Wanderers resume their League One campaign at Reading on Saturday looking to show sympathy off the pitch, but not on it, writes Pete Oliver.
The Whites will face a Reading side which was this week given a second points’ deduction of the season by the EFL due to financial issues.
The Royals – relegated last season from the Championship – have had a total of four points removed to sit in the bottom four with a revised tally of two points from their opening six games.
Wanderers won’t want to make life any easier on the playing front but can relate to Reading’s other issues after almost going under four years ago before the club was saved by Football Ventures (Whites) Limited.
“We have to show empathy and be sympathetic to the way it’s going there,” said Wanderers’ boss Ian Evatt.
“We’ve been there ourselves. It’s very sad to see football club deducted points. It affects the coaching staff, it affects the players, it affects the fans and it’s not a nice place to be.
“For us, it’s another marker that we can look from the outside and show the progress we’ve made as a football club.
“Sharon (chairman Sharon Brittan), the rest of the Board, the support they have given me personally and the rest of this football club, to re-build it again has been huge. The fans have played a massive part in that as well with their support for me and the club.
“We’re back progressing again and that’s really important that we’re hungry for more and hungry to get back to where, we believe, this football club belongs.
“But it doesn’t change the fact that we can be very sympathetic to those that are worse off than us, especially when we’ve been in a similar scenario in our recent history.”
Wanderers’ recovery has taken them from the brink and relegation to League Two in 2020 to a place at the top end of League One.
Evatt’s men have lost just one of the first six games this season but know they could face a wounded animal in Reading, with emotions potentially running high at the Select Car Leasing Stadium.
“The points’ deduction can work in two ways,” added Evatt. “It can galvanise them as a club with almost that siege mentality or they can feel sorry for themselves.
“I would think it will be number one. I think the fans will galvanise the team and the team will try and galvanise the fans and it will become a difficult game for us and tough place to go.
“But for us, it’s to replicate that performance against Derby as best we can and hopefully get another three points.
“We’re ready to play again. It’s felt like a long couple of weeks but we’re ready to go again, refreshed and fully focused.”
Wanderers signed off their league push before the international break with an impressive 2-1 win over Derby County, which has the Whites sitting second in the table.
Their focus is now on another six-game run before another potential international interlude when the season will be close to a quarter of the way through.
“It was great there were two games last week and we’ve managed to not lose out positionally, which is a good boost for everybody,” said Evatt, whose side is sitting a point behind early pace-setters Stevenage.
“We can go and attack this game like we have every game so far this season and try and get three points.
“We want to attack this next block of games. Normally after the end of 10 games, the league table starts to take shape and, fingers crossed, at the end of those 10 league fixtures we are exactly where we want to be.”
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