Curle reveals his 'gameplan' to negate Lincoln's touchline antics at Sincil Bank

Keith Curle and opposite number Danny Cowley gave the fourth official a busy afternoon at Sincil Bank. Picture: Kirsty Edmonds
Keith Curle and opposite number Danny Cowley gave the fourth official a busy afternoon at Sincil Bank. Picture: Kirsty Edmonds

Cobblers boss Keith Curle praised the performance of referee Michael Salisbury and revealed he went into Saturday's game against Lincoln City with a 'gameplan' to negate the home team's 'intimidatory' tactics on the touchline.

Imps boss Danny Cowley was constantly in the fourth official's ear during the game but Curle was having none of it as he also made his presence felt in the technical area, an attempt to show that his team would not be 'intimidated' at a packed-out Sincil Bank.

There was plenty for Cowley to complain about too with Harry Anderson seeing red in the first-half for a bad tackle on David Buchanan before Lincoln had three penalty shouts waved away in injury-time.

But the game ended level as Aaron Pierre cancelled out Bruno Andrade's opener.

"It was good refereeing because he made sure he stayed firm," said Curle. "This can be an intimidating place to referee and it's probably the hardest myself and my staff have had to work in the technical area.

"We had a mindset and a gameplan that, every time they got up and started remonstrating at the fourth official, we would go up and remonstrate exactly the same.

"It's not what we like doing but we thought we're not going to let the fourth official get intimidated and I thought he did very well.

"There was good communication and he kept talking to us, telling us both to get back. It's something you have to do when you come here because you can't give them any advantage.

"I think I spoke more to the fourth official today than my missus in the last two weeks!"

Home players, supporters and coaches were incensed by one decision in particular: an apparent handball against John-Joe O'Toole in the penalty box in stoppage-time.

"It was ball to hand," added Curle. "JJ's gone across the line of the ball trying to block it as the lad's attempted a cross. His hand isn't in an unnatural position.

"There was a full house of people here that would have claimed a penalty but I think they claimed throw-ins, goal-kicks, corners - they appealed for absolutely everything vehemently.

"It's one of the things you have to deal with when you come here and I thought our lads stood up to the challenge very well. I think some of their players could have stood up more which would have made the referee's job easier.

"But it was good professionalism from the lads who got booked early doors, David Buchanan and Charlie Goode, because they were on a yellow card and they had to be 100 per cent for any challenge."