United boss Keith Curle gave us his reaction to the home victory over Chesterfield shortly after full time on Saturday evening.
“It wasn’t the entertaining, free-flowing spectacle that we desired, but sometimes you need to tough it out and get the win to help you to get the momentum going again,” he said. “I think we can still do some of the ugly side of the game better, but if we’d taken our opportunities when they arose it could have been a more comfortable afternoon.
“You have to remember that Chesterfield are fighting for their lives and they flooded the midfield areas to stifle the game. We needed to get the ball out of there as quickly as we could to combat that.
“Because of the selections we made we had four centre backs playing, and that means you aren’t going to get the fluidity of passing through the lines as much as you would like. From that you need to make sure you’re putting the ball into good areas and working off it.”
“The clean sheet is one that we’ll take,” he added. “I have to say that on the day we had the fortune you need, with the officials making the right decision with the offside. The lad was interfering with Jack Bonham’s line of vision, and it was good communication between the referee and the linesman.
“The way we got the decision is a situation we work on in training. If we get first contact, we clear the area and try to leave their players isolated in there. The lad stepped over the ball and it interfered with Jack Bonham’s line of sight.
“Obviously we had to wait for the flag to go up, but I spoke to the fourth official and he told me that there was constant communication between the officials. That was good work from them.”
“This was always going to be a game about not wanting to make mistakes within a nervous environment,” he commented. “You find that a lot of teams prefer to play away from home at this stage of the season because there’s less pressure placed on them.
“When you’re at home the expectancy is there, and the anxiety can sometimes come from the crowd and onto the pitch. Suddenly the simplest things seem the hardest things to do. The message this week has been for everybody to do the simple things well and to take pride in that. We can still do better, but we’ll keep working on it.
“As an example, I thought we defended too deep on too many occasions, but that will happen when you don’t get the ball into good areas when you have it. If those balls are loose it takes away the ability to squeeze their formation as much as you want to.”
Speaking more about the decision to go with four centre backs, he said: “They’re players with good experience, but you know that if you make that choice you lose some of the artistry you’d get from the full back areas.
“What you gain is a solid foundation to build off and the level of aggression was there with a desire to get to every ball first. Some of our positional play was loose, because central defenders get used to having another defender on their outside shoulder. But overall they got their clean sheet, so they take credit for that.
“Jack [Bonham] played his part because he was willing to come and get the ball as and when needed. He felt he could have done better on Tuesday at Notts County with certain things, but he’s learning on the job.
“He’s here to develop himself but he’s got a great attitude to work and he’s getting better and better every week, which is pleasing.”
And on the first goal of the game, which sent United on their way, he said: “We did a finishing session on Friday and Kelvin [Etuhu] was absolutely shocking. It shows that the players are taking on board informationm because one of the things we worked on was making sure we work the keeper from balls that land on the edge of the box.
“Goals come from shots that are on target. The controlled technique of the shot from Kelvin tells us he can step up to the plate. It was a goal that came at the right time and it was good that it was something we’d all worked on.
“He was disappointed to have to come off and he hasn’t been assessed yet as to the extent of the injury. Hopefully it’ll be a short period of time that he’ll be out with him having come off the pitch as a precaution. It was good for us to have Mike Jones to replace him because he adds a different dimension again.”
“The other thing is that it’s nice to get a goal from a second phase of a set piece when the ball is bouncing around inside the box,” he told us. “We’ve had a few of those against us like that and it’s a reminder that you earn your share of good fortune in the opposition’s area.
“It was a good introduction for Ashley Nadesan. He has a turn of pace, he uses his body well, and he catches people out. There’s good confidence about him and I’ve enjoyed working with him.
“It was also a good reintroduction for Mark Ellis. I thought both of those players did very well. There are still certain qualities lacking from within the squad, with the injuries we have, but we’ve shown that we can find a way.”
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