep the ball alive in the box, but we’re all going to get setbacks like this.”
“We changed the shape in the second half and we had almost total dominance after that,” he added. “I think they had two shots and they scored from one of them. There were enough final third entries from us but the quality we needed was lacking from a lot of them.
“With the dominance we had in the second half I think we’d have gone on to win the game if we’d managed to get a goal. We didn’t, but credit to the players because we kept going. There was enough of the ball in the right areas for us, but it didn’t go our way.
“I’ve just spoken to the players and I’ve reminded them that we’ve had a phenomenal start to the season. We’ve played sixteen league games and we were undefeated in fifteen. What we do now is start again.”
“A lot of things went against us but we still managed to show some of the qualities we have,” he commented. “Unfortunately the opening didn’t come our way, but that’s football. We’ve worked extremely hard to get a few club records and to get to where we are in the league, so nothing changes on that score.
“Their second goal is an example of it just not being our day. The lad has tried to smash it out as part of his clearance and it’s gone straight to their player. That set them on the attack and we’d committed a lot of men forward as we looked for a goal of our own.
“We also felt there was something in the appeals when Michael Raynes was held. I asked the referee about it afterwards because I felt the positioning of the linesman on the near side didn’t give him the opportunity to see what he needed to see.
“If you take a look at the penalty given against us when we played Stevenage it was almost the same. It could have been a different story if that had been given, but it wasn’t to be.”
On the performance of the home side, he said: “Newport have to take credit because they’re fighting for their lives. We’ve been in that position ourselves as a football club and we know exactly what it’s like.
“They got the leg-up they needed early in the game and they stuck to it. They showed good unity and organisation and they got the rewards. We gave them something to defend so we knew we needed to find another way to knock on the door. As I say, it didn’t run for us but we know the quality is there and that we can turn it round.
“I’ve spoken honestly in the dressing room about what I saw because we’d told the players it was a game we could win or lose in the first few minutes. As it turned out we made it an uphill battle for ourselves.”
And on the reaction he wants to see from the group, he said: “We take it on the chin. I think we’ll be a very dangerous animal now. The lads are disappointed because they know the things we told them to look out for happened.
“What we do now is regroup and prepare for next week in exactly the same way as if we’d won. Our focus is on the next game right away. We’re doing very well at the moment, this result aside, and we shouldn’t forget that.
“We’ve been beaten in a game of football and we have to accept that’s going to happen. The important thing now is that we need to react. A lot of good work has gone into the start of the season and that won’t change.
“I think the fans go away from here knowing they’ve seen effort, commitment and desire. A lot of boxes were ticked other than the fact we didn’t get the result. That’s the only negative to roll out of it for me.”