Keith Curle with reaction to the Accrington away gameManager Keith Curle gave us his reaction to the away draw at Accrington Stanley shortly after full time on Saturday.
“It was a game where there wasn’t a lot of quality in the final third,” he said. “We had the opportunities but it was a typical battling performance by them.
“We looked like we’d go on to be in control when we got our goal but we gave away a cheap free kick, and the lad hit it well and it hit the target. You’re disappointed when it goes in from 35-yards so we’re left with a level of frustration.”
Speaking about the early red card, which reduced the opposition to ten men, he said: “Early red cards seem to happen here when these teams are involved.
“I thought it was a shocking challenge, but being honest I initially thought the kid had slipped into it a little bit. Nicky [Adams] knows he’s going to get close attention, because of the quality he has, and I think both Jimmy Bell and John Coleman saw it is as the referee did because I know they’d have let me know if that hadn’t been the case.
“It’s a very frustrated changing room in there. We thought we’d kick on and we had numbers up there to try to make it happen. We used different formations and systems to try to find a way. In reality there wasn’t the quality or decision making we needed in the final third.
“You get a little bit of anxiety when you have a run like this and that spreads to the terraces. All teams go through it and all you can do is keep working hard and believing in what you’re doing.
“I keep coming back to the fact that the good run we went on before Christmas started with a couple of draws, so we have to look at this as another point gained. This was a game where we kept knocking on the door but you have to give them credit because they defended very well. However, we didn’t give them enough problems and that’s something for us to work on going forward.”
The starting formation brought a return to three at the back, with wing backs patrolling the flanks, and the manager explained the thinking behind that change.
“I thought we were going to be dominant in possession at the back and that we would get a lot of the ball in wider areas,” he commented. “Gary Liddle and Macaulay Gillesphey are players I think can play at higher levels and Michael Raynes was back in there as well, with the good qualities he brings.
“What you can find is that the quality of the playing surface can be a factor because it isn’t like our pitch. They rolled the life out of it and that means the ball doesn’t run as true, and you’re less assured with your touch. You can hesitate for a split second and, if you do that, you find that the picture in front of you changes.
“It probably suited Accrington more than it suited us and the game became a slugging match in both boxes. We have a mindset where we don’t want to get beat and this is a difficult place to come to. The important thing now is that I keep the belief in the players. We take our point from a tough away game and we get ready for the next home game.”
On the first league start of the season for midfielder Joe McKee, he said: “The one thing he hasn’t had is the opportunity because of how well we’ve been playing. He started pre-season very well but he was unlucky that the team went on a fantastic run.
“He then had a situation where the Mike Jones injury coincided with him getting a hamstring injury. The good thing is that he’s back now and he’s been training very well. He has earned the right to get an opportunity.
“It took him a little bit of time to get up to speed but he acquitted himself well and he didn’t look out of place in any way. As I’ve said to the other players, being made available for loan doesn’t mean the door is shut on the rest of their career.”
And the United boss confirmed that he came close to adding to the squad ahead of the Saturday game.
“We were very close to bringing in a new addition for today,” he said. “Something was agreed with a club but they moved the goal posts of the financials involved when we showed our interest.
“They upped the numbers that same afternoon and that took it out of our price bracket. With the money left in my budget I have the opportunity to bring in one player. Ideally I’d like to bring in two or three, but we’re in the bottom tier and it’s a finance game.
“The top divisions are awash with money and they don’t know what to spend it on, but it isn’t like that for us down here. There might still be some wheeling and dealing to do to get the team performing to the levels we need, but that’s where I have to do my job to the best of my ability. The pleasing thing is that I know it will come because we’re not too far away.”
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