Keith Curle with reaction to the Hartlepool home victoryManager Keith Curle gave us his thoughts on the fourth victory of the month shortly after full time in what was another action packed game.
“As you can imagine, the atmosphere in the dressing room afterwards was fantastic,” he said. “As far as I’m concerned you let that develop because the players start to realise there’s something in there. You want them to understand what it is and you want them to be part of it.
“They’re all doing their bit because they can keep going for 94 or 95 minutes. Unity is growing and it’s spreading from the inside out. There’s a feeling starting to develop that the people who are now in the building belong here. You notice it as a manager when that starts to happen.
“First and foremost the supporters have got to buy into what you’re trying to create. It looks to me that people are beginning to like what they’re seeing and this is a lovely place to be.”
On the game itself, he said: “You have to give credit to Hartlepool because you can see why they’ve got such a good away record. They use the ball really well and they caused us a few problems early on. We tidied that up at half time because our wide midfield players were playing just a bit too wide.
“I thought we were too open and our midfield looked vulnerable. We gave them possession easily at times and we weren’t affecting the man on the ball enough. In that situation you have to be tactically aware and astute and our coaching staff helped that.
“That’s why we have the eye in the sky [Colin West] to help us to put our jigsaw puzzle together correctly. We changed it and we were better in the second half. We moved things slightly and they started to play narrower, which helped us.
“The man advantage for them was always going to make it difficult but we reshaped, did our jobs and we got our rewards. The sending off actually worked in our favour because we blocked the supply line through the middle of the park. We nullified their threats but they do have some good players and they will cause teams problems this season.”
On the red card shown to in-form striker Shaun Miller, he said: “He’ll be disappointed but you have to say that both of his bookings were probably harsh.
“It’s a learning curve for Shaun because if you hear the whistle and boot the ball away you’re going to get booked. I thought the second one was harsh because he fell over and he tried to grab at it. The ref deemed that as time wasting or deliberate handball, I don’t really know.
“He’ll be a miss for the next game but we have players who are ready to step up. The ball he put across for the Ibehre goal was unplayable. However, we have Charlie Wyke back and Derek Asamoah got his introduction again, which was lovely for him.”
“That was a chance for him to say hello to everyone ... and then get off again!” he joked. “The decision to do that was purely tactical because, as we all know, I don’t owe anybody anything. The only thing I owe is that I’ve got to be true to myself.
“I saw an opportunity to plug some holes at the back and deny their wide players the room they wanted. To do that, having got back in front, I needed to sacrifice him. It was a decision where if I hadn’t done it I’d have been disappointed with myself.”
And on being pegged back twice by Hartlepool during the second half, he said: “We took a smack but what we don’t do is lie down. If you’re a boxer, and you get smacked, that’s when you’re most vulnerable.
“The players knew that, having been smacked a couple of times during the game, but they got up and went straight back at it. We don’t wallow in self pity or anything like that. That’s the sign of a team which knows that everything they get, they’ll have to earn.
“Our players showed big hearts and I have to give a special mention to Lee Fearn, our strength and conditioning coach, because the physical condition of the players is excellent.
“What we have to think about is players can’t do the workload unless you have a level of fitness and attention to detail which is led, monitored and guided by Lee. He’s on top of all of that on a daily basis. He dictates the workload and levels of intensity we work at and it’s producing excellent results.”
Looking ahead to the next game and the chance to claim the unbeaten start to the season record outright, he said: “This group aren’t chasing records but there’s a hunger and a focus about being successful. I’m lucky that I see it on a daily basis because they all get on with their work whenever they need to work.
“Our main focus now is on the next game. Where we are in the table come May will be determined by how many points we gain. It’s a marathon, which we’ve started well, but there will be twists and turns.
“Having said that, we’re putting runs together and we’re getting rewards. We’re a scalp now, but we relish that. There’s a reason for teams to beat us but we won’t shy away from it.”