Keith Curle on Colchester and the importance of set piecesManager Keith Curle gave us his reaction to the hard-earned home victory over Colchester which gave his side a new club record and took them into the automatic promotion places in League Two.
“This is the highest the club has been since I’ve been here and it shows we’re taking steps in the right direction,” he said. “We’re not an arrogant group, and we aren’t over confident in any way, but we’re very hard-working and meticulous.
“We’re passionate about what we do and we know what our roles and responsibilities are. We do all of that, but a key factor to what’s going on at the moment is that we enjoy winning. Put all of that together and you have a squad which is going to want to do the right things.
“There was a bit of nervous tension about the group ahead of kick off but they’re showing us they can handle it. They don’t melt or wither and we don’t take backwards steps when things don’t go our way. It’s a good place to be because there’s vibrancy about the place. It’s lovely to be part of it.”
“We are obviously very pleased about the record,” he admitted. “I met Clive [Middlemass] before the game and it was lovely to be able to sit down and have 15 minutes with him to talk about Carlisle United.
“Clive is part of the history of this football club, because he had this record before, and I will always appreciate the fact he gave up a lot of his own time when I was a young lad to help me along. He saw something in me and he once told me he could get me to play for England.
“I was a winger who hated the physical side of the game at the time and the next thing, after influence from Clive, I was making my name as a combative centre back. Clive can be very proud of being part of that.
“The next record in line is the one that was set in the Conference [13 unbeaten at the start of the season under Paul Simpson] and it would be lovely to see him here if we do manage to get to that. I know him well, I played with him at Wolves, and he’s another who has real fondness for this club.”
“It is a nice record to have and we’re massively proud about it,” he continued. “It shows we have unity and momentum and we’re all facing in the same direction. The chairman popped his head in to the dressing room to say well done at full time and he got a massive cheer off the players.
“That shows they appreciate the backing they’re getting from the club with everything from how they’re allowed to prepare to the training facilities we’ve been given.”
On the game itself, he said: “Credit to Colchester because they started the game really well. They dominated possession but we made sure it wasn’t anywhere that would hurt us. We knew when to press and when to sit off and it made it a relatively quiet afternoon for our keeper.
“We spoke to the lads about the areas where we felt we needed to improve at half time and that was a good opportunity for us to regroup. We weren’t using the full width of the pitch anywhere near enough and we needed to see more movement. I did also tell them that it was the kind of day where we could win the game on a set piece.
“The pleasing thing is that we’re a goal threat and our set pieces were excellent. We looked dangerous from every delivery. Our Friday afternoons are where we have a bit of banter in training and we also do a bit on shape.
“We emphasise certain aspects of the game we feel will be central to the way we want to play and then we spend a good amount of time on set pieces. That paid off for us today. I know it can be boring, repetitive and mundane. What we have to remember is that it gets results, particularly in tight games like this.
“I think the crowd appreciated what they saw from set piece situations because we could have had four goals from them with the quality of delivery we saw. That doesn’t just happen, it’s down to practice and time spent on the training ground.
“It’s an area we looked at last season because Northampton romped it in terms of the number of goals they got from set pieces. We want to replicate that.”
Speaking about the test Colchester provided, he said: “The word professionalism comes to mind with a performance like this. It wasn’t free-flowing or as entertaining as we would want it to be, but we needed to be professional.
“We needed to show patience as well. They’re a good team and they were a division above us last year. They play football in the right way but our goals deflated them. They will upset teams with the way they play because they have a good style about them. I didn’t think they had a cutting edge but that’s down to us and the way we marshalled the threats they had.
“I thought we were competitive in open play and you have to give credit to Colchester for the way they changed their game plan. They flooded areas to stop us from getting any rhythm, but we coped with it and we took our chances.”