Manager Keith Curle gave us his reaction to the Checkatrade Trophy home game with Leicester City U21s shortly after full time on Tuesday night.
“I liked the second half because it was more about what we’re trying to do,” he said. “We had balls going into the box but we just didn’t get the run of the ball in the final third. Some of the deliveries were good and we had personnel getting in there, which was also good.
“The way we approached the game after the break was reminiscent of the tempo we want to play our football at. Unfortunately they were able to capitalise on poor decision making in the first half which came about from us playing in the wrong areas. It was a cheap goal to give away.
“We started the game slowly and you’re going to get that when you have players who haven’t been featuring on a regular basis. They had a nervousness about them because they were desperate to grasp the opportunity. Sometimes you can get caught up in the emotion that comes with that and it stops you from playing your natural game, and from doing things the way we want to do them as a unit.
“As I say, I thought we penned them back in the second half and with better finishing it could have been completely different for us. There was one in the second half where it was a long ball out to Danny Grainger and he volleyed it into the box. It was a good bit of play and it would have taken some beating as goal of the night if Shaun Miller had got on the end of it.”
“Richie [Bennett] missed his chance at the end and he has to learn from it and make sure he keeps going,” he commented. “You have to keep putting yourself in there and the goals will come. I once played with a goal scorer called Steve Bull who missed a heck of a lot of chances.
“However, every time he missed he had the mental strength to stand up and tell everyone that the next chance he got was going in. Something we’re working on with Richie is that mental strength. We know he can’t wait to hit the back of the net so that miss will be playing on his mind right now. He’s got to get over that and make sure his next chance goes in.”
On the end result, he told us: “I don’t see it as a shock result. It’s a competition where you’re going to come up against unknown quantities and I thought they looked sharper when they kicked off.
“That changed as the game went on and we started to play it in more of a League Two style, which caused them some problems. I said before, those who haven’t been starting for us had a nervous air about them and that affected the way they played.
“They wanted to impress and that ended up hampering their individual games. What you find is that if you’re trying to impress by doing the wrong things you don’t get any fluidity in your play.
“The changing room is disappointed at the moment because they’ve lost a game of football. None of us enjoy losing but we do have positives to take from it with the way we asked questions in the second half.
“Obviously as a group we all want to win at home and if I could pick and choose the games we won I can tell you that every single one of them would be here at Brunton Park. Unfortunately we don’t have the luxury of being able to do that.
“We all know this is an incentive based competition and the more games you win the more money there is to be had. It’s the same on a Saturday, because we want to play free-flowing football that gets us results.”
With a crowd of just over one thousand in the stadium to see the game, the clubs third lowest gate ever, he said: “It’s important that the players and I don’t get caught up in the politics surrounding the competition.
“These games are an opportunity to go out and represent the club, so that’s what we’ll do. Obviously we’d prefer more fans to come, but they have their reasons. That won’t change the fact that we have a job to do and a game of football to play.”
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