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CLOUGH ON COLCHESTER GAME & PREVIEW BOLTON
19th February 2021 23:35


Build on away draws in next two home games - boss
mansfieldtown.net, Tuesday 16th February 2021

With two successive home games on the horizon, Mansfield Town boss Nigel Clough has challenged his side to build on the two away points picked up over the last week, starting with Wednesday’s clash with Bolton Wanderers.

The Stags welcome the Trotters to One Call Stadium for a 5pm kick-off on Wednesday, a match that has been postponed on two occasions due to inclement weather.

Ahead of the clash, Nigel Clough says Mansfield are ‘not far’ from returning to the level that saw them secure five successive victories in Sky Bet League Two, which preceded the recent draws away at Walsall and Colchester.

“I think we’d have played the first game the first time it was postponed. I think if we left the decision [until later], I think we’d have played then,” he told iFollow Stags.

“We’d have certainly played the night after if Bolton had agreed. But hopefully we’ll get the game on tomorrow night.

“It [Bolton upturn in form] won’t change our approach. They will be a different proposition to what they probably would’ve been a few weeks ago.

read more at https://www.mansfieldtown.net/news/2021/february/gaffer-pre-bwfc/

“That’s why we were probably desperate to play [the original fixture] as we were in such a good run of form. We wanted to play every few days before the interruption.

“We have to try and get that back on track and we’re not far from it at the moment, but Bolton will certainly be a bit more confident than they were a few weeks ago.

“We have [picked up] two good points on the road [in the last two games] and now we need something from these next home two games, starting with Bolton.”

The boss offered his final reflections on Sunday’s 2-2 draw with Colchester, and despite being ultimately disappointed with the result, says there were ‘good things’ on show from his charges.

“It was a good point in some ways [against Colchester], but when you’re ahead twice and concede to a deflection [it is disappointing].

“I thought we were okay because we scored just after 80 minutes and kept them quiet during that five-to-ten-minute period [after the goal].

“Then they break down the left-hand side, get the deflection and they had a couple of opportunities after that.

“We showed some good things in the game and showed glimpses and patches of getting back to where we were.

“It’s coming back slowly, and the quality of goals that we’re scoring is very pleasing. [On Sunday] it was a goal that you see in training and you want to see that taken into matches.”

"It was a relief in some ways [to play after the doubt over the game when we arrived on Sunday], but you want to play on better pitches. The pitches at Walsall and Colchester were difficult. When they are wet, as ours is, at least it's true and not bobbling around. When it's bobbling around it's difficult to create chances."

There was also an injury update on current absentees George Lapslie (hamstring), Oli Sarkic (thigh) and Kellan Gordon (knee).

“We do believe that the players do get into a groove or routine playing Saturday, Tuesday, Saturday, Tuesday. When you stop, no matter how much you do in training, unfortunately you pick up a couple of knocks.

“It is inevitable that you do get injuries but I think the squad is well equipped to deal with it.

“Nothing has changed with George Lapslie - I think it’ll be three or four weeks. It depends on how he heals.

“Oli Sarkic and Kellan Gordon shouldn’t be too long, especially Oli Sarkic.”

iFollow Stags subscribers can watch the manager's interview in full by logging into mansfieldtown.net/ifollow later today.

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Nigel Clough keen to see Mansfield Town back up away draws with successive home wins
chad.co.uk, By Stephen Thirkill, Tuesday 16th February 2021

Stags boss Nigel Clough wants his side to back up their recent away draws with successive home wins.

Mansfield picked up a point each at Walsall and Colchester to end a tough run of four away games on the spin.

Stags now return to the One Call Stadium to finally face Bolton Wanderers on Wednesday, before high-flying Cambridge come to town at the weekend.

“How good the points were at Walsall and Colchester will be decided by how we do in our next two games,” Clough said.

read more at https://www.chad.co.uk/sport/football/nigel-clough-keen-see-mansfield-town-back-away-draws-successive-home-wins-3136523

“We have a chance to back that up now. If we can get a win against Bolton it makes Colchester a good point.

“We are showing glimpses and patches in games where we are playing well, but it's nowhere near where we were before the enforced break.

“The sooner we can get back to that the better. It was inevitable, you can't go that long without playing and just pick it up again.

“We have also played four away games on the spin so we are looking forward to playing at home.”

After seeing the Bolton fixture fall foul of the weather twice, hopes are now high that the game will finally go ahead,

But Clough knows his side will face a different opponent than when the original match was planned.

“We haven't quite got the momentum back that we had before the break and Bolton have picked up a bit, so it will be a different proposition,” added Clough.

