Curle prepared for van Veen threat and says Scunthorpe fixture is not about revenge
Gaining revenge for their heavy defeat in the reverse fixture is not on Keith Curle's mind when the Cobblers entertain Scunthorpe United this evening.
Town's 3-0 loss at Glanford Park on October 12 left them 18th in Sky Bet League Two but proved a turning point in their season. Since then, they've won nine of 16 league games and only two teams in the division - Swindon and Plymouth - have taken more than their 31 points.
"It's not about revenge, it's a game of football," said Curle. "Make no mistake about it, we knew and I knew and after a couple of days and a couple of meetings, the players also knew that we didn't hit the standards required at Scunthorpe.
"That's the honesty which we've got in the group because they took on-board the criticism and they identified the areas that they knew themselves they needed to improve.
"As a group, they've gone on from that fixture and the pleasing thing is we learned from the defeat, which is important because the players found out they can't just turn up and not perform.
"They have now consistently turned up and performed over a period of time and that's been excellent."
Cobblers had a rare free Saturday at the weekend after playing Derby in the FA Cup on Friday, but there was no time to rest for Curle, who was busy scouting tonight's opposition.
He added: "Some people might think you have time to relax and chill out on Saturday after having a game on Friday but that's not the case.
"I was at Scunthorpe, Colin (West) was at Swindon, Simon (Tracey) and Dan (Watson) were out at games, David Kelly was also at a game so we were still working.
"It was a good opportunity to see Scunthorpe and Crewe and see them up close and personal because you don't get to see them often, especially on a Saturday."
And on what he saw, Curle continued: "They've got good structure with a good manager and a good coaching team.
"They've got players that can hurt you and impact the game in a positive way if you allow them to play how they want to play.
"Because they beat us in the other game, it doesn't mean we give them more attention but we're also not disrespectful. We'll give them the same respect as we do for any opposition team. We know they've got strengths and they've got weaknesses.
"They have a settled format in how they like to play but they make slight adjustments and slight changes as I saw at the weekend and they're not too dissimilar to ourselves because they always have one eye on trying to combat the opposition's strengths."
Cobblers know all about the threat that one man in particular could post this evening in the shape of former striker Kevin van Veen, who has 14 goals this season.
Curle added: "I managed to have a couple of quick words with Kevin on Saturday and obviously he texted me after he scored!
"I like Kevin as a player and I like him as a person. He's got good attributes and he could play higher and probably should be playing higher.
"He's a threat but he's one of a number of threats they have. I also managed Alex Gilliead at Carlisle and he is a very gifted player who can be creative and run past players, so they can be a real threat going forward."