United boss Keith Curle gave us his reaction to the well-earned away victory at Colchester shortly after full time on Saturday evening.
“It was a victory we all felt we deserved because of the way we applied ourselves,” he told us. “We set about denying them the ability to play they wanted to play but we always had one eye on causing them problems in their defensive third.
“I thought our shape and discipline was excellent and that gave us a platform to build from. Some of our defending was excellent and I told the players at half time that clean sheets tend to win you games.
“We knew going into the game that Colchester have good flair, pace and attacking movement, but we matched them like-for-like and we stopped them from using those attributes.”
“We’re picking up momentum on the road and I know the supporters are desperate for the home form to match it,” he continued. “That’s exactly the same with everybody who works at the club. There’s a resilience about us on our travels and, as I’ve just said to the players, clean sheets win you games.
“I thought our shape, discipline and desire were all in place and tactically we denied them space and we earned the right to play. Colchester have strength, pace and power in abundance and in the end a team that likes to play football had to resort to lumping the ball into the box.
“We won the majority of first contact and the scraps that followed. We went on to put in a performance worthy of the three points. This division tends to be a first goal division. We got it and it gave us something to defend. We do want to entertain when we play at home but, as I’ve said, we possibly need another approach in our armoury for those games where we can’t be as expansive as we want to be.”
On the goal from Jamie Devitt which won the game, he told us: “He’s been waiting a long time for that goal and it’s a bit of icing on the cake for the lad. As soon as he scored you could see it wasn’t only a relief for him.
“All the players were delighted and that’s because they appreciate the ability he has. They enjoyed his goal with him and that could give him the confidence he needs inside the final third.
“It was a great run, a good find and decent anticipation. We told him when we sent him on that we wanted him to be involved with the ball, but to also make sure that he was always a threat.
“Like I say, the goal means a lot to him and it’s well deserved. He’s kept his head even though he’s been frustrated with the fact he hasn’t been playing as much as he wants to. The only thing that’s been missing from his performances has been an end product, be that scoring goals or creating them, but we know he has the attitude and ability to make it happen.
“Half time was the right time to bring him on because I felt we’d got on top in the game and we’d earned the right to play. Kelvin had given us a physical presence and some of his closing down had stopped them from getting forward. However, I wanted to add Jamie to the mixture of Joyce, Jones, Lambe and Adams because I knew that would give us an added edge. He’s a player who can get in behind when you least expect it and that’s how he got his goal.
“I thought we could use what he brings to the game in midfield and we gained confidence as the game went on. He was a big part of that. His reward for making sure he wants to make an impact was the finish, and I thought his positioning and movement were class.
“Another thing to be highlighted is the way he continued to work hard after he’d put us in front. He wasn’t content with sitting on his laurels and admiring his work, and the players appreciated that as well.”
Not to be forgotten was an excellent performance from Jack Bonham between the sticks, including a stunning double save just after the second half restart, which gave the team the platform they needed to then go on and win the game.
“Jack was different class,” he told us. “The saves he made after half time were top quality. We asked questions of him a few weeks ago but he’s come back into the team and he’s answered them.
“He knows there’s more work for him to do but the signs are good. He’s played his part in keeping the clean sheet which ultimately helped us to win the game. He should be pleased with his contribution.
“The pleasing thing is that we had stand-out performances all over the pitch. The mentality of every member of our team was right and that’s what helped to see them through. It’s pleasing as a coach to watch the things you’ve talked about transfer onto the pitch, and that’s what we got from this game.”
“At the heart of the defence we have Gary Liddle and Clint Hill forging a partnership,” he commented. “I know Gary has had criticism from some areas but he’s been a player who hasn’t been able to foster a partnership within the team because of the changes of personnel we’ve had to make.
“He’s been given this opportunity because of the absence of Tom Parkes and that’s the competitive edge we have here. He wants to keep it now he has it and he also knows for that to be the case he has to earn it.
“He’s playing beside Clint [Hill] and I think everyone is learning the importance of doing the simple things well from him. He has good habits and if others pick them up from him it will start to breed success. He can affect other people because he’s a natural competitor and they respect how he conducts himself on and off the pitch, and on the training pitch.
“At the moment we have a number of players who are typifying what we’re about. We’ve got a small group in numbers but it’s massive in heart and willingness. Hallam Hope is another example because he hadn’t trained for three days. He’s been in bed with flu.
“He wanted to be involved so we let him travel down to the hotel on his own. He was put in quarantine by our physio, in a single room, and he ate his food away from the other players. That meant we were able to use him for 15 minutes and he ran himself into the ground for us once he got onto the pitch.”
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