Bolton Wanderers embark on their FA Cup journey tomorrow this season with a home clash against Barnsley.
Wanderers take on fellow League One side the Tykes in a first round clash at the University of Bolton Stadium. Kick-off is at 2pm.
The game is a repeat of the League One encounter which took place in mid-October. On that occasion, stalemate ensued as the Whites were unable to break down Michael Duff's outfit.
READ MORE: Bolton Wanderers predicted starting team vs Barnsley as injury rules out Aimson & Isgrove
With the potential of a replay looming if there is no decisive result on the day, both sides will be aiming to get through to the second round with victory tomorrow afternoon. Prior to the game, Wanderers boss Ian Evatt spoke to the media at a pre-match press conference and here's a transcript of what he had to say to broadcasters.
“Everyone is available and healthy apart from Lloyd (Isgrove). It is not the same injury but it is the same hamstring. It is probably the amount he did in that week.
“He has just got a small tear in the lower part of that hamstring, which is probably three to four weeks. And Will (Aimson), a bit more of a significant hamstring injury from the B Team game which will probably be six weeks.”
Do you fancy a cup run?
“You wouldn’t think so with my record in the FA Cup in particular! We obviously want to win and will try our best to win the game. Cup runs and winning football matches breeds confidence and this game is no different.”
The fact you’ve recently played Barnsley, does that make it any easier or different to approach the game?
“No. Whether their approach will change because there’s not points on offer and it’s a straight knock-out, I don’t know. We can only manage ourselves and our own expectations and we want to get back to a good performance level.
“I think we’ve spoke about having a pretty average month, but an average month for us now looks like three wins, a draw and three losses, so it’s not that bad if we’re looked as that as an average month.
“Just get back to being ourselves. I think having a week on the grass has really helped the players. I think that we do seem to struggle when our training schedule becomes interrupted due to the fixture list, so we probably need to look at things and about keeping that time on the grass and keeping that detail of the training sessions, because I do think we come away from some of our patterns when we’re not doing it every single day.”
At this stage of the season, we’re not too far away from the World Cup starting, you’ve still got the EFL Trophy on the go, still well placed in the League and an opportunity in the FA Cup - do you have to balance all that?
“I think sometimes we need to stop and breath and have some perspective and we look at historical seasons and especially while I’ve been at the club and I do think there’s been significant progression.
“It shows that there has when at this stage last season, we’re far better off than what we were. We’re in the top six in the division which is vitally important for where we want to get to.
“We’ve had an amazing game against Aston Villa here, we’ve had a fantastic defensive record, a great start to the season for the first 10 games, so there’s been lots of positives.
“I think sometimes a week to two weeks in football is a very long time and football fans have sometimes very short memories. But for now we’re just fully focused on winning the next game, the next opportunity, and that’s Barnsley on Saturday and we know we can play a damn sight better than what we have this last month.”
How are you feeling after last weekend’s defeat against Oxford?
“Obviously, I was very disappointed with Saturday. It just wasn’t us for so many reasons. We have had a lot of time this week to discuss what has happened this past month, have a look at how we can improve, and have a look at what we did well and didn’t do well.
"Once we all feel like it is an average month, winning almost half of the games, it shows again the improvement and the progression of this football club. We want to be better, we’re trying hard to be better, we know we can be better. But you are not going to play well in every game in every month of a football season – they are just too long.
"We have to take the heat when we get some heat, and take the praise when we get some praise. The last month or so, we have had a bit of heat. But pressure is an absolute privilege and we want to keep working hard to improve. We have got a fresh month now to have a go at and see where that takes us.”
How helpful could the lack of midweek games be this month?
“Never say never because if we get the Papa Johns game in there, and for any reason there might be a cup replay, all of a sudden it becomes a packed month again. For us, we are looking at the fixtures we have actually got and we are targeting doing the best we possibly can. As I said, we are in the top six – that is vitally important. We will keep going with our league campaign but also want a very good cup run.”
How important is it to bounce back from Oxford?
“Obviously, we want to perform better than we have – there is no denying that. But as I said, football seasons ebb and flow and you need to stay consistent with your behaviour, stay consistent with your mindset and make sure we are fully focused on the tasks in front of us. Oxford are always an energetic team – there was no surprise to us there.
"It was more disappointing that we couldn’t match their energy, but there might be some reasons as to why. Certainly, we have got to stop giving teams the first goal because once again if you look at our record when we score first, we are a very difficult team to get points off. Our first-half record needs to be better.
"Scoring that first goal is pivotal for us and if we can get that, then it changes things. But as I said, we have done a lot of hard work this week and we are trying to keep the players in a positive frame of mind because it is important for how we play.”
You want to be proactive rather than reactive…
“We are not always going to score first so it is nice to see that we can win from behind. And I genuinely believe on Saturday, if we hadn’t conceded such a poor goal from a corner, it felt like we were going to get back into it again. We had all the momentum, we had all the pressure.
"I genuinely believe we would have got something out of that game. That is no bad habit to get into either, but obviously it makes things a lot easier for ourselves – especially given the way we play and sometimes what the opposition are trying to do against us with their gameplan. It would make it easier for us to get that first goal, and that is what we are trying to do.”
The players are still eager to improve…
“What we are now as a football club is honest. As I have said before, delusion in football is a serious thing and there is lots of players, managers, staff and fans who have that delusion because they want to believe they are the best, even when things aren’t going well.
"We are honest. We know we haven’t played that well in October, but it is not a bad thing that we haven’t played well in any of the games and still won three and drawn one out of seven. It shows you where the progression is at and if we are able to get points when we don’t play well, hopefully when we do play well it that will mean we take maximum points all of the time.
"Our record last season when we scored first, and our record this season, is exceptional and that is what we have to focus on and play with that intensity - almost play ‘angry’. Even as a stadium, the atmosphere – if we can do that at 0-0 from minute one rather than when we have build a head of steam and all of a sudden it becomes an absolute cauldron.
"If we can all provide that sort of energy and intensity – from players to staff to crowds, this is going to become a really difficult to come. That is what we are trying to do from minute one and not waiting until we are behind in games.”
It seems like both sides aren’t keen on a replay this weekend…
“I think football seasons are difficult and intense enough without having to have many replays, so obviously I think we will both be trying to win it on the day. Replays are no good to anybody, but I would rather have a replay than us be out completely.
"We are going out to try and win the game. We go out to try and win every game, and that is no different this Saturday. Hopefully, we can perform a lot better than we did last Saturday.”
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