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MANAGER: What’s ahead is a challenge but we enjoy challenges

18 April 2017

Keith Curle with his reaction to the Stevenage game

Manager Keith Curle gave us his reaction to the 1-1 home draw with Stevenage shortly after full time on Monday afternoon.

“At this stage of the season, for where we’re at and for what’s at stake, I thought the performance was very good,” he said. “It was back to something like what we were producing through the early part of the season. The football was free-flowing and entertaining and we looked an attacking threat.

“The slight disappointment was that when we got to the final third our quality needed to be a little bit better. Overall we were good in open play and from set pieces and we looked solid defensively. We lost that a little bit when we were trying to get the winner for ten minutes or so, and apart from that they had one header in the first half which Mark [Gillespie] dealt with.

“If we’d be one or two goals up at half time I don’t think there would have been any objections. There were a lot of pleasing aspects to come out of that first half but we definitely could have scored more goals. We had an opportunity with the chances we created to have taken all three points.

“The front two caused problems for their defence and we looked a threat throughout. Jamie Proctor had one or two really good opportunities and I know Jabo is disappointed that he didn’t finish off the cut back from John O’Sullivan. We kept the ball alive in the box and if we keep doing the right things we’ll get our slice of luck when we need it most.”

“The performance shows we’re getting back to where we need to be,” he continued. “Big players are playing their part, which is what we need. When we needed Mark Gillespie he was excellent. That one-on-one save was worthy of being a match winning moment.

“The players bought into the formation we wanted to play. I thought the shape and formation suited us. The aim was to have players in the box and to get balls in there for them with real quality. We managed that and it was no coincidence that we got six or seven quality balls into the box when he got onto the pitch.

“I put him on the bench against my better judgement but it was an educated gamble and it was one where I went against medical advice. Dolly’s assessment was that he needed another four days but, if we really wanted to use him, it was a gamble worth taking.

“I spoke to Nicky at length and he’s been desperate to play. All of the lads are like that and that’s testament to the fact that they all want to play their part. John O’Sullivan came off at Hartlepool and he was able to get himself out of the treatment room and put in a performance which shows that he’s ready for selection again.

“Another one was Macaulay Gillesphey. I his left foot and what he can do with it. If there was an opportunity to sign his left foot I’d sign it. The lad has been out a long time and we managed to get 85 minutes out of him. That shows again that everyone wants to be doing their bit.

“I know if Jason Kennedy hadn’t been feeling tight and stiff he would have been banging on the door to be out there as well. As things stand he’ll be touch and go for the weekend but we’ll be guided by the medical department.”

With Jabo Ibehre making it three goals in three games it looks like the striker is hitting form at exactly the right time.

“Jabo is on fire,” he said. “He’s hungry and he’s what we need right now. He’s enjoying his football and he’s enjoying this football club. He’s something like the player we signed because he’s competing against everybody and he’s confident that he’s going to score goals. We need that type of player and Jamie Proctor is going to benefit from playing beside him.

“It was good to see the two centre forwards combining and I thought they worked well together. Their efforts got the crowd going because they brought others into play. I don’t think many centre backs will be relishing going up against those two at the moment.”

Speaking about the penalty decision which led to the first goal of the game, he said: “They were gifted a goal and something to defend by a decision which, in my mind, was very soft. I’ve had the chance to look at it and I don’t know why it’s been given. I think it’s a poor decision.

“I spoke to the fourth official at the time because I know there was dialogue between him and the referee. The answer I got back was that in the referee’s opinion there was contact. If that was enough to give them a penalty then we should have had four or five.

“Reggie Lambe wasn’t looking at the player, his feet were planted on the ground and he used his body to protect the ball. The lad went over him in an attempt to buy the penalty and I’m in a position where I’m going to have to make a complaint about it.

“I asked the referee to make himself available but I don’t know if that does any good. He’ll say he hasn’t seen it back yet and we’ll ask if he will be accountable for it. I may get a letter of apology, which has happened in the past, but the fact is we need referees and officials to make the right decisions during the game because big decisions have to be correct.”

And on making sure the players are in a positive frame of mind heading into the last three games, he said: “I’m disappointed that we’ve dropped out of the play-offs but we’re at a stage now where we need to focus on the positives.

“There are obvious concerns because of the amount of injuries to key players because they’ve played a pivotal part in the results we’ve had through the second half of the season. That’s something we’ll look at after the season has ended. The bright side is that we have some of these big players coming back.

“What’s ahead is a challenge but we enjoy challenges. I don’t think Stevenage would want to play us in the play-offs and we now have two away games and one home game to gather enough points to get us in there. Teams and managers need a bit of luck every now and then and mine is coming - and it’s coming along at exactly the right time.

“I think we need two wins to get us into the play-offs. From there we should have momentum to see it through it. I back us over two games against anybody and for a one-off game I think we can give anybody in this division a very good game of football.”

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