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MANAGER: Some of our first half passages of play were excellent

Keith Curle with his reaction to the Notts County home game

21 October 2017

Manager Keith Curle gave us his reaction to the home draw with Notts County shortly after full time on Saturday afternoon.

“The pleasing thing is that the home win is definitely coming,” he said. “There were some excellent passages of play from us in the first half. We had good movement off the ball and we looked a threat.

“With the chances for Reggie Lambe and Tom Miller, had they gone in it could have been a different story. Having said that, we played through them in the first half with the ball on the ground at a good tempo, and with a patient build-up, and I thought we caused them some good problems.

“Defensively we nullified the big centre forwards and by playing from the back we were able to pull them towards us and play through them. We needed to do that because we knew we couldn’t play them at their game.

“It was the first time we’d zone marked and the players and I thought we did it well. Man-for-man they were bigger in height than we were in almost every area of the pitch, and that means you have to find a way to do things in a different way.”

“When we did go long to counter their change in formation we had Hallam Hope making a nuisance of himself, and then somebody there to help him out and land on the second balls. The positive we can all take from it is that they couldn’t get near us with the way we rotated the play.

“The negative is that we didn’t finish them off with the chances we had. I don’t think there’d have been any arguments if we’d gone into half time two or three goals up. Their keeper had made two great saves and we created some other good chances as well.”

“We probably didn’t get the ebb and flow to our attacks in the second half and that’s why we made the substitutions,” he explained. “They’d started to play a little bit deeper and there wasn’t the space we’d had between the lines to get our players on the ball as much as we’d enjoyed before the break.

“They’d tried to press us in midfield before the break and we gave them a chasing with the way we pulled them about. That’s why they changed their tactics - out of necessity - and they pulled men back to close that route off.

“We countered that by putting big Richie Bennett and Steven Rigg on. Arguably you could say that we didn’t get enough crosses into the box for them to feed off, but we kept going and we wanted to play forward.

“What I will say is that we aren’t quite getting goals at times when it would kill teams off. Ultimately you get what you deserve in this game and it shows that we have to work even harder.

“The disappointment in the changing room is because it’s a group that got used to winning last season. We aren’t victims, and we don’t feel sorry for ourselves, and we know we aren’t too far away. We’ll make it happen again.

“We’ve just played against two teams who are right up there and the feeling is that we could have both of them. The platform is there and when we do go on that run we’ll be very difficult to deal with.

“You don’t have to be a football genius to work out that if our results at home had been better we’d be further up the table. It has to be our aim to get the consistency levels which will take us up the table.”

On the goal conceded, he told us: “I was disappointed with it because it came when we’d vacated the middle of the park. We got ourselves locked in on one side of the pitch with all eyes on getting forward, and that allowed them to get forward momentum when they won possession.

“It was a good bit of play from them, but we allowed ourselves to get stretched. Even having said that there were a lot of pleasing aspects from what was another competitive performance. It’s always good to see the work done on the training ground come to fruition and if we can maintain the level of performance and consistency we’ll be picking up wins home and away.”

And when talking about United’s goal scorer Hallam Hope, who bagged his fifth of the season in the first half, he told us: “Hallam still isn’t right. He’s had an illness which knocked him a few weeks ago and he isn’t quite there energy wise.

“In my mind I wanted to give him 60 minutes where he could run the life out of them and force them onto the back foot. He’s another who is chomping at the bit because he wants to be out there and doing well.

“Richie Bennett is the same. He’s missed out through suspension and he’s come back in with some great touches and a willingness to get involved. It was a great strike from him when he got a yard of space and knowing him it’ll be one of those that goes in and sets him off on a run of goals.”

With the wait for the second home win of the season heading into the next game, he said: “I don’t think the home run we’re on is harming confidence. You can tell that from the first half performance, because we were on it from the first whistle.

“It’s an annoyance and an irritation that we aren’t winning at home, but we know it will change if we keep doing what we’re doing. We are light in numbers because of the injuries and suspensions but the pleasing thing is that we’re still putting square pegs in square holes, even with Tom Miller at left back. He likes to defend and he’s been doing it well.

“Every manager has concerns over injuries and suspensions when they come along. However, you have to face the challenges and our players understand that if they do get an opportunity they have to step up and take it. The players are doing that, and I thought the support we got today was excellent. They stayed behind to clap the team off and they stayed with us even though they know things aren’t going our way.”

And on the inclusion of second-year scholar Aidan Hutchinson, who turned 18 last month, he said: “The youth team were out on a team building day in Keswick, but I spoke to him and told him that I wanted him to be in the match day 18. I apologised for ruining his bonding day but you could tell he was delighted.

“He’s one of our head apprentices and he’s one I go to if things need to be done. He’s a character I like, he has good appreciation and very good respect levels. He’s a good competitor who likes a tackle and he’s a good, natural defender. He still has things to work on within his game, but he has attributes that stand up for me in the way he conducts himself.”

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

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