Manager Keith Curle gave us his reaction to the impressive Carabao Cup round one victory over Fleetwood Town on Tuesday night.
“I’ve just said to the players that very quickly the changing room has again picked up the spirit, character, belief, willingness, desire and understanding of how we want to play,” he said. “They’ve taken on board when and where it’s the right time for us to play our game and when we just have to do the job.
“This is a difficult place to come and play because they have very good players who are extremely well disciplined. That meant we needed to be organised and we needed to have an understanding of when and how we could hurt them. From there you then need to have the belief and ability to carry it through.”
In the end we’re pleased not only with the result but with the manner of the victory ...
“In the end we’re pleased not only with the result but with the manner of the victory,” he continued. “We were asked questions, we were faced with the challenge of going into extra time and we didn’t wilt. It’s something which doesn’t phase us.
“They got a bit of momentum when they scored from what I thought was one of their best attacks. Once they were level I knew we were going to have to answer some questions because they suddenly looked dangerous.
“The pleasing thing is the players regrouped and we worked hard to get back on top. That showed us that the character is in that dressing room, and that’s important to know. It was there on Saturday and, on reflection, I don’t think anyone would have argued if we’d taken the minimum of a point against Swindon, if not all three.
“In this game we carried on playing at our tempo and we looked quite comfortable at 1-0 up. We got through them again with a bit of really good forward play and had Reggie [Lambe] finished off his one-against-one it would have been a different game for us.
“We didn’t get that second goal so we ended up being set a test and a challenge. The players stood up to it and they got their rewards.”
And on the club making it past a team from a higher division yet again in this competition, he said: “Fleetwood are a good team. They’ve got good dynamics and they will hurt teams with their pace and movement.
“They came into the game off the back of a very good away win and we needed to be ready for the confidence that brings. We showed that we were and we caused them some problems. Uwe [Rosler] is a very hard working manager who puts a lot of time into making sure players understand their roles and responsibilities, but so do I.
“We all knew about Kyle [Dempsey] of course. He’s a good player and I’ve got a lot of time for him. You could say he was one of the catalysts who kept this football club in the division because of the 11 goals he scored.
“He had that no fear approach where he would go out and perform and drag people with him. He’s a leader by example. He’s not the most vocal but he’s got a great engine. The desire and belief is unbelievable and he was going to make sure that this football club didn’t go in the wrong direction. Other players can grab hold of those characteristics and they spread.
“We had some players making their first starts for us this season and they showed they want more. We were encouraged by Richie Bennett’s performance. I think it was a big game for the lad because he had a taste of it on Saturday and you can tell he’s relishing it.
“He’s enjoying it, he’s embedded himself into the changing room ... and he’s picked up a nickname which he doesn’t like, which is always good.
“Shaun Miller has been chomping at the bit as well. There was an air of frustration from him on Saturday but the type of person he is, he doesn’t come banging on my door looking for a confrontation. He just keeps ramming the balls in the back of the net in training as a reminder of what he can do. He played his part tonight, as did all of the strikers, and even though we’ve got small numbers we know we have options when we need them.”
And on the welcome appearance of Tom Parkes, who left the pitch with what appeared to be an ankle injury on Saturday afternoon, he said: “Everything was done over the weekend to get movement back into his ankle. Dolly has worked miracles again but ultimately it’s down to the player. I think that shows what we’ve invested in with Tom Parkes.
“You’d probably say the size of his ankle and the bruising it had, some players would look down and give it a ‘no’ and say they might need an extra couple of days. He knows he’s come to a new and this is a challenge for him.
“He’s not going to let his position in the team go because of a little bit of discomfort. You ask the player whether they can give you a performance which is worthy of the shirt. His answer was ‘yes’ when I asked that question and that was good enough for me.”
“Shamal George is away with England and that was something which was pencilled in and agreed with Liverpool when we signed him,” he explained. “If any player gets the opportunity to go and train with the England team, you don’t give it up lightly.
“He’ll enjoy that, and it all helps with the good characters we have in our dressing room. Tom Miller’s performance tonight was typical of the characteristics we have in there. There’s an understanding that we’re a small squad but we do need everybody.
“We haven’t just got 11 players and the rest of them aren’t important – every single professional within the football club has a role to play in the first team squad. The expectation is that when they’re called upon they give me everything they’ve got, and I haven’t been let down.”
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