After horrendous weather in the UK made even the UniBol pitch a tricky prospect at the weekend, Ian Evatt’s men can forget all about pristine playing surfaces for the time being as they look to resurrect their campaign in League Two.
Victory against Stevenage lifted them into 13th spot but the aim before a long trip to Roots Hall this Saturday is to have climbed into the top half of the table.
And in order to do that they will have to earn a result at Mansfield, a pitch with notoriously poor drainage, not always conducive to free-flowing football.
Nigel Clough has been praying for rain and “a few softer pitches” as his side looks to further a run of eight games without defeat.
Evatt sees no benefit complaining about the conditions – just so long as the game goes ahead as planned, at the third time of asking.
“It is going to be a difficult surface but then again our surface on Saturday was tough and we started first half playing some superb football,” he told The Bolton News.
“There will be challenges with pitches in the back end of the season. Groundsmen put hard work in, I have no doubts, but the issue this season is that with the way last season was curtailed and the fact groundsmen were being furloughed in the summer, the pitches were not prepared properly. They ended up racing to get things ready and we’re now seeing the wear and tear because of that.
“We have to adapt and overcome, go to Mansfield and do things our way, and hopefully that is enough to get a result.”
Since an injection of quality to the squad on deadline day, Evatt feels the mood around Wanderers has picked up. But the cold, hard reality is that a poor start to the season has given the team a huge uphill task to get involved in the play-off picture, let alone the automatic places that they were expected to inhabit.
Evatt has dialled down his own calls for a promotion push but does not hide the fact that standards and expectations are increasing.
Bolton will have MJ Williams in the squad after his red card against Stevenage was overturned by the FA and Kieran Lee will be involved after self-isolating.
“The players are seeing better players come into the building,” he said. “And my spirits have been lifted knowing I’ve got better players to select from and choose from.
“In turn, results over the last couple of weeks have picked up. That is not coincidence, just because we’ve got more options and better players available to us, but the challenge is now to really kick on because I’ve said many times, I still feel there’s an opportunity.
“I’ve said this to the players today, we were just doing a simple passing drill and they were just a yard off it and a little bit sloppy and I came down on them like a tonne of bricks because we can’t afford off days anymore. We’ve lost that liberty by being poor in the early part of the season and every game now matters, so we can’t have an off day.
“We’ve got to go to war, make sure we perform at our best levels every day in training and every game we play because we’ve not been afforded time and we’ve got to hit the ground running and make sure it happens now.
“As soon as I said that, the players nodded their heads, they all understood, and then all of a sudden training was fantastic and people really showed me what they can do. But it’s just amazing that what the manager raising his voice can do. I would prefer that it didn’t get to that stage or that they led it themselves and demanded excellence from each other.
“We’ve got some big characters in the group that the spirit in the camp has improved 10 fold in the last week or two, so we’re heading in the right direction but we’ve got lots and lots of work to do.”