Evatt: 'Enjoy The Experience'

Ian Evatt wants his players to embrace the occasion and keep their promotion prospects on track when they face Barnsley at a vibrant University of Bolton Stadium.

Wanderers face the Tykes in the home leg of their play-off semi-final on Saturday with the majority of near sell-out crowd behind them.

Evatt’s men booked their place in the promotion shoot-out with a fifth-place finish in League One as they ended the regular season with a run of just one loss in 10 games wrapped around their triumph in the Papa Johns Trophy.

The Whites are now just two games away from a possible Wembley return and Evatt wants his side to have that prospect still firmly in their sights when they go to Oakwell for the second and deciding leg of the tie next Friday night.

“It’s great we’re in this game and again it’s a clear sign of progression,” said the Wanderers’ boss, who led his side up from League Two two years ago this month.

“We want to do well and for us, it’s enjoying the experience, enjoying the game, and making sure we play well and if we play well, it gives us a great chance of winning.

“It’s strange a feeling in terms of it’s a 180-minute game and not just 90. We can’t win or lose on Saturday, but what we can do is give ourselves a great opportunity to get through to the final.

“The boys are in really good spirits. I’m enjoying what I’m seeing, loving working with them every day and I can sense an air of confidence, but also a determination to do well and make sure we perform well on Saturday.”

Barnsley are seeking an instant return to the Championship and cemented their place in the play-offs a number of weeks ago as they tied down fourth spot in the League One table.

Evatt is expecting a tight encounter but hopes the Wanderers’ fans can help make a difference when the Whites have home advantage first up this weekend.

Image removed.

“Ticket sales are going unbelievably well and, again, that’s great credit to our fans who have backed us all season,” he added.

“It just shows the kind of progression we have made at this football club, that re-connect we’ve got with the town and the community, that they’re buying their season tickets in their thousands and coming on Saturday in their thousands. It really means the world to us and we want to do them proud.

“We know it’s going to be a really difficult game. Barnsley are a very good side, Duffo (Michael Duff) is a very good manager, but we’re looking forward to it and ready to go. We’re prepared. We just want to play well and if we play well it gives us a great chance.

“We want to enjoy it. We want to take on the experience. We’re proud we’re in the game, first and foremost, and proud of what we’ve achieved, but also really determined to do well and get this football club back at Wembley where we’ve got good memories.”

Read Time: 3 mins