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'Toughest game of our run so far' - Evatt fires Colchester warning to Wanderers

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Nat Lofthouse
Nat Lofthouse

It may be a bookies’ banker on paper – but Ian Evatt has warned Wanderers to take nothing for granted when they meet out-of-sorts Colchester United on Friday.

No team in the country can boast a better unbeaten streak than Bolton right now but players got a timely reminder from their manager yesterday of what will be expected at the UniBol.

Colchester have a new man in charge in ex-Crystal Palace and West Ham defender Hayden Mullins and arrive with no wins in their last seven outings.

“I’ve said to the players this morning I’m under no illusions that this is going to be the toughest game of our run so far,” said Evatt, “I think that for a number of reasons - one, everyone expects us to win, there’s a different kind of pressure. Number two, Colchester are actually playing a lot better than the results suggest. They’ve got some good attacking players, good attacking weapons and they can counter-attack fast, so we have to make sure we’re reliable in possession and we limit transitions.

“We have to give them the respect they deserve. They are fighting for their lives and they have some good players who were in the play-offs last year. They are not a bad team.

“Yes, they have not had good results of late but everyone comes here and raises their game, lifts their game, especially now we’ve got even more of a target on our back with how we’re performing.

“Players need to get their heads around that and make sure they perform to the levels that I expect. If they do that, we’ve got a great opportunity to win the game. Unless they give them the respect they deserve, we could get hurt, like we did against Walsall, where we took a punch on the chin and we had to come out swinging second half.

“Hopefully, we are not going to have to do that again and we can manage the game from start to finish.” The appointment of Mullins to replace Wayne Brown after just five weeks was a surprise to Evatt – but with the relegation race also getting tighter he is also aware there could be a reaction from the opponents’ dressing room.

“It’s obviously strange timing but I think with the results that they have had that gap seems to be smaller and smaller, week on week,” Evatt said. “Normally when you have a change of manager, you have that initial impact, a bit like Barrow have, really.

“When (Mike) Jolley left Barrow, Rob Kelly took over and I think they won four of their next five or something like that.

“You do get that initial burst and then it’s about maintaining it, but I’m guessing the Colchester chairman wants that initial reaction to get them enough points to keep them safe in this division.”


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