Curle will make 'brave' calls for the team's benefit after Oliver's half-time substitution

Striker's early withdrawal in FA Cup tie split opinion

Thursday, 6th February 2020, 4:41 pm
Updated Thursday, 6th February 2020, 4:43 pm
Vadaine Oliver challenges for the ball with Derby goalkeeper Kelle Roos and defender Scott Malone. Picture: Pete Norton

Cobblers boss Keith Curle says he's always prepared to make 'brave' decisions for the benefit of the team after withdrawing striker Vadaine Oliver at half-time of Tuesday's FA Cup defeat against Derby County.

Oliver was not as effective at Pride Park as he had been in previous games but nonetheless it was initially thought the move to replace him with Matty Warburton at half-time related to a fitness issue.

But Curle dismissed that notion after Town's 4-2 defeat in the fourth round replay and instead said his decision was a tactical one because Cobblers were 'not winning first contact' against Derby's defence.

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Curle's comments and his decision to hook Oliver caused a bit of a stir on social media but the move undoubtedly had a positive impact with Nicky Adams scoring just two minutes after half-time and Town generally upping their performance levels in the second-half.

Reflecting on the game a few days later, Curle said: "We've got a very competitive changing room and if I think I can make a change and make a difference to the output of the team, then I'm brave enough to make it.

"That's the case whether it's a centre-forward, a goalkeeper or any player on the pitch, if I think I can get more out of somebody else or change the focus or change the dynamics, I'll do it.

"It's not so much me saying nobody's safe but I've got enough options to make a change and after the change on Tuesday we went out, changed our focus and scored a goal.

"Sometimes, if you give one person a rollicking, the other 10 people will react to it."

Despite Town's improvement though, Derby were good value for their 4-2 victory.

"We started the second-half well and if we had kept it at 2-1 for a bit longer, I think we would have got chances and then you never know in the cup," Curle added.

"But you've got to give Derby credit because they can give any team problems at the standard they play at, as they did on the previous Friday when beating Stoke 4-0."