Manager Keith Curle gave us his reaction to the away draw at Swindon shortly after full time on Saturday afternoon.
“I thought we dealt with a lot of the threats they had,” he said. “They had a lot of balls into the box but that was because of the shape we wanted to play. It was a day where defences came out on top for both teams.
“Overall we’re pleased because if you come away from an away game with a clean sheet it tells you that your organisation was good. I don’t think Jack Bonham was tested too many times, other than from a couple of shots you would expect him to save. Apart from that he did everything that was needed of him.”
“The main point I’ve raised in the dressing room after full time is that we have to be better when we enter the final third,” he told us. “We need to better at anticipating what might happen, and we need to be braver to make sure we’re gambling on it.
“We also need to be more reliable in the individual jobs we have in terms of supporting the forward play. There were some good situations for us, so we need to be more creative in our use of the ball.
“That might mean we keep the ball for a little bit longer rather than frustrating tendency of needing to get rid of it too quickly. There were too many occasions today where we gave it away through looking for an intricate pass rather than working better positions and bringing other players into the equation.
“If you do that you start to dominate the important areas and things start to happen for you. It was just that added ingredient of quality in our attacking play that was lacking. Whether that came from choices made, technique, thought process – there were a number of situations where we could and should have been much better.
“Picking the right options in an attacking sense can be the difference between scoring and a move breaking down, so it’s important that the players do it right more than they get things wrong.”
“The pleasing element of the game is that the players adapted well to the formation they were asked to play,” he commented. “Changes to shape and personnel can affect some people, but they took it in their stride and I thought they did ok.
“We went with the wing backs to give us width, but I can’t remember too many times when either Danny Grainger or James Brown were given the opportunity to get past their full backs and cause an overload.
“The other factor with the team selection was that I felt we had to change to the focal point of the team. I wanted Ashley Nadesan and Hallam Hope to cause them problems with their pace. We didn’t really give them enough to chase down the channels and with better technique and delivery they could have been utilised more.
“There was enough possession for us to have done more of that, but there were good signs within the game and we were extremely competitive, which I know our fans enjoyed. It wasn’t a game for us to go gung ho, in my opinion, but the team shape was there for us to try to dominate the ball as much as possible.
“Being honest I don’t think we did enough to win the game, but we competed and we made sure we deserved the point we got.”
With the gap to the play-off places at a teasing four points going into the final four weeks of the campaign, he said: “There will still be twists and turns and we’re still in there fighting. There’s a fantastic focus in the changing room and my job now is to limit the distractions we face and keep the focus on the job we have to do.
“We have always tried to win every game we play in and that won’t change as we go into these last four fixtures. The lads are still demanding improvement from each other as we go forward and that’s a good environment to have.
“If there was any hint of them giving up on anything they wouldn’t be in that changing room. If I thought they didn’t have the character or the professional pride, or the willingness to represent us properly, I’d be worried.
“I’m not worried.”
On the first half substitution of Hallam Hope, he told us: “He felt a twinge in his hamstring, but he’s done the right thing and he’s highlighted it straight away.
“The instructions we give to the lads is not to try to play through these things, because if you do that you tend to make it worse. Hopefully he came off at the right time and he’ll be fine sooner rather than later.
“With the other injured and suspended lads, we’ll have Mike Jones back and available next week, but it might be touch and go with Gary Liddle.
“He had a calf strain which caused him problems in the last game, and he’s one of those players who will tell you if he isn’t fit. He told me early in the week that he wouldn’t be available for this game and that allowed us to plan accordingly.
“If things go well we might even have Kelvin Etuhu and Tom Miller, because they’re pencilled in to be training on grass this week. With these lads coming back it gives us an even more competitive squad, and we’re going to have a few of the younger lads from the academy stepping up to train with us as well.
“It’s an important stage of the season individually and collectively for the football club.”
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