Manager Keith Curle gave us his reaction to the draw with Cambridge United shortly after full time on Saturday afternoon.
“On the balance of play and chances, and with the dominance we had with the ball, it’s a game we came out of very positively,” he said. “Other than their goal they haven’t really tested Jack Bonham at all.
“We had some really good chances and I thought their keeper did very well. He showed a good level of experience and he pulled off some very good goal line saves. There are still areas where we need to improve, particularly when it comes to the quality of our decisions in the final third, but I have to say it was a committed performance and we can’t fault that.”
Having spoken briefly to the players following the full-time whistle, he said: “I’ve told the lads ‘well done’ and quickly left to come and do the press because the effort, commitment, desire and application were all there.
“They know they played well enough to win the game, so they don’t need me harping on at them. What we do now is dust off and go again. Yes, everyone will feel frustrated in that dressing room because they want to win games, but they’ll also know they’re showing everyone that they are very committed to what we’re trying to do.
“There are distractions to deal with, because there’s talk around the club about contracts, managers, who will stay, who is going, is the next manager watching from the stand ... it’s been nice to see that none of them have been turned by any of that and they’ve become a very focused group. They’re all playing for the shirt and the only down side from this performance is that we feel it was worth three points.”
On the change of formation, and a return to action for captain Danny Grainger, he told us: “We played with a narrow three in midfield and that gave licence for Jamie Devitt and Luke Joyce to get advanced and into the box. It also meant I thought we’d get a lot of opportunities to get the ball out to wide areas.
“I felt that was where we would be able to use Danny’s left foot to help us get forward and cause problems in the box. That’s nothing against Tom Parkes because he’s been doing really well. Tom will be disappointed, angry, but I’ll deal with that on Monday. That’s part of my job.
“When you’re undefeated in six games it makes it harder to change a back four that has been quite resolute, but I thought the decision was the right one. It shows again how competitive our squad is and it reminds everybody that they have to be ready to step up as and when I need them.”
“I thought Luke, Jamie and Mike did very well,” he continued. “You can arguably say that none of those lads are a Jason Kennedy type player, it just isn’t their natural game, and it was the type of afternoon that was crying out for that type of player.
“There were so many balls bouncing around the box and there are so many times that Jason arrives in those crucial areas at exactly the right time. The other thing we needed was a bit of quality in the wide areas and that’s where we were crying out for Nicky Adams.
“When you know a quality ball is coming in from a player like that you get more adventurous inside the box and you take more risks. You then tend to score more goals because of that.”
The goal which put United ahead just after the half time break was strike number eight for Richie Bennett, a player who is rapidly becoming a crowd favourite.
“It was good movement from Richie for his goal,” Curle acknowledged. “I’ve always said that we potentially have a very good player in Richie Bennett. We have to remember that he only joined us a week before the season started.
“His willingness to work and learn has got him to where he is now. He’s had to take a lot on board, but the fundamentals are starting to come through and the lad can score goals. It will be a continued progression for Richie because he’s just taken a huge step up in standard.
“He’s adjusting to life as a professional and if he carries on like this I have no doubt he’ll be worthy of continuing to go up the divisions. He’s enjoying himself. He’s getting into good areas and he’s being productive.
“I thought Mark Ellis was a real threat from set pieces as well. He got on the end of a lot of deliveries. Things didn’t quite go our way inside the box, but the pleasing thing is we had people in there and we were trying to make things happen.”
Having got the lead the dominance deserved, the Blues were quickly pegged back as they allowed Cambridge to get forward with real threat for the only time in the game.
“It was a ball into the box and the frustrating thing is that it was their only real chance,” he commented. “Jack Bonham hasn’t had anything else to do. He had a couple of crosses to deal with, but he did very well with those.
“I don’t think he could do anything with the goal. Jabo [Ibehre] won the header on the back stick and their lad has put it in. I spoke to Jabo after the game and you can tell he liked coming back and seeing everybody. I actually told him that I thought he should have stayed and had another year with me.”
On the return of midfielder Jack Egan to the team sheet, he explained: “We needed some bodies. Darren Edmondson has been down to watch him playing at Clitheroe and he reported back that he’s been doing very well.
“He adapted to the challenge down there and was head and shoulders above that league. This is an opportunity for him to come back in and it shows that if the younger players are good enough, I will include them.”
His final word was for the fans.
“I know there’s an air of anxiety and anticipation, but they got behind us and you could tell they were doing their bit,” he said. “If you wear a Carlisle United shirt you’ll get the backing of your supporters if you give it everything you’ve got.
“I thought they were excellent. They showed their appreciation at the end of the game and I think that’s because they know what we’re striving for. For them to stand and applaud the effort they’d seen means a lot to the players.
“It’s very easy at this stage of the season to stand and boo if the game isn’t going your way. They didn’t do that. They got behind us and I thought that was fantastic.”
Click HERE to watch an interview with Keith Curle on iFollow United now.