Manager Keith Curle spoke about what he expects to be an end-to-end encounter against Crawley Town on Saturday at his weekly pre-match press conference.
“It’s been a good week of preparation,” he said. “Training has been vibrant, and we’ve recharged the batteries both mentally and physically. There was a lot of travel involved with the trips to Barnet, Yeovil and Exeter, but the players dealt with it.
“We got the rewards from the way we prepared and did things and the changing room is very buoyant because of it. We’re on a good run and we know that if we’d been more ruthless in some of the other games where we dropped points recently we could be in an even better position.
“What we’re finding now is that we’re able to force results again, and that’s been important for us. Through the first half of last season in particular we were getting goals by putting pressure on teams, and we’ve gone back to that. There’s a feeling amongst the group that we can beat any team and that comes from having confidence in what you’re doing.”
On the nerves which can affect performance levels for all teams and players at all levels of the game, at this crucial stage of the season, he said: “As we get to the point where teams have nine or ten games left to play it’s when you need to find momentum.
“We’re definitely a chasing team this season but that puts the pressure on those above us. It’s a different mentality, but sometimes it’s good to be able to look above where you are and have that target to aim at.
“The pressure was ours last season because we were in there and we desperately wanted to stay in there. We went through a six or seven game spell without being able to score, let alone win, so we know how mindsets can change.
“That’s why we clearly define the roles and responsibilities so that everyone is aware of what they need to do to keep us on the front foot. The good thing is that the players have a belief in what they’re doing and they’re getting us the results. It’s certainly an exciting league this season.”
Looking ahead to what we can expect from Crawley Town, he told us: “I think the manager has been through a steep learning curve at the beginning of the season and he’s adjusted really well to the division. They had a slow start but then went on a very good run which brought them a lot of results over a short period of time.
“They’ll be looking for a springboard and an opportunity to get back on another run which will cement their challenge. We think we have a good understanding of how they will play. They’re a side that looks to be open and expansive at home, and they’re slightly more protective away from home.
“They can be a real threat and they have good players with decent pace and dynamics. They get the ball wide and use it well from those positions. Harry [Kewell] will be aware that he’s coming to face a team who are also involved in the chasing pack, so I think it’ll be another encounter between two clubs who respect each other.
“I don’t think it’ll be a free-flowing game, because the pitch isn’t suited to that at the moment, but I do think it will be end-to-end and full of energy.”
And with a ‘buy two games and save £10’ ticket offer running for the Crawley and Cambridge fixtures, he said: “You could tell with how we started the last home game that we wanted to thank the fans for the unity and support they’ve shown, and that included with the snow clearing.
“You can feel the lift the whole club has had from this run of results and we know there’ll be an air of expectation on Saturday. We embrace that. We want people to come here and enjoy their football club, and we want them to help us to get the results we need. You see it every weekend - if we win on a Saturday it changes the mood of the city for the rest of the week.
“Likewise, if we lose, people feel slightly more downbeat. Be in no doubt we want to put on performances that give value for money for our fans and also win us games. If we’re doing that people walk away at full time talking about what they’ve seen on the pitch, and that’s what we want.
“It’s good that we have the ticket offer running because it shows the desire to increase the fervour we’re trying to create. We want to finish the season positively, so if that means giving supporters discounted prices – that’s excellent in my opinion.
“The secret then is for us to give them a performance which will bring them back, because things like this are also about creating fans of the future.”
Click HERE to watch an interview with Keith Curle on iFollow United now.