Bolton Wanderers are aiming to make it six matches unbeaten in League One when they take on Charlton Athletic tomorrow evening.
Wanderers take on the Addicks at the University of Bolton Stadium seeking to consolidate their position in the top half of the table.
Bolton sit just above Charlton in the table as things stand on the same number of points but can extend that to three and do the double over Johnnie Jackson’s men with another win.
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A win would extend the club’s unbeaten run to six games and potentially cut their gap to the top six, should results elsewhere on Tuesday evening go in Bolton’s favour.
Before the game, Wanderers boss Ian Evatt spoke to the press and here’s a transcript of everything he had to say to broadcasters as he also reflected on the aftermath of the Morecambe game, which was temporarily stopped over an allegation of racist abuse being directed towards the Wanderers bench and is being investigated by police, with a man arrested and bailed in connection with the incident.
Is there any update from the weekend’s occurrences?
“As we understand there’s been an arrest made. There’s a police investigation ongoing. Obviously we have taken a great deal of offense by what’s occurred and what’s been said afterwards and Sharon and the board are dealing with it the best way they possibly can. We certainly won’t be letting it lie.”
How much of a distraction has it become?
“We had a conversation this morning with the players. It dosen’t matter whether it’s one comment or a hundred comments. It’s zero tolerance and as a squad and as their manager and leader, if we hear one comment which we feel is over the line and especially racial, we will walk off.
“Simple as that, that’s our policy and that’s been decided by the players, especially the black and ethnic players. We discussed it, we discussed it months ago and that will remain our policy moving forwards.”
You’ve now got a game against Charlton to concentrate on?
“We’re looking forward to it. Believe it or not, we don’t want any of this. We don’t want the sideshows. We want to be a football team that are attractive and pleasing on the eye and entertain our own fans.
“That didn’t happen the way we wanted it on Saturday, but we’ve got a home game now to give us an opportunity to go out there and enjoy our football.”
“No. Everybody is fit, healthy and available. We’ve obviously got the appeal lodged for Ricardo’s red and we’re waiting to hear back off that and there is a panel being brought together today to hear our appeal and look and evidence and make a decision on that.”
You’ve got lots of options?
“Lots of options and lots of games coming up, two very important games this week. Obviously we’ve got Charlton tomorrow who are going well.
“I think they’ve won their last three games and then we’ve got Oxford on Saturday who we’re trying to hunt down for a play-off place, so we’ve got two big games, ones we need to win. We’ll have to look at our options and pick teams accordingly.”
On reflection, from a footballing perspective at the weekend against Morecambe, how do you look back on it?
“Not good enough. Disappointed with our performance. We can’t pick teams on weather forecasts. That becomes really challenging and difficult and we set teams up to play the way we want to play and on the Friday when we’re going through specific set plays or more detailed opposition work, we can’t look at the weather forecast and say we need to pick these players for this day.
“We got there, it was everything that we don’t want. Wind, rain, boggy pitch, it became very challenging to play the way we want to play but even still, I think we could have done better than what we did on the day.”
Some of the players brought in January will be chomping at the bit now?
“Yeah absolutely. They’re all waiting for their chance and opportunity and they’re all training really well. I think they’re all enjoying the environment.
“They saw a lot of bad things on Saturday, but also some good and I must say that our togetherness and the way that we came together at the end and managed to find a way and get a result, our bond and connection with the fans is just something that for all the time I’ve been here, in the face of adversity on Saturday, that real togetherness that we felt from our fans and the players and the staff was magical and in the wrong circumstances, but if we can continue that moving forwards, we’re going to be a very challenging team and a hard team to beat.”
The message from the fans after the Morecambe game praising the grit and determination to get a result in such difficult conditions and circumstances is something that speaks to how well this club has evolved over the past two to three months?
“We obviously found it, and any team, would have found it difficult to play the style of football we want to play in those conditions.
“We can’t start picking teams based on that but in an ideal world we wish we probably could have re-picked the team and gone probably more direct and more physical with more energy, but we can’t do that based on weather forecasts .
“But what I will say is we’ve had conditions like that at Plymouth, at Fleetwood and we got absolutely rolled over and destroyed in many ways. That doesn’t happen anymore. These boys fight, they have grit and determination and good teams always find a way and that could end up being a very important point.”
How potent a mix is having a team willing to fight for one another along with a great fanbase such as at Morecambe?
“I’m only going to comment on what was good on Saturday. I think enough’s been said about what was bad and what was wrong from both sets. But what I will say is the way they supported the team, the way the team came together with 10 men in a moment of real emotion, some young players in that dressing room who have never experienced anything like that before.
“The way they channeled their emotions and channeled their determination into the game and getting something out of it was fantastic and a credit to themselves and you could see from the celebrations what it meant to everybody.”
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Was their any specific reason why Kieran Lee went off at half-time?
“I just think I got stuck in the mud basically! Kieran is a really elegant footballer. He’s a glider and to get the best out of Kieran Lee, we need to be able to play him through the lines, playing expansive attractive football and it just wasn’t a day for that.
“We just needed to roll up our sleeves, win our duels, win our second balls, possibly be more direct than we have been, and we needed to change it and we needed some physicality at the top end of the pitch and that’s why we decided to take Kieran off and put Jon (Dadi Bodvarsson) on.”
Jon seems to be getting more and more into knowing what playing for Bolton Wanderers is all about and seems he was thriving in the horrific conditions?
“It’s probably not horrific for him being from Iceland – I think it was a summer’s day for him! He’s a very talented footballer who has got a fantastic attitude, he gives us a different dynamic to what the others give us.
“It was more a game for himself and Amadou (Bakayoko) than it probably was for Dion (Charles) and Dapo (Afolayan). In the end they found a way to work together and combine together and get us an equalizer which was important. ”
Charlton are a much different team to the one you played at the Valley. Under Johnnie Jackson, they have done very nicely and like Bolton, look like they could have a bit of a say in finishing in the top six?
“They’ll have aspirations, it’s a big club in its own right. There’s many of those in this league now. They’re done great, I know the assistant Jason Euell very well, I played with him and he’s a fantastic guy.
“It’s going to be a challenge, they are powerful, they are quick, they are strong, they’re very good from set plays, they’ve got some attacking threats in the team and we need to make sure we play to our best level and best ability.
“If we do that, I’m confident we can match anybody but we have to channel our own emotions from the weekend into a good performance tomorrow night.”
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.