Manager Keith Curle gave us his thoughts on the 2-2 home draw with Crawley shortly after full time on Saturday evening.
Speaking first about being pegged back from a dominant position, he said: “It does feel like we’ve thrown it away a little bit at this moment in time. We were two goals up and we’d scored them at the right times as well.
“One of the pleasing things was that statistically we haven’t started well in the second half of games this season, so it was pleasing to get a scruffy goal over the line. All we needed then was to do our jobs, keep our shape and keep causing them problems.
“I don’t think the ball stuck enough up top and, when we needed quality to get into the final third, we found that it was lacking. We could ask if we created enough good goal scoring opportunities through the 90 minutes, and you would have to say the answer was no.
“Some of crosses came up short and some of the final passes to get us into the final third weren’t as good as they could be. The players are disappointed because they’ve let their lead slip.
“People do say that 2-0 can be a difficult lead to protect, because the next goal is crucial. If you get it the game is over. If they get it, they have a lift, and they come looking for more.”
“There are still a lot of positives to take out of it,” he insisted. “Getting the two-goal lead was good because Crawley are a team who try to move you around. On the flip side I was very disappointed with the two goals conceded from two speculative shots.
“They’ve probably only had three on target all day, so Jack [Bonham] will be disappointed with that.”
“It’s a learning curve for him,” he added. “On recent form you would probably expect him to deal with both of those shots, but we know he’s a lad who is learning on the job.
“It’s how he reacts to this that matters. He has the strength of character and personality to bounce back. His attitude to his profession is exceptional and he knows he won’t be the first keeper to ever make a mistake.”
On the second half substitutions, he explained: “I make my decisions for the betterment of the team. If I deem a situation is worthy of a change then I’ll make it. If I get four thousand people disagreeing with that I’ll face the consequences.
“When substitutions don’t come off, I take the blame, it’s as simple as that. I’ve spoken to the lads at full time and I’ve told them that it’s another game undefeated, and our job now is to win the next one.
“Games are going to keep coming quickly so we have to deal with the disappointment, identify the negatives, and focus on the positives. It’s not all doom and gloom because the gap is still only four points.
“Some of the people behind me were shouting at me and blaming me for the substitutions I made, but I don’t mind that. I’ll take the criticism because when we get the next win at home I’ll be sharing it with everybody.
“The players who came on will be disappointed with the contribution they made, but some of the players who started will be feeling the same way. It’s part and parcel of the game and we all have to dust off and move on to the next opportunity to gain three points.
“When something like this happens, it isn’t about the substitutes, or any individuals, it’s about the squad. We win together, we draw together, we lose together. That doesn’t change. We share the enjoyment as a group, and I deal with the disappointments and criticism so that I can keep the negativity away from the dressing room as much as possible.
“When it comes to making substitutions, they’re done with the knowledge I have on the players who are out there and on those who are available to me. The people behind me in the Paddock have an opinion, but what I do is based on what I know is going on within the group.
“Hindsight is obviously always a good thing, and if I could bottle it that would be excellent. Not everybody is privy to the information I have which leads to some of the decisions I make, but all I would say is back me and trust me.”
“We’re coming to a crucial stage of the season and this is where we need people to stay with us,” he continued. “This can be a frustrating game because just when you think you’ve got something going on, it’s no longer there. What you can’t afford to do is lose your belief.
“I know there’ll be a little bit of despondency around, and that’s not just with the fans. It’s the same in the changing room and in the staff room. People have walked away feeling that it’s two points lost because of the position we had in the game.
“It’s six games undefeated at a crucial stage of the season. I can take the negativity but I want nothing but positivity aimed at the players, because there’s still a job we believe we can do.
“There’s a massive game coming up next Saturday and we need the fans to be positive and behind us. There’ll be highs and lows and peaks and troughs between now and the end of the season and the important thing is that we keep that unity and belief.”
Click HERE to watch an interview with Keith Curle on iFollow United now.