United manager Keith Curle gave us his reaction to the home draw with Wycombe Wanderers shortly after full time on Tuesday night.
“How many times have we said it, but goals change games,” he commented. “It’s a very deflated changing room tonight because they conceded a goal just before half time and then again just before full time. I don’t mind that they’re feeling it because it shows me they care.
“You have to be disappointed to concede three goals at home because if you’ve scored three you tend to expect to get the win. However, we were up against a good team who were buoyant and confident and they have a style of play which works really well for them.
“They go away knowing they’ve been tested and we have to use this level of play as our benchmark going forward. As we saw last season, sometimes a good run starts with a point and a draw, so we have to make sure that’s what happens this time round.”
“Credit to our players because they went into the game with a plan and they executed it really well,” he continued. “Wycombe have been picking up points away from home but we looked comfortable heading towards half time. Their free kick gave them a little bit of belief and the other goals came from two quality deliveries. The corner right at the end is what can happen when things aren’t going your way.
“From our point of view we take more positives because even when it got back to 2-2 the players kept their belief and we continued to look dangerous. I’m delighted with our goals and credit has to go to Simon Tracey for the set piece which got us our first.
“He’d analysed and dissected their defending shape in those situations and we exploited it. There’s a lot of work goes on behind the scenes on things like set pieces and, if you take Gary Liddle and Clint Hill out of it, we aren’t a physical team. That’s why we need to be clever and show a level of aggression to get first contact in the box, as we did for that goal.”
Speaking more about the way the team exploded into the game and settled the nerves, he said: “We knew we’d need to start by getting on the ball and closing them down and we did that well. Overall we dealt with the big lad up front very well and we kept a very good team which has good movement quiet for long periods.
“The preparation for the game has been spot on yet again and that helps. The chairman has looked after us with pre-match meals and we changed the way we structured our day, because I’m not scared to change things to see if it helps with the mentality of the players as they go into an important game.
“Goals do change how players do things and we fed off our good start and the goal we got. On the flip side you’ll have seen at the start of the second half that we couldn’t get into our flow quickly enough. They pressed us well and they probably had their best spell of the game.
“That came off the back of the goal they got just before the break. We were deservedly two up but it becomes a test and a different type of challenge when that happens to you. The pleasing thing is that there were real signs of what we want to produce because some of our play was very good to watch.”
On other chances created, which could have seen the game go in a different direction, he told us: “We placed an emphasis on playing possession football with direction. We used the ball well in midfield areas and, as I say, we looked like a team which is getting back to where it wants to be.
“Some of the chances we created were good ones and if Nicky [Adams] had buried the one he had in the bottom corner it would have been a different story again. At just one goal behind they had the motivation to keep going at us, but you have to say that they’re a very difficult team to play against.
“If anything, the angle Reggie [Lambe] had for his goal was tighter, but we’re getting people into the right areas and goals will come. There’s accountability in that changing room, but we don’t have a blame culture. That’s excellent because it makes my job a heck of a lot easier when you can sense real disappointment within the group at what’s just happened to them.”
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