Keith Curle with reaction to the Crawley victoryManager Keith Curle gave us his reaction to the impressive victory over Crawley Town in front of a jubilant crowd on Saturday.
“Aspects of the game were very pleasing because it was an excellent professional approach,” he said. “The application and attention to detail was there from the players and their mindset was right going into the game.
“There’s a professional pride when you’re seeing things that you’re working on come together. That’s not just work done in the last week, or the week before, because we’ve been working on much of what’s happening now consistently since pre-season onwards.
“We knew we wanted to be an attacking threat and dangerous from set pieces and part of the work we did during the summer was to look at why Northampton had been so successful. One of things that worked for them was that they were top of the table in creating and scoring goals from set pieces.
“Funnily enough we were in the top three ourselves, but we knew it was an area we needed to improve on. Every team will have weaknesses from set pieces and we work hard to identify where they are.”
“There were a lot of plus points but I have to say that I’m disappointed with the way we conceded the goal,” he commented. “It’s even more disappointing because it came from a set piece. Everyone knows within the group that clean sheets are part of what we’re striving for. Yes, we want to score goals, but we also want to keep the back door shut.
“We’ll enjoy the victory, but we’ll also make sure we look at any lessons to be learned. The important thing now is that our mindset, mentality and professionalism don’t change. I’m very happy that the group we’ve got won’t allow that to happen.
“The focus and work ethic is there because they know the work they’re doing is going to give them the best opportunity to put in a performance whereby they’re able to get the rewards their efforts deserve.
“Luke Joyce’s goal is an example of that. He’s been working on that, but we’re doing finishing sessions to make sure midfield players have the confidence and technique to score goals. His goal in that game is exactly what the lad deserves. If that doesn’t win Goal of the Weekend and Goal of the Season then it’s going to have to be a very, very good goal which beats it.
“The lads take the mickey and call it the ‘Luke Joyce finishing session’ but it’s done to get the lad confidence and to get him used to banging it when the chance comes. As I’ve said a number of times, if the midfielders are getting goals then we have a real chance. The reaction to the goal from the crowd and the players is an example of the unity we’ve talked about, because it is coming for us.”
“It’s hard work that brings rewards like that because we’re very aware that we need all of our midfielders to score goals,” he explained. “If they’re doing that for us it means if we can’t knock on the door one way we’ll be able to adapt and find a way through another way.
“Jason Kennedy is getting his share and that’s reward for the hard work he’s doing in training. He doesn’t just turn up on a Saturday and score. He works hard through the week on finishing and both Colin and Lee are putting sessions on to make sure we’re getting players into areas of the pitch where we think we can cause problems. Jason is one of the players who consistently gets into those areas.”
On the absence of Macaulay Gillesphey from the match day squad, he said: “He took a knock in training and we’re hoping that will respond quickly. People say there are no secrets in football and I can’t believe we managed to keep that news away from everybody.
“We didn’t want it to be seen as a negative and we didn’t want any anxieties about it. Pleasingly we’ve seen that we have players who can adapt and we looked a solid unit. We went with Mark Ellis at left back because we’d studied Crawley and we knew one of their out-balls was going to be a diagonal.
“He’s very confident with dealing with high balls, as is Tom Miller on the other side. That was the thinking behind it because we didn’t want them getting any momentum from knock downs having switched play.
“We felt we needed a natural defender. He stepped in and he was fantastic and it tells me a lot about the strengths and qualities we have in this squad. There are good choices in there and we saw with the substitutions we made that we can change things up again if we need to.
“When we sent Patrick Brough on his instructions were simple - stop the supply from their right winger and he did that very well. He’s still a development player and he’s at a football club now where the bar has been raised. He knows he has to keep working hard physically, technically and tactically, and that he has to take the opportunities as and when they come.”
And on the injury picked up by right back Tom Miller, he said: “He had a lad stand on his hip. He’s under the watchful eye of Dolly now. We’ll know more about him and Macca early next week.”