Manager Keith Curle gave us his reaction to the New Year’s Day away defeat at Mansfield shortly after full time on Monday afternoon.
“For the first goal, we’ve ended up playing their lad in - and I was looking on as that situation unfolded in disbelief,” he said. “For the second, it was a harmless looping ball into the box and nobody took control of the situation. That caused havoc because we decided not to deal with it.
“Two mistakes and we found ourselves two goals down at what is a difficult place to come anyway. The third goal came because their desire to get into the box wasn’t met by our desire to defend.
“One of the frustrating things for us was that we had the best chance of the game just before they got their first goal. We’d talked about getting Tom Miller in on the back stick before kick off, and it was a great chance when it came.”
“I thought we got on the front foot in the second half and we got the goal which brought us back into the game,” he continued. “We had other very good opportunities to make things happen, but we didn’t follow them through.
“That was disappointing because at 2-1 we looked like the team in the ascendency. The really good opportunity came when we had a header from Sam Cosgrove which hit the post, and when it came back out you expected us to put the rebound away.
“We didn’t manage that and the next thing we find is that we’re 3-1 down. The errors we’re making are basic, and the things we should be doing to clear our lines are bread and butter things for footballers who have aspirations to be playing the game at the top of this division.
“We haven’t been played through and we haven’t rolled over, but we’ve gifted a good team two goals. You can’t give any team in this division a two-goal start, because goals change games and mentalities.”
When asked how we stop the silly mistakes from happening, he said: “We need to change the personnel inside that dressing room. There isn’t enough of the qualities which give you players who make the right decisions at the right times collectively.
“That’s nothing personal, they’re good professionals, but I need to improve the balance inside the changing room. To do that it will need changes, but we aren’t a club that has a lot of money.
“That means I’m going to have to try to change some of the skillsets we have by being as creative as I possibly can be with what we’ve got. It’s purely a professional requirement because, as I say, the balance and numbers aren’t quite right at the moment.
“We do have to keep it in mind that we’re missing key players like Luke Joyce, Kelvin Etuhu, Jason Kennedy and Nicky Adams, and these are all players who have good characteristics that we need. They’re players who consistently make good decisions, and we need more of that kind of thing.
“Listen, the players and staff are hurting because we have aspirations to go higher, and we’re letting ourselves down at key stages at the moment. That has to change.”
“That means I have a job to do because I need to make us even more competitive,” he added. “That isn’t me issuing a threat, I simply know that the dynamics need to change because we want to get better results.
“What you find is that gifted players can play well for a couple of games, and good players will consistently make good decisions. That’s why good players have longer careers at the top.
“What we have at the moment are areas I like, and other areas where things haven’t quite worked out. There are people who aren’t getting game time, even though we’re down to the bare bones, and that’s why we need to move things around and find different dynamics.
“It’s well documented that the football club will make money available for me, if it’s there, and it’s evident that we need more bodies with different attributes to help us to get to where we want to be.
“It won’t be a difficult conversation about all of this at the end of this week because everybody who sits round the table wants the same thing. We want to see this club improve and get better results.”
“Within that, I’m the manager, and if things aren’t going well questions have to be asked,” he said. “What I won’t do is hide away, because it’s my job to answer them. If we’re winning games, the players get praise, and rightly so.
“If we aren’t winning games, my job is to look at the reasons why, and I take full responsibility for that. That’s why we have to identify those players who can give more, and other areas where I need to be more creative.”
On a first league start of the season for striker Sam Cosgrove, as his current short-term contract came to an end, he commented: “I thought he did very well. He took his opportunity, and it was a great header from him which hit the post in the second half.
“He’s a young player who has been on a development programme and he’s taken a little bit of time to settle and adjust. We’re looking for a physical presence up front and for somebody who can create chances and be a focal point for others. He’s giving direct competition to Richie Bennett, and that’s good.”
On the absence of midfielder Kelvin Etuhu, he explained: “He’ll be getting a scan this week because he took a knock on his ankle in the game against Coventry. He has an air boot on for protection because he’s finding it hard to walk at the moment.
“We’re hoping he’ll be back and available sooner rather than later because, along with Luke Joyce, he’s the kind of player who makes us stronger as a unit.”