Hartlepool manager Keith Curle refused to criticise Ben Killip after error in loss at Stevenage (Martin Rickett/PA)
12 November 2022

Keith Curle gives backing to Ben Killip as error costs Hartlepool at Stevenage

12 November 2022

Hartlepool manager Keith Curle believes Ben Killip has nothing to prove to his team after his howler gifted high-flying Stevenage a 1-0 win in their League Two clash at the Lamex Stadium.

Danny Rose pounced after Killip put the ball down to clear, unaware the striker was behind him, and left the Pools man on the floor to slide home the winner and ensure Pools remain in the relegation zone.

But Curle praised his number one’s mentality, pointing to his ability to keep his side in games this campaign.

“Ben has kept us in a lot of games this season and made some fantastic saves,” said Curle.

“He’s mortified because he’s seen the effort, the commitment, the application, the desire from the players in front of him to protect his goal.

“It’s about Ben, his mentality, how he reacts – he’s got nothing to prove to us – we know he’s a good goalkeeper.”

The north-east side had matched their opponents up to that point and Curle was reflective afterwards, saying chances not taken in the first half could have changed the game.

He added: “You listen to the comments as we’re going down the tunnel after the game, you can hear the comments from their changing room – they snatched and grabbed the three points.

“That’s coming from their players and their changing room. In the first half, we had the two clear-cut chances – take those and it changes the game.

“Credit to the players because the attention to detail and the understanding of what was required caused them problems.”

The hosts did not get going until the second half as they struggled to break down a resolute visiting side.

Manager Steve Evans admitted his troops were not at their best in the middle of the park.

He said: “I think, certainly for the first 45, 50, 60 minutes, it became a bit of a central midfield battle.

“Arguably they had better chances than us and we got too involved in trying to win the battle rather than playing.

“When we made the changes, you could see the difference in the tempo of the team.”

Rose’s winner keeps the Hertfordshire side three points behind leaders Leyton Orient in their surprise promotion charge.

But Evans, who described his side as fortuitous to profit from the keeping error, did not realise what had happened at first.

He said: “I looked up and [Rose] is chopping the keeper – the boys on the bench educated me as to what happened!

“He’s done that for me before, he’s a gifted boy and we love his enthusiasm, we love having him here, and he lifts everyone when he comes in every day.”

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