“In this league it can be about when you play teams, are they winning or losing games? Do they have injuries or suspensions?

“They will be a much more confident side than they would have been a few weeks ago.

“We certainly hope the game will go ahead. We have not had much rain in the last few days so we are confident the game will go ahead.

“There are a lot of games coming up. The Saturday/Tuesday/Saturday schedule doesn't phase up, hopefully we will get the injured playerss back within that period.

“We hope we can get into the top half and even nearer to the top seven in the coming weeks, that is our aim.”

Stags are expected to be without the injured George Lapslie and Kellan Gordon for Wednesday night’s fixture.

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Bolton Wanderers boss Ian Evatt looks for 'fight' from players at Mansfield
theboltonnews.co.uk, By Marc Iles MarcIles

WANDERERS must head to muddy Mansfield tonight ready to roll up their sleeves and fight, says Ian Evatt, as the League Two promotion chase starts to get serious.

Ordered to replay the rescheduled game at Field Mill less than 72 hours before kick-off at Southend United on Saturday, the Whites face their most daunting double header of the campaign thus far.

But buoyed by the fact yet another red card was overturned yesterday, leaving MJ Williams free to face the Stags, plus the return to training ground of Antoni Sarcevic, Harry Brockbank, Kieran Lee and Dennis Politic, Evatt believes there is a growing feeling in the Bolton camp that they can overcome the odds and revive their play-off hopes.

“It’s us against the world and we’ll take everybody on,” he told The Bolton News.

https://www.theboltonnews.co.uk/sport/19095196.bolton-wanderers-boss-ian-evatt-looks-fight-players-mansfield/

“I have a massive amount of respect for our fans and what they do for this football club, for the board, for the staff and for the players and we are in this together.

“If we feel we are being hard done by - which I think is the case at the moment - then bring it on. We’ll come out fighting and give everything we can.”

After twice seeing the game postponed at late notice, Evatt is keeping his fingers crossed that this game will survive the wind and frost.

He had voiced frustration that the EFL had overruled Bolton’s objection to scheduling the match so close to Saturday’s 500-mile round trip to Southend - but believes his players will use the injustice to fuel their performance tonight.

“The hotel will be very pleased to see us,” he said. “I think we have kept them afloat in lockdown.

“But we’ll go there again, hopefully get the game on, and if we can perform with the right mentality then we can get the right result.

“I haven’t spoken to Nigel (Clough) or anyone from Mansfield through all this. I think Simon (Marland) did briefly when we rejected the opportunity to play the game on the Wednesday but then were told we had to.

“Other than that we’ve had no contact other than the snippets I read in the press, which were obviously aimed at Bolton and me. But we won’t take much notice of it, we’ll go there with the right attitude and try to get a result.”

Wanderers have had reason for complaint in their last two games after Marcus Maddison and then Williams were unjustly sent off, only for the decision to be overturned by the FA a few days later.

But Evatt does not directly blame referees, insisting that some should be given the opportunity to turn professional and improve standards across the board.

“They say in football that things even themselves out over the course of the season, well we’re due a great deal over this last 19 games,” he said.

“But it is part of the game. We haven’t got VAR, human error is part of the game, and we love it.

“Referees have got a really difficult job, especially when you get teams screaming for decisions and surrounding referees. There is a lot of pressure.

“The whole thing falls down, for me, with the fact that referees are not professional. We’re professional as managers and players and there is so much at stake, financially, even at this level. We need professional referees.

“They have to have the best preparation, the best training to give the best decisions on a Saturday and for me that means no more working constantly and then having to referee a game.

“There’s enough money in the game to make them professional and I am sure they would snatch it with both hands. It would only improve the game and maybe that conversation should be started.

“That’s my view, other people might differ.”

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Why Bolton Wanderers boss Ian Evatt had to shout at his players in training
theboltonnews.co.uk, By Marc Iles MarcIles

THE path to success seldom runs smoothly - a thought Wanderers may do well to keep in mind as they negotiate a tricky away double header at Mansfield and Southend in the next few days.

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.

https://www.theboltonnews.co.uk/sport/19095265.bolton-wanderers-boss-ian-evatt-shout-players-training/

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.”

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Bolton Wanderers boss Ian Evatt on 'difficult' Mansfield pitch and lack of contact with Stags
By John McDougall, 16 FEB 2021

Ian Evatt expects Bolton Wanderers to encounter a 'difficult' playing surface at the One Call Stadium when facing Mansfield Town but admits that it will be a common theme towards the business end of the League Two season.

The Trotters travel to Nottinghamshire today to take on the Stags on their own patch.

https://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/sport/football/football-news/bolton-wanderers-mansfield-town-pitch-19852878

It is the third attempt at getting the fixture played, with the previous two being postponed in light of a frozen or waterlogged pitch at the One Call Stadium.

