Keith Curle with his reaction to the Cheltenham away gameManager Keith Curle gave us his reaction to the Cheltenham away defeat shortly after full time on Tuesday evening.
“It’s a very difficult playing surface and they are more equipped for playing on a dump of a pitch like it than what we are,” he said. “If you look at Gary Johnson and the career he’s had, he’s very quickly had to change his playing philosophy because of the state of the pitch.
“He likes his teams to play football but he’s had to bring people in who can get it forward, get after it and feed off the mistakes or bobbles which come along. As a collective they were more attuned to the conditions. There weren’t a lot of chances in the game and physically I thought they dealt with everything we tried to put forward.
“I don’t think we were aggressive enough and we didn’t create enough opportunities out of the scraps we created. Both teams were bereft of any real quality and it was purely a game of attrition. Cheltenham are used to doing that on here and at the moment they’re a team who need to get results.”
“The surface dictates that you have to play in a way which can be quite foreign, because it means you can’t look for passes or play your way round the pitch,” he said. “You have to bang it and get after it and hope that something falls your way.
“With the changes we made to the starting line up we looked at the conditions and we felt that we needed a physical presence and a focal point which we could then support and work off. We were hoping Jamie Proctor could strike up a bit of a relationship with George Waring, particularly if he was taking a bit of a battering. We hoped it would be about him getting onto the second balls.
“I don’t think we went big enough or long enough in the first half and I don’t think our centre forwards played high enough up the pitch to get involved in the races for those second balls. If you have a look at Cheltenham’s style of play you can see they’re used to playing it. They play higher up the pitch and they look to make the kind of contacts we didn’t manage to do. You’d have to say that their players played the conditions better than ours.
“I didn’t think there was anything in the game in the first half and you’re looking for that one bit of quality to make a difference. We weren’t able to come up with the answers, but that wasn’t for the want of trying.
“We understood the challenge but sometimes it’s difficult for a manager when you’re telling the players not to try to control it and not to get it down and pass it. You’re basically telling them not to play football because the pitch doesn’t suit it. Being honest, professional football shouldn’t be played on a surface like that.”
“I’ve got a changing room of very disappointed players in there because they know they’ve been beaten by the conditions,” he concluded. “They know they haven’t done enough to win the game or to avoid getting beat. We didn’t create enough opportunities so we do have lessons to learn.
“We’ll analyse it, as we always do, and to a degree we can say that the challenge in this game was to deal with the conditions and to go up against a team who are used to dealing with it. We gave the players the information they needed and there was still nothing in the game apart from a deflection which got a lucky ricochet and ended up in the back of our net.
“As I say, we’ll look at it and we’ll make sure we address the issues which come out of it. We’ve conceded a late goal and, as we spoke about at the weekend, we don’t like conceding any goals at any time.
“What we need to do now is come together, stay together and keep the belief that we’ve got in ourselves because we’re still a good team.”