Skip to main content Skip to site footer
Club News

MANAGER: You could see it was going to come down to one moment of clinical finishing

Keith Curle with reaction to the Grimsby away win

19 November 2017

Manager Keith Curle gave us his reaction to the away victory at Blundell Park shortly after full-time on Saturday evening.

"You could sum it up by saying we came, we scored and now we’re going to leave,” he said. “This is a really difficult place to come because you can see there’s a resolve and determination in their team to start getting results.

“I know their manager will be working hard to get the maximum out of his players and we saw that in some of their play today, particularly in the first half. On chances in the first half it was probably 6-5 to us, and it was a very close encounter in the second half.

“Our keeper earned his money because he made a couple of fantastic saves. Overall we dealt admirably with what they had because they bring good dynamics and they’d shuffled the pack as well, to try to cause a few surprises.

“We adapted to that very quickly and you could see that everybody wanted to play their part in, first of all, keeping a clean sheet, and then going all-out to get the win.”

“I thought we soaked up their pressure in the second half and we looked dangerous when we got forward,” he continued. “There are still things we can work on because some of our retention of the ball needs to be better, particularly when we’re looking to break out of our own half.

“Having said that, we played the game on the front-foot because we wanted to get forward as much as possible. To balance that we looked organised defensively and there was a good understanding of what was needed to be done to deal with the threats they had.”

A particular pat on the back went to keeper Jack Bonham who made some vital saves – one of which came when he somehow got across to claw a goal-bound Danny Collins header from beneath the bar.

“It was a game winning save when their lad got free to head the ball from a corner,” Curle commented. “It’s always precarious at 0-0 but he did his job admirably. For the other shots they had he showed good positioning and very good hands.

“He’s growing in stature, but I still think there’s more to come from him. His confidence will be growing and that’s because he’s getting valuable game time and he’s using it well. When we need him he’s producing saves, punches or catches and he’s playing his part in keeping the ball out of our net.”

And the good performance from the keeper was just one part of what became another solid defensive display.

“Both teams had chances in the first half, and we didn’t have it all our own way, but I thought we controlled them after the break and we protected our final third really well,” he told us. “Clint [Hill] will get the headlines for scoring but the back four stood up to the challenges and showed good unity and discipline.

“Mike Jones and Luke Joyce put in a solid performance in front of them and we had Kelvin [Etuhu] on the left flank with a defensive mentality to stop their creative wide player from playing.

“We then had Reggie Lambe getting into good pockets and causing them problems and we had everyone, from back to front, defending as a unit. We created chances when we got our game going and we looked a threat in dangerous areas, so overall it was a good performance.”

Speaking more about the selection of Kelvin Etuhu in a wide left role, he joked: “Kelvin has been working tirelessly on his crossing with his left foot in training!

“In all seriousness it was a tactical move because we knew that their right-sided player was potentially a bottle of fizz and a match winner. It was one of those where we said – welcome to Kelvin Etuhu, because you are not going to get an afternoon of doing what you want with him in front of you.

“I thought he took on board what we needed from him and he snuffed out their threat really well. You could see it was going to be one moment of clinical finishing from either side which was going to win the game.”

With the team having dealt with the threats posed by Grimsby, it was important to then go on and get the goal which would turn a draw into a valuable win.

“You could feel there was a bit of negativity around their fans today so our job was to stay in the game and keep them quiet,” he commented. “We wanted to nullify their flair players then put the ball in good areas. Once we scored the goal we changed the shape. I sent Jamie Devitt on because I thought they were landing on too many second balls in the midfield areas.

“We changed it again with Hallam Hope coming off, and Jamie coming over to the left wing once Kelvin Etuhu ran out of steam, which shows the flexibility we’ve got. The mindset of the players was to get the win and keep a clean sheet and it’s pleasing that that type of message is coming from within the changing room.

“Our goal was a demonstration of our creativity because you had the right-sided centre back crossing the ball for the left-sided centre back to score. It’s not something you’d expect, but it’s an example of the freedom of expression we allow when we’re in forward areas.

“We ask the players to make good decisions and to know when doing something different is the right thing to do. If we make the wrong decisions it can become a situation when you see us get dismantled in our shape, but one thing I know is that our players can handle a football.

“We’ll enjoy the win and I think it was important that we got back-to-back wins because I think we’re one of the teams that hasn’t done that enough in the league this season. If you want to be in the top half of the table, you need to be doing it consistently.”

“The best thing you can say to player after a game is ‘well done’ because it means they’ve done their job,” he concluded. “Collectively it was a massive pat on the back to the group, but we very quickly then change to thinking about the challenge of facing Luton on Tuesday.

“That’s a game to look forward to, but it’s also a different type of challenge because of the way they’re playing. We go there feeling confident because there’s a real sense of belief in what we’re doing at the moment.” 

Click HERE to watch an interview with Keith Curle on iFollow United now.   

Click HERE to see a clip from this interview on our YouTube channel. Follow the same link for more FREE content right from the heart of the club.

Advertisement block