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MANAGER: As an advert I thought it was a great game to watch

Manager Keith Curle on the Mansfield draw

2 September 2017

Manager Keith Curle gave us his thoughts on today’s draw with Mansfield Town shortly after the full-time whistle had blown.

“I think both teams can walk away from the stadium today feeling they’ve earned a point,” he said. “Their play was mainly about knocking at the door and they kept trying to come through the middle of the defence.

“I think we have to be pleased with the end result. The dynamics of the contest were cut and thrust and you could see that both teams wanted to get forward and score goals. That meant the game became very open but it was a good challenge for the players after the defeat at Lincoln.

“It was a good game where we could pick things up again against a team that’s probably trying to buy their way out of the division. In our case we’re trying to build success so that we can push on again.

“We tried to play our game and I thought we caused them some real problems at times. We dealt with a big, physical, quick and aggressive approach and I thought Mark Ellis led by example for us defensively. He was superb.”

“That battering ram approach was met with a centre half pairing who were up to the challenge,” he continued. “I thought Liddle and Ellis complemented each other really well.

“As an advert I thought it was a great game to watch. It was end-to-end and on another day those shots or headers which hit the woodwork would have gone in.

“The lads are disappointed because they felt there was a victory there for us. There was a resolve and resilience about our defending and we created chances. That’s why they’ll feel slightly down that they didn’t quite see it over the line.”

On the goal which gave United a first half lead, he said: “He was very calm and composed and on another day he could have possibly had a few more strikes on goal as well.

“The pleasing thing is that you can tell everybody in the stadium wants him to score. That’s good for him to know he has that backing from the fans. We’re pleased for him because he’s getting his goals. It was a great touch and finish and he’ll take a lot from having done that.

“That’s two in two games for him and we want him to carry that form on. It was very pleasing to get him off the mark in the league and I have to be honest and say that I’ve never worried about us scoring goals.

“We’ve just got to wait for Richie Bennett and Shaun Miller now, and it’ll come for them. Shaun’s first touch was the shot which hit the post. The goalkeeper didn’t see it and didn’t even move. If he did that again it would hit the post and go in and we’d be talking about three points.”

“There’s still more to come from Richie Bennett because he’s taken massive steps in a short space of time from where he came from,” he explained. “He’s in a settling in period within our professional environment and he’s still learning his trade. Once his goals start coming the confidence will really start to rise from that.

“What we don’t have is the rugged centre forward type who can make the opposition’s ball his ball, but we’re working with some good skill sets with the strikers who are here. We probably could have turned their back line more when we had the ball in good areas but that is something else which will come if we keep doing things properly.”

With some contentious decision made along the way by the officials the manager took a pragmatic approach when quizzed about some of the key moments in the game.

“I thought the penalty was a harsh decision,” he said. “I’m not sure the challenge warranted it, but Jack did well with the penalty. He’s made some other good saves in the first half but apart from the punch for the equaliser I don’t think he’s had too much to do in the second half.

“We’re probably comparing the punch for their goal with the one we conceded against Cambridge where he’s tried to go through bodies and catch it. We spoke to him about making sure he gets a good punch if the situation dictates it, but because of the pace of the ball he wasn’t able to get the distance it needed.

“He’s saved the penalty really well and he’s made some other really good saves, so he can pleased with his day.”

“We obviously felt there should have been a sending off,” he confirmed. “I didn’t see exactly what happened beforehand with the challenge or when the lads first went to ground. Their lad then kicked out at Mark [Ellis] and in my mind that’s a straight red.

“I don’t know what interpretation the referee had, or what he saw, but it was disappointing to see both players get booked. I have to say, if you get booked these days for being kicked then there’s a few players who I played against who need some serious retrospective bookings!

“I shook the referee’s hand at full time and I know it’s always going to be a difficult game for officials not to get involved with the pantomime that comes with their technical area. If he’s seen an infringement by Mark which nobody else saw then I’m sure he’s made his decision to book him based on that.”

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

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