Evatt | Time To Re-Focus And Get Ready

Evatt Jerome smiles Peterborough

Wanderers are setting their sights on another play-off semi-final with Barnsley after ending their regular season with a thrilling draw at top-six rivals Peterborough, writes Pete Oliver.

A late Cameron Jerome goal secured a point for the Whites after they had earlier led 2-0 in a lightning start at London Road.

Quick-fire goals from Kyle Dempsey and Dion Charles hinted at a possible late dash to automatic promotion.

But Derby’s win over Carlisle – also set up by an early goal – dashed those slender hopes and left Wanderers to pursue their promotion ambitions through the play-offs with a semi-final meeting with Barnsley for the second year running.

“First half, I was so impressed the way we went about our work,” said boss Ian Evatt, whose side is unbeaten in seven games following a 3-3 draw. “We really went after them and tried our best to apply some scoreboard pressure. 

“We managed to do that but credit to Derby. They stood up to it and got over the line and got the result they needed and congratulations to those two (including champions Portsmouth).

“There's no disappointment. There's no time for that. It's time to refocus and get ready for Friday. It’s Barnsley, the same as last year but hopefully it’s a different outcome.

“I think we’re a different team this year. I think we’ve evolved and I’ve just said to the players we can’t look any further afield than the game on Friday. That’s our next game, that’s our next challenge and we need to make sure we’re ready.

“There’s no point in looking too far ahead or dreaming about Wembley. We have to focus on the next game and the next game is Barnsley.”

The first leg of the semi-final is at Oakwell next Friday night and Wanderers this time have the second leg at home four days later.

The winners will then face either Oxford United or Peterborough in the final, with Evatt pleased with much of what he saw in a potential dress rehearsal where the home side hit back after the break to lead 3-2 before Jerome’s leveller.

“I thought the first half was excellent, really aggressive, really front-footed. We could have scored more and the result elsewhere probably damaged our confidence a little bit and we lost a little bit of focus,” added the Wanderers’ boss.

“The second half probably lacked the same intensity of the first and that’s natural. Having said that, I think their second goal was off-side and I think there were some poor decisions in there.

“It was great that the players re-gathered some composure and managed not to lose. That was important to keep some momentum. We actually gained control again after they scored the third goal, which was good, and there are valuable lessons learned should we meet them again.

“We also managed to get some players off the pitch and get them some rest because we know it’s a short turn-around now with the first leg being Friday. It was great that Dion got off the mark again, returning from injury, and we’ll have a few bodies back now for the play-offs as well and we’ll do our best to be ready.”

Midfielder Paris Maghoma missed the game at Peterborough through illness but is expected to be available for the play-off opener, while former Barnsley striker Victor Adeboyejo – whose goal kick-started a successful fightback at Oakwell in early March – is also due back in training on Monday after missing nine games with a hamstring injury.

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