During winter and with games being played in quick succession, pitches further down the divisions can show more signs of wear and teat, despite the best efforts of groundsmen across the country.

Evatt believes this aspect has been exacerbated this season by the way the previous campaign was curtailed and with clubs putting their groundsmen on furlough.

But he wants his side to adapt and overcome to the situation they will encounter this evening as they aim to go four games unbeaten in a row.

He said: “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.

“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."

The match had been originally due to take place yesterday, but was changed to today after Mansfield opted to do so following their match against Colchester United last weekend having to be pushed back 24 hours.

Wanderers wanted the third attempt of the game to take place yesterday as originally planned, but were overruled by the EFL.

Evatt himself has not spoken to Stags boss Nigel Clough and believes the only contact between the two teams of late has been through Trotters secretary Simon Marland when Wanderers rejected the suggestion of playing on Wednesday.

He said: “I haven’t spoken to Nigel or anyone from Mansfield. I think Simon (Marland) did briefly when we rejected the opportunity to play the game on the Wednesday but then were told we had to.

“Other than that we’ve had no contact other than the snippets I read in the press, which were obviously aimed at Bolton and me. But we won’t take much notice of it, we’ll go there with the right attitude and try to get a result.

“It’s us against the world and we’ll take everybody on.

“I have a massive amount of respect for our fans and what they do for this football club, for the board, for the staff and for the players and we’re in this together.

“If we feel we are being hard done by - which I think is the case at the moment - then bring it on. We’ll come out fighting and give everything we can. "

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Ian Evatt 'astonished' as Bolton Wanderers overruled for latest Mansfield Town rearranged game date
The League Two clash has twice been postponed due to an unplayable pitch at the One Call Stadium

manchestereveningnews.co.uk, by John McDougall, Sat 13 FEB 2021

Ian Evatt has been left 'astonished' by the latest time and date for Bolton Wanderers' away game against Mansfield Town after it was pushed back a day.

The clash at the One Call Stadium has been postponed twice owing to weather conditions leaving the pitch unplayable.

The first was due to the pitch being frozen, before the game was called off for a second time around an hour and a half before kick-off a week later after being waterlogged.

The game was rescheduled for a third time and was due to take place at 7pm on Tuesday, February 16.

But the fixture has been pushed back a day and will now kick off at 5pm on Wednesday, February 17.

Wanderers manager Evatt has been left 'astonished' by the most recent turn of events and feels aggrieved that Mansfield were able to choose when the game will take place.

Mansfield had their game against Colchester United this weekend moved from Saturday to Sunday due to a frozen pitch, which is why the Stags opted to move the game against Bolton to Wednesday.

Evatt says Wanderers declined to have the date moved to Wednesday due to the long journey they face this coming weekend when they are on the road against Southend United and has subsequently given them a day less to recover for that game.

But the Bolton boss said the EFL overruled Wanderers in their attempts to have the game against Nigel Clough's side played on Tuesday, as originally planned.

And Evatt is 'astonished' by the game's newest date and kick-off time, and feels the University of Bolton Stadium side have been punished by the decision.

He said: “I find it astonishing that we have two games called off and then they get to choose when we play what day and what time, when we’ve got Southend to travel to on Saturday.

"They’ve got one more day recovery time, we’ve got one less, I don’t really know how that works to be honest, but I’m sure Nigel will be happy with that.

“They asked us about playing Wednesday, we said no, we wanted to play Tuesday because of the journey on Saturday and the EFL overruled us.

"I find it astonishing that we have two games called off on Tuesdays when we’ve travelled all that way because of their unsuitable pitch and yet we get one day recovery time less and a massive long journey because they want to play on Wednesday.

“Because apparently Colchester’s pitch was frozen, they wanted to change that game to Sunday, which in turn they wanted to move ours to Wednesday.

"I just find it astonishing after we’ve been twice, they’ve called it off twice because of their unsuitable pitch and we’re the ones that are being punished. It just doesn’t make any sense.”

Asked if he was confident the latest game would go ahead, Evatt added: “Let’s see. I’m sure they’ll work really hard and everything else, so we’ll see.”

https://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/sport/football/football-news/evatt-bolton-wanderers-mansfield-town-19838038

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Bolton boss Ian Evatt banking on X Factor to make a difference at Mansfield
theboltonnews.co.uk, By Marc Iles MarcIles, Sat 13 Feb 2021

IAN Evatt expects Wanderers’ new-look strike force to ‘mix it up’ at Mansfield.

