Evatt | We Know We Need To Do Better

Ian Evatt look Bristol Rovers

Ian Evatt apologised for Wanderers’ first-half display but thanked the fans for their backing after the break as the Whites went down fighting with 10 men, writes Pete Oliver.

Wanderers suffered a first defeat in seven home games – and second loss in six days – as Bristol Rovers hung on to secure a 2-1 victory.

Evatt’s men trailed 2-0 at half-time after the visitors struck either side of a red card for Whites’ captain Ricardo Almeida Santos, who pulled down Aaron Collins when the Rovers’ striker had a clear run on goal.

The Wanderers’ boss admitted Wanderers’ first-half display had been ‘unacceptable’ but praised the spirit show on and off the pitch in a fightback that just failed to produce a point following Eoin Toal’s late response.

Toal celebration Bristol Rovers

“In the second half I was delighted with what the lads showed,” said Evatt after his side suffered back-to-back League One defeats for the first time in over 14 months on the back of Monday night’s loss at League One leaders Portsmouth.

“For 10 men to play like that and dominate 11 in the way we did is great credit to the players, but it wasn't enough. The first half wasn’t good enough for us. It still felt like some were carrying a bit of a hangover from Monday. You can't afford to start the game the way we did and you can't afford to give the goals away that we did at crucial times.

“The red card makes it really challenging and difficult for us. It was just really simple mistakes that we haven't been making. The second half was excellent, really for a team with 10 to play like that, but the first half was just not acceptable and not good enough and we have to be better than that.

Santos reaction red card

“We apologise to the fans for that because that's not us, it's not what we stand for and not what we're about. The fans were absolutely incredible the way they backed the players in the second half. They stuck with us, even though in the first half we didn't deserve that support. They rallied the troops and we had a right go but we left ourselves too much to do.”

Almeida Santos’ dismissal will earn the defender a one-match ban to keep him out of next Saturday’s home game against Leyton Orient, when a win could see the Whites go into Christmas back in second place in the table.

And Evatt is backing his players to respond in the right way after seeing their promotion push slow in the past week as their comeback attempt against Rovers fell just short following the loss of Santos and an enforced re-shuffle which saw defender Will Forrester replace Dion Charles.

“We made the change at 1-0 to do what we did in the second half, tactically,” Evatt told Wanderers TV. “We had a clear plan and idea of how to press minus-one. That meant sacrificing a striker. We needed Jon as the focal point because that's not Dion’s game, to be physical. But just as we made that change we conceded an awful second goal which made it extremely difficult.

Jon Jack disappointment

“In the second half it was all us. There were goalmouth scrambles, balls flashing across the face of goal, but it just wasn't our day.

“We've got work to do now but we've done it before and I have a huge amount of belief and faith in this team. We shouldn't lose that. Nobody should lose that and we shouldn't feel sorry for ourselves.

“We're in a really strong position. Yes, we know we need to do better than we have done in the last four or five days but prior to that we've been brilliant and we've always tried to respond in the right way. Today we didn't manage to do that, but I have believe that we will do it again next week.

“It's been a really tough week. It’s really disappointing with what we've done in the last four or five days. ‘Coulda, woulda, shoulda’ is probably the phrase but all we can do now his concentrate on ourselves, focus, re-group and get ready for a game next week.”

Watch the manager's full post-match interview on Wanderers TV HERE

Read Time: 4 mins