Manager Keith Curle agreed at his post-match interview on Saturday evening that his team hadn’t made it hard enough for Port Vale on an afternoon when the points were allowed to leave Brunton Park despite early dominance in a frustrating game.
“Merry Christmas Port Vale,” he said. “We joined in the Christmas spirit and gave them three points today. They had three shots, scored two goals and came away with the victory.
“You’ve got to say well done to them, but I’m disappointed because I thought the game was there for us to take.
“We started well enough, we created opportunities and we could have gone in at half time two up, which would have made it a different story. They came, opened their presents and I’m sure it’ll be an enjoyable coach journey home for them.”
“The players have got to understand that today’s performance and result is not acceptable,” he added. “We started well, and I think everybody was thinking it was going to be an entertaining game, but then we stopped playing.
“We stopped doing the things that were causing them problems. Sometimes that comes down to good players continually doing the right things, and that’s what we’ve got to get back to. It’s in the changing room, there is enough in there to turn it around.”
“The first goal is an ugly one to concede,” he agreed. “You don’t need to tell Clint [Hill] that, he knows it’s an error. His mantra is reliable, consistent and dependable, which he has been, and it’s unprecedented, but sometimes everybody needs a kick up the backside. Today has got to be used as that for everybody.
“Whether you’re playing in the Premier League or League Two, the wrong decision is the wrong decision. Good players don’t make the wrong decision that often. We have a dressing room which is hurting in there and they know that type of performance isn’t good enough.
“I put high demands on them, they know that, and we look after them fantastically well as a football club. All we ask is for them to be reliable, consistent and dependable.”
“We know the home form needs to improve,” he agreed. “We need to score goals and we need to get back to being more resilient. There is an air of anticipation when you come back to your home stadium that you’re going to turn teams over.
“There was a reaction after they got their second and we got the goal just after we hit the post, but I don’t think we tested the goalkeeper enough. We didn’t get the ball into the box enough, got behind them enough or put enough quality balls into dangerous areas.
“Those are all areas where we need to demand better from ourselves. The changing room at the minute needs to change. There have got to be better demands put on us, and individually and collectively we need better.
“There are qualities in that changing room, but it comes back to the demands which are put on the players. I take responsibility for that, put it down to me, because that’s what I do. The players know that individually and collectively today’s performance and result is not what we’re after.”
On the formation and team selection, he told us: “We went with width and pace to try and cause them problems in wide areas, but I didn’t think we caused them enough problems.
“It was about getting John O’Sullivan some game time. He’s been chomping at the bit, he’s been performing well in training, but he’ll be slightly disappointed with his output today. That wasn’t just him, collectively our output wasn’t what was expected and wasn’t good enough.
“If we’d been able to get another couple of days training into Danny [Grainger] this week the likelihood is that he would have been available. It was touch and go whether he was available for today, because I’m mindful of the size of the squad I’ve got, and the key personnel we’ve got. I thought he needed more than one day’s training, and I couldn’t afford to be without him for the six or seven games we’ve got coming up in a short space of time.”
And on the absence of keeper Shamal George, he told us: “Shamal has picked up an ankle ligament strain which will see him out for anywhere up to six weeks, although Dolly thinks he could be back sooner than that.
“He’s gone back to Liverpool and we’ll stay in communication with them. Shamal is a goalkeeper who will have a career, we would like him to come back after his injury but. in the meantime, we’re on the lookout for improvement in all departments.
“January is going to be crucial because we need better and we need to improve. I know I need to do a bit of wheeling and dealing and change a few dynamics within the changing room. Whether that’s changing personnel or improving the output from some of the personnel we’ve already got in, we’ll do whatever we need to do.”
It emerged at the press conference that there could be more work to do during the transfer window with worries that midfielder Jason Kennedy could be ruled out for the longer-term.
“Jason Kennedy will be out for the rest of this season and probably the start of next seasonhe revealed. “Him and Nicky Adams are game changers and winners, as well as being good characters.
“Not only that, but they supply for other people and today we didn’t have suppliers or goal scorers, or creativity in our play. We looked a little bit disjointed, but there’s enough in that changing room to score goals.
“It’s all about a reaction on Tuesday night now. We’re disappointed, but it’s all about how the changing room reacts. There’s enough in there to win games of football. The changing room is hurting, we’re missing that little spark at the moment, but it’s coming.”
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