The Bolton boss was left wanting more from his attack in the 1-0 win against Stevenage on Saturday, where three points should have been secured much earlier in the game.

For the first time Evatt handed starts to his deadline day signings Marcus Maddison and Dapo Afolayan, alongside regular goal-getters Nathan Delfouneso and Eoin Doyle, in what looked on paper an electrifying front four.

The quartet allow the type of flexibility and rotation the Whites have lacked for much of the campaign, but Evatt admits there were some teething problems which he hopes to overcome quickly.

https://www.theboltonnews.co.uk/sport/19092605.bolton-boss-ian-evatt-banking-x-factor-make-difference-mansfield/

“Madds has got that X Factor, there’s no doubt about that,” he told The Bolton News. “With him and Dapo in the mix, if we had fans in stadia then their bums would be off their seats in no time. And that’s the kind of player I want at this football club.

“But we do need to work them into our patterns and what we expect from them. It isn’t a free reign. They have a job to do for the team and they all understand that.

“I think they will get much better as they get fitter with games and hopefully we can see that progress now in the run we’re coming up to.”

Wanderers also have the likes of Shaun Miller, Lloyd Isgrove and Arthur Gnahoua pressing for a starting place at Mansfield, with another long trip to come a few days later at Southend.

That should give Evatt the opportunity to mix and match and while he continues to encourage the expansive passing game he has looked to bed down for much of the campaign, he also feels his players cannot be afraid of going more direct.

“In the 4-2-3-1 we’re playing at the moment the seven, the 10 and the 11 have the license and freedom to rotate position,” he explained. “And that’s great.

“If Dapo, for example, wants to drop inside and get into pockets of space, then that’s where the space should be for the full-backs. Then it becomes a case of picking the right pass.

“We can’t all do that, though. We can’t all drop in and want the ball to feet because the team becomes too predictable and the opposition can squeeze up and compact the game, and that puts pressure on our own defenders.

“Sometimes you need that threat running the other way, in behind. That means the opposition have to drop, the pitch becomes bigger, and then we can start trying to pick people off again. You have to have both sides of the game.”

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When Alex Baptiste believes Bolton can still do the business in League Two
theboltonnews.co.uk, By Marc Iles, Sat 13 Feb 2021

ALEX Baptiste hopes lighter days will mean brighter times at Wanderers.

The experienced defender believes some canny transfer business means Ian Evatt’s side are now well placed to finish the season strongly, and perhaps even revive some of the promotion hopes that were abundant back in the summer.

Saturday’s win against Stevenage was hard-fought, if not the most fluent, but Baptiste feels the team is starting to show it can peak when it really counts.

“I always say as soon as the clocks go forward it’s business time,” he said. “You have to win in March and April, that’s when the big games come.

“That’s when experience helps. We didn’t play that well in the second half but we got the job done and that’s what we need in the games coming up.

“There’s belief we can do it, one million per cent. We’re 13th now and we play Saturday-Tuesday. If we get on a run, who knows what can happen?

“With the people who came in during January we have full confidence we can get on that run, get in the play-offs and higher.

“The confidence is there. It’s seven out of nine points at home now and we have two big away games coming up to get some momentum.”

Baptiste returns to his first professional club on Wednesday night also looking to extend his own run of personal good form.

It is nearly 18 years since he first broke through for the Stags, making his debut against Barnsley in the old Division Two. He went on to play nearly 200 games for his hometown club before climbing the league ladder and playing Premier League football with Blackpool.

Wanderers have twice been frustrated by late postponements at Mansfield this season but Baptiste will nevertheless be pleased to return once again.

“It’ll be great to play there. It’s just such a shame there will be no fans,” he said. “We win there and we’re flying, so it’s a big game for the club.

“It’ll be nice to play back in Mansfield because the years I had there were unforgettable. They gave me my big chance and I love the place.

“My mum, my family are all still massive Mansfield fans and go to the games when they could - they’ll have season tickets again, I’m sure. It’s a special place for us."

Read more at https://www.theboltonnews.co.uk/sport/19092992.alex-baptiste-believes-bolton-can-still-business-league-two/

The chances of victory at Field Mill will be improved if Wanderers can maintain the defensive improvement shown against Stevenage, especially at set pieces, which have so often been their undoing.

“On Thursday we looked at that as a group and tried to get to the bottom of it, changed a few things,” Baptiste said.

“My man had a chance (against Stevenage) but I think we looked a lot more solid on set pieces. We need to start scoring some as well.

“The gaffer gave us a stat that we’re scoring more than anyone else from open play but it’s about one in 60 from corners and that’s not good enough. We know how much set pieces count and we need to be better.”

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