United have kept 15 clean sheets in all competitions so far this season, with seven of those coming from the 13 games we’ve played in 2018, as defensive solidity has also seen the Blues concede just once in their last six home games.
Manager Keith Curle spoke about the importance of the current run of shut-outs as his team continues to climb the table as they work hard to gain a top seven spot.
“It gives you a platform to build off when you have solidity at the back,” he said. “The back four is playing well together, but the pleasing thing is that they know they have to be on top of their game because there are others waiting to step in and get their opportunity.
“Every player knows they have to work to get the shirt, and then earn the right to keep it. It’s no surprise to me that we’re keeping clean sheets at the moment because of the determination in some of the tackles in all areas of the pitch.”
“Other teams won’t look forward to playing against us with the way we’re defending,” he added. “They know we’re competing for everything and we’ve spoken to the players about the importance of winning first contact.
“Every player wants to protect their goal and that comes from the belief that we will get positive results. We saw that again on Saturday.
“We kept their chances down to a minimum in the first half, but I have to say that Jack Bonham’s save in the second half was Championship class. He came out, stayed big, blocked it and showed good hands. That was excellent.
“That’s what you need when the other team does get through, because people know they still have to beat a keeper who is playing well and full of confidence.”
Speaking more about the players waiting in the wings, he said: “Danny Grainger is frustrated but he’s everything you want from a club captain.
“This is the first time he’s been out of the team when he’s been available to play during my time here. He knows he’s a big part of what we do here, and his mentality and professionalism haven’t changed. That shows a level of maturity which you want to see from your captain.”
And on the experience he can draw on across his back four, he commented: “Sometimes it’s good to have the likes of Gary Liddle, Clint Hill, Mark Ellis, Danny Grainger, Tom Miller and Tom Parkes to call on.
“James Brown has gained good experience, and young players like that can draw from what they see and hear around them. I think everyone is looking at Clint because he’s a player who brings a calmness to the approach we take.
“He’s enjoying his football and the environment we’re creating. He looks after himself very well and he spreads positivity amongst the players. I spend a lot of time speaking to him and sometimes it’s good to have that type of experience in the dressing room.”
Click HERE to watch an interview with Keith Curle on iFollow United now.