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Ian Evatt issues some home truths to players after defeat

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Nat Lofthouse
Nat Lofthouse

Ian Evatt had a heart-to-heart with his ego-bruised Wanderers yesterday as he began to prepare for a last shot at automatic promotion.

Emotions were still running high at the Lostock training ground after a hugely disappointing 2-1 home defeat against Exeter City, which leaves Bolton defending a one-point advantage over Morecambe on the last day of the season.

Evatt said his team were “fearful” in the second half against the Grecians, in which they surrendered a 1-0 lead and a chance to return to League One automatically.

But with one more shot at Crawley this weekend, where a victory would guarantee a top three spot, the Bolton boss was keen to get all the weekend negativity out of the players’ system as quickly as possible.

“I’m going to learn a lot about everybody this week,” he told The Bolton News. “But it shouldn’t be all doom and gloom.

“We’re all disappointed, you guys, the squad, the staff, the board, the fans, but for a long, long time this season it wasn’t looking likely that we’d be promoted and to go to the last game of the season knowing if you win, you’re up, we should still take heart in that and go and do the job.

“I think the players just need honesty. We had an honest conversation because whether we win or lose on Saturday then we have to do it being ourselves and being courageous and brave with and without the ball, like we have since Christmas, really.

“We have to take that into Crawley, let’s go again.”

Evatt did not want to rub salt into wounds on Saturday evening and left the debrief of the Exeter defeat for the following couple of days.

He feels, however, that the players should be able to use the disappointment felt after the final whistle to motivate themselves for the big game in West Sussex this weekend.

“They didn’t need me telling them what was right or wrong right after the game,” he said. “For now they need to really grasp that pain and turn it into emotion for next weekend to go and win the game, and that is as simple as it gets, really.”

Wanderers actually had 11 shots at goal in the second half of the Exeter game but managed to put none of them on target.

Five shots were blocked, six were put wide of goal, but Exeter’s better finishing earned them three points which also gives them a shot of finishing in the play-off positions next weekend.

Evatt admitted that the pressure of the occasion made his players make choices that were out of character during the second half.

“We talk about emotion of games and sometimes that can affect your decision making and our decisions in the second half weren’t good enough,” he said.

“We were not brave enough and that’s what’s disappointing and hurts the most really.

“I can take losing but we should lose on our terms and we didn’t look like my team in the second half.

“We looked like we were fearful, we looked like we were scared to have the ball in tight areas and that’s everything that we’re not.

“We work tirelessly hard on having in tight areas on the training pitch. Second half, we’ve just not done anything we’ve really worked on. We just went a bit off the cuff and tried to hang on and that never helps.”


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