Manager Keith Curle gave us his reaction to the away victory at Forest Green Rovers shortly after full time on Saturday afternoon.

“On the balance of play and chances I thought it was the correct result on the day,” he said. “I thought we were solid defensively and the clean sheet was merited, which is pleasing.

“A massive element to the performance was that we told the players not to get sucked in to how Forest Green wanted to play. They’re a good possession team and you can tell that Mark Cooper, who is a young manager, is bringing an ideology and philosophy into this club.

“It will take a little bit of time, but the more he sticks to his beliefs, and the more his players adapt to it, the more of a force they will be. I enjoy watching them play football and I like seeing their style of play.

“What I thought we did well today was to make sure that we didn’t get sucked into being dictated to by them. We needed to make sure they didn’t find their rhythm because they’re an extremely good side when they do. We had our own focus on what we wanted to do and the direction in our play was very good.”

“Arguably you could say that the game could have been out of sight in the first half,” he added. “That was down to the application of the players and their desire to win it for us. They understood the instructions they’d been given and I thought we were a constant threat.

“In the end Forest Green changed their shape a couple of times and they used a number of different formations. Within our shape we were still able to cause them problems, at the same time as limiting their attacking threat.

“We didn’t allow ourselves to panic when they did have the ball and that gave us the upper hand mentally.”

“The important thing for the changing room was to make sure we built on what we did against Gillingham on Tuesday,” he commented. “As a group and a unit we needed the result on Tuesday night. Today, it was me who needed the result.

“I needed to see that the team could pick up from where they’d left off. I put big demands on myself, and on these players, and when things aren’t going right there won’t be anybody more upset, angry, disillusioned or annoyed than me.

“That’s because of the demands I have for everybody. We’re continually looking to improve and the willingness from the players to achieve that is first class. What we want now is to get the rewards for the hard work which goes on behind the scenes.”

On the headed Richie Bennett goal, which won United the game, he said: “It was a great delivery from Danny Grainger and a controlled header from Richie. He got up early and guided the ball in.

“I thought we created a number of chances in the first half which were worthy of goals. What you tend to see in this game is that if you get an abundance of chances, and only score once, you find that you struggle for chances in your next game and score two or three.

“We didn’t really speak about the missed chances at half time because as far as I’m concerned what’s gone has gone. The instructions, funnily enough, weren’t for the strikers, because I felt I needed to remind our midfield that I didn’t want us to get caught up in their approach.

“I wanted us to be forward thinking, playing though lines and breaking off their defenders. I thought we did all of that exceptionally well. Jamie Devitt, Reggie Lambe and Mike Jones caused them all kinds of problems.”

Speaking about his decision to stick with the same starting eleven that had brought success in the FA Cup earlier in the week, he commented: “It wasn’t an easy decision at all, and I was actually going to change some things.

“Sometimes it’s good to have a three or four-hour journey down the road to give you time to weigh up the options. You then have to back your own judgement, based on the information you have available from the medical and strength and conditioning following the previous game.

“We’re coming into a busy period now so the easy thing to do is just keep playing the same players. What we have here is a competitive squad full of individuals who are more than worthy of selection.

“The other decision I made was to go with an extra outfield player on the bench. People will ask if that was a gamble, but every decision you make is a gamble. If they go in your favour, or even if they go against you, hindsight is always a fantastic tool.”

Having revealed that midfielder Jason Kennedy will be missing for approximately 12-months on Friday, we asked how much of a blow that was for the player and for the club.

“The lad has got a fantastic mental attitude,” he told us. “He’s disappointed, grumpy and angry, but ultimately he’s determined to get through this. There’s an excellent support network at the club that he can lean on and I think the statement Neil Dalton put together has highlighted that he needs his privacy, and the time and respect to get on with the challenge he now faces.

“He’s accepted that what has happened has happened, and he’s going to meet it head on.”

And on the 315 United fans who made the journey to the New Lawn, he said: “When I walked out of the tunnel I had a look to see where our fans were, and I was amazed and astonished when I saw that the full length of the left-hand side was all our supporters.

“That tells you we’re going in the right direction. They’ve come all this way at this time of year to support their football club. That’s true support. Let me tell you, it’s valued, and not only by me but by the chairman and the stakeholders at the club.

“At the end of the day, without them there is no football club.”
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