Keith Curle with his reaction to the Hartlepool gameUnited manager Keith Curle gave us his reaction to the away draw at Hartlepool on Good Friday.
“In a derby game like that you always expect it to be close and the first goal is always important,” he said. “I thought we created enough chances after that to have scored one or two more goals. We were a danger from set pieces and there were one or two good saves and blocks by them where they cleared the ball off the line.
“I think they had two shots on target and they had that little bit of luck to get their goal, so that brings a little bit of frustration for us. I thought we dealt with their lively attacking threat very well and I thought we looked like the side who would win it.”
“I thought we looked like a decent attacking threat,” he continued. “We have to be pleased with Jabo [Ibehre] because he looks like he’s back to his best. He gave us a goal threat and a good physical presence and we were able to build off him.
“He’s rolling back the years and you can see he’s got the bit between his teeth. He’s had a frustrating time with injuries. He’s back in the squad and getting games and we all know what Jabo is like when he gets that momentum behind him. He had it when he first came here and he went on a run of scoring goals where he believed he would score every time he went on the pitch.
“It might be that we end the season with the same Jabo that came to the football club. It’s fantastic to come off the pitch and hear the fans idolising the centre forward and singing his name on the back of scoring a goal and being a threat during the whole game.
“I thought the partnership he had with Jamie Proctor worked very well in the first half. They caused the defence problems and we need a little bit more of the same going forward from here.”
Speaking more about the overall performance, he said: “We’re in that squeaky bum time at the end of the season where anything can happen. Today was long grass on a bobbly pitch and a bit of wind which meant it was never going to be a spectacle. Sometimes you have to play a bit of percentage football so that the team can get forward and get after it.
“I felt we could have had a little bit more in terms of the quality of delivery but overall it was a good point away from home. I thought the formation worked and the players took the information on board really well.
“This is the time of the season where the players earn their crust as they try to get to that next level. We’re trying to stay in focus because in the games we’re playing at the moment it’s about the team that makes the least amount of mistakes. If you get the mentality of going into a game not wanting to make mistakes, guess what? You make mistakes.
“I’d say for their goal that on this occasion they got the luck they needed. The clearance hit him in the stomach and fell right, but I felt it could have been cleared before that. We’re not getting the rub of the green but I am pleased with the response from the disappointment of last week. Hartlepool are fighting for their lives so it’s good to earn a point from a tough fixture.”
On the enforced substitution of wide man John O’sullivan, he said: “He’s another who will be absent for a period of time, but we’ve got some good players coming back. We seem to be at a stage where when we get one player back from injury another gets injured, one in-one out.
“John came off with a groin/thigh problem and when a player comes off the pitch and it isn’t down to a tactical change from myself it’s never good news. Hopefully we’ll have some good news the other way with players being available.
“We’ve got Jason Kennedy chomping at the bit and Nicky Adams doing field based training. I’ll have to be guided by Neil Dalton and take his expert view as to whether Monday will be a little bit too soon.
“Jason has come back ahead of schedule and I think the work he’s been doing has just caught up with him. We had to take him out of the firing line and let it settle down. He’s been training in pain because he’s that desperate to be involved. Sometimes you have to tell the players that they aren’t doing themselves any favours and there’s still plenty of time for him to play a massive part.
“Nicky Adams is a possibility for Monday. Nicky is desperate to be involved but you have to take the professional advice of Dolly. If he says keep the reins on him for one more game to give him another week, which would guarantee having Nicky available for the remaining three games, you’ve got to listen to that professional advice ... and then pick him anyway!”
Looking ahead to the Stevenage game on Monday, he said: “We had fantastic support on Friday and we want that again. We’ll have more people there and I’m sure they’ll be even more vocal.
“The players are giving everything they’ve got because they do appreciate the backing they get. We wanted to score in front of them at Hartlepool because it would have taken the roof off the place.
“I know they are desperate for us to do well. That has got to be channelled into cheering on Monday. It’s one of those, no matter what you’re thinking, cheer us and back the players. Give us everything you’ve got and we will try and deliver for you.”