Preparation gamble pays off as Curle reveals the simple half-time team talk that led to Carlisle win

Keith Curle
Keith Curle

Keith Curle has revealed the simple but effective message he delivered to his players during the half-time team talk that inspired Tuesday night's 2-0 victory at Carlisle United.

Cobblers had struggled to get a foothold in the game during a lifeless and goalless first 45 minutes as Carlisle dominated possession without creating any clear-cut chances.

But Curle switched things up at the break, introducing striker Harry Smith for defender Michael Harriman and tweaking the formation from 4-2-3-1 to 3-5-2, and that had the desired affect.

Cobblers hit the the front through Scott Pollock's emphatic finish shortly after half-time and the points were then sealed by Sam Hoskins, who burst into the box and blasted home in the second minute of stoppage-time.

"The half-time team talk was very simple: they wanted to play football, we needed to win the game," said Curle afterwards. "And we found a way to do that.

"The substitutes had an impact but Andy Williams in the first-half was excellent. He worked hard and combined well and then Harry Smith and Vadaine Oliver caused them problems.

"They created the second goal for Sam Hoskins by keeping the ball alive up there and both operating on the same side of the pitch.

"You can talk about missing Alan McCormack, Joe Martin, Ryan Watson because these are integral players that have been sidelined, but we're still competitive."

Curle also revealed that he opted for a slightly unusual approach to Town's 500-mile round trek to Cumbria - their longest trip of the season - as they drove up on the day of the game instead of the previous evening.

"We had to bring that competitive edge and it was a challenge for the players because the preparation was slightly different to what a lot of teams might have done," he added.

"I made the decision not to come overnight and instead the players left at half past seven in the morning, we travelled up in the afternoon and then it was all about the mental preparation - right from the pre-match meal to the video session.

"It was all geared towards the mental approach that we needed."