Manager Keith Curle gave us his reaction to the Fleetwood Town Checkatrade Trophy game shortly after full time on Wednesday evening.
“We’re disappointed to go out of the competition,” he said. “We were disappointed with the first half performance, but I think they only had two shots and scored two goals. We had three or four opportunities and I don’t even think we tested the goalkeeper. That is obviously the biggest disappointment for us.
“The second half was better from us. The tempo was better and we got some good balls into the box, even though we only got one goal. I thought we had some good opportunities and on another day there were goals to be had, both from set-pieces and open play.”
“Obviously there was an opportunity to earn football fortune by getting through and going on a bit of a cup run, and that has also now gone astray,” he added. “With this competition you don’t know where it leads to. As we saw last season, there are supporters up and down the country who will get involved in the latter stages, but we’re not in a position to bypass the early rounds and go straight to that.
“We know there’s controversy around the competition, but for us it’s an opportunity for players to go out and perform. The competitive edge is there from the football departments, simply because it’s games that are played at a competition level. However, I’ve looked at some of the attendances and it’s clear that something needs to be addressed.
“As a player I’ve played in games where we’ve had under 1,000 people in the ground and you can hear every single comment, crisp packets opening and people drinking from their flasks, and things like that.
“It’s not the atmosphere players want to play in, but that’s the mental challenge you then have to deal with. We got to grips with it better in the second half.”
“In the first half I thought we got caught between when to play and when to go more direct,” he explained. “We were getting the rewards from going direct with Sam Cosgrove up front. I thought he had one of his best games for us and he won a lot of headers.
“We just didn’t have that understanding in our play in terms of when to play and when to go long. It was a difficult evening as we tried to play through a team who had packed the defence and filled the holes in midfield. We had to bypass them, but we didn’t pick that up quickly enough on the pitch.
“They got their deflected goal and that gave them something to hang on to. As I say, I thought we created some good opportunities, but we didn’t manage to make the keeper work. We had good delivery from set pieces and from out wide and the ball bounced around inside the box a number of times.
“On another day you get the tap-ins and a comfortable lead. Arguably you’d say we had good dominance in the second half and periods in the first half where we found their weaknesses, but we perhaps didn’t have players fully in tune with what was required of them.
“That’s something else that can happen and particularly when you’ve made a number of changes. It took us a while to get the flow and continuity and, when it did come, we didn’t quite find the ruthless streak inside their penalty area.
“Selection wise we had the opportunity to give some players some game time, and also to protect other players who have played a lot of games. The bread and butter is the league, and we need to make sure we’ve got those players available for selection on Saturday.”
Click HERE to watch an interview with Keith Curle on iFollow United now.