Manager Keith Curle gave us his reaction to the away draw at Chesterfield on Saturday.
“It was a disappointing end result,” he said. “We went a goal down in the first half and that came because we didn’t get the flow in our play right and we didn’t get the quality in our passages of passing play when we did have the ball.
“We had to change it for the second half and we told the players that we needed to get into wide areas much quicker. They took that on board and we got ourselves in front. That was off the back of them carrying out the instructions they’d been given.
“That shows me that there’s good character in there because we were worthy of the lead. Later in the second half we invited pressure because we couldn’t retain possession well enough when we had the ball in their defensive areas. Each player has roles and responsibilities and it’s so important that they carry them out for the full 90 minutes.”
“In the end you would probably say on chances created it was a fair result,” he continued. “Jack Bonham made two or three great saves. He was there when he was needed and the team can take it as another learning curve.
“I was disappointed with their first goal. I think Jack saw it late and it gave a team fighting for its life the impetus and something to defend. We showed good character and determination to come back from being behind.
“We knew we weren’t causing enough problems before the break, so we adopted a different style of attack and we deservedly got ourselves in front. I’d looked at it before half time and I thought the right thing to do was to take Tom [Miller] out of it to give us a natural balance on the left-hand side.
“It was actually touch and go as to who it was I took off at half time because Danny [Grainger] had missed a couple of games through injury and suspension. Tom Miller had stepped up and played well in his absence, but I knew I had a decision to make.”
On the goals which put United ahead in the second half, he said: “Danny attacked the corner well. It was an excellent goal. We knew if we could force set pieces then we’d be able to expose a few weaknesses. It was pleasing to see Danny get the room he needed and then it was a case of him getting it on target from what was a good delivery.
“I was delighted to see Richie [Bennett] get his goal and get himself off the mark. Everyone celebrated with him because we all know he needed it. We thought it would be a tap-in or a ricochet when it came but, in the end, it was a screamer that buried itself in the bottom corner.
“I was then very disappointed with the amount of chances we allowed them to have and we became stretched personnel wise in terms of putting square pegs in square holes to stop their supply line.
“They had some very good chances, but we would have wanted to see more game management, particularly when we had the ball and when we had the opportunity to get into their half and stop them from playing.
“They’re a club with a new manager and they’re fighting for their lives. They threw caution to the wind and sent men forward and we lacked the quality in our play to keep the ball when we needed to break out. That was the disappointing aspect from the day because it’s something we talk about and practice a lot.
“We knew we needed to make a positive change but what was needed was another midfielder who was able to stretch the game across that area, but we didn’t have the availability of the right personnel to do that for us. As I say, we were slack with our possession and we invited balls into the box.”
And on the manner of the late equaliser, he commented: “Steven Rigg is disappointed because the ball bounced off him needlessly. But, having said that, if you give the ball away on half way there’s still a long way for it to go before it ends up in the back of the net.
“For ten minutes or so after their goal we needed to get them facing their goal, but players can develop a mentality when they sit back and defend with their lives. The positive from it is that we didn’t lose, but we do need to change these draws into victories and that’s something we won’t hide away from.
To counter the balls into our box I decided to get Tom Parkes out there. I wanted another bit of physicality and height because we could see they had gone gung-ho and were throwing everything forward. They were outnumbering us at the back and we needed to counter that.
“We train for success, but you can always look at any goal and say that it’s stoppable at some point. With more quality and quickness of thought in the final third we could have kept the ball in their half for longer to stop them from being able to put those deliveries in.
“It’s about game management and understanding how important your job is in your area of the pitch. Sometimes that can be as simple as protecting the ball to help to calm things down.”
Click HERE to watch an interview with Keith Curle on iFollow United now.