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Interviews

Gaffer at the Weekend

Boss reflects on 1-1 draw at Shrewsbury.

4 October 2020

Steve Evans delivers his usual Sunday round-up.

Q: Although after Saturday's game you said you were disappointed not to win, can you take heart from the fact we got something when our performance (first half) wasn't as you expected?
 
A1: Let me give you clarity on my thoughts. As much as I was disappointed with our first half performance, there was nothing in the game between the two teams. We have to be pressing with much more intensity, compete in all areas, pass the ball better and move our opponents around quicker.
 
This young squad will always give everything for the cause, each of the players has it in their DNA. Had we not equalised it would have been very disappointing given we dominated the entire second half. 
 
Disappointed with a point I am, but we take it and go back on the training ground to work hard on the things we are implementing with the guys.
 
Q: Shrewsbury is always a tricky place to go and the weather conditions certainly didn't help. Was it the type of game you were expecting?
 
A2: The conditions played a part but it played out much like I expected other than our lack of performance in the first half.
 
I believed if we deployed the game we planned for we would win, but to do it for one half only is not enough.
 
Q: Having fallen behind we cleared one off the line and were just beginning to look like ourselves before the break. What was the message to the boys at half time?
 
A3: The message was clear, we need to up our levels of intensity and pass the ball quicker with more accuracy. 
 
We also changed personnel and with that the shape of the team also.... it worked to the extent we dominated the second half and should have scored at least three times.
 
Q: You made a change at the interval. What was the thinking behind that?
 
Q4: As I said before, we changed personnel to affect the change of shape we needed to deploy. Jacob Mellis worked extremely hard in the first period but with the change he had to come off to benefit the team.
 
Q: We had the majority of possession during the half and Shrewsbury began to defend deeper. When teams do that are you actually more confident you will create more?
 
A5: Dominating possession in the opponents half always gives you more of a chance to score goals but at the same time, unless you are set up properly, you are open to a counter attack.
 
In that second half we have Oliver, Samuel, Graham, Akinde and Coyle all on the pitch so there was enough fire power there to get goals.
 
I would rather die trying to score a goal when we are not winning than lie down weakly and lose!
 
Q: I asked you after the game but did you genuinely believe we could pull ourselves level in the last few moments?
 
A6: There was never a doubt for me. We had four very talented boys on the pitch who could take a chance.
 
I always believed we would make good chances and of the two we did we scored one, and one of our strikers accidentally blocked one on the line whilst trying to get out the way.
 
The minimum is we fight to the end, the opposite is unthinkable!
 
Q: Jordan Graham produced the goods right at the death. When you have players who possess the qualities that he has you must always be fairly confident a goal is in us?
 
A7: We have so many talented players and my job is to get them working in a shape together giving MAXIMUM effort.
 
You can be a top player, and many of our youngsters are in that bracket, but if they individually do not work hard they in my opinion become an average or poor player.
 
Look at the top end of football, the elite players, they are all so talented but they are for sure the hardest working players.
 
Q: With players returning from injury and the new lads blending in well, it won't be long before you are spoilt for choice in some areas?
 
A8: We have the smallest squad in the EFL and that is a fact based on all the squads provided to us. However, we have a lot of talented kids in it and, you're right, we need the injured lads back with us sooner rather than later.
 
Stuart O’ Keefe is out for the season but Kyle Dempsey, Scott Robertson and Matty Willock are big players, hopefully they can be back training in the weeke ahead.
 
We started pre-season with six players and the lads have joined us one by one to get us to 20 first team players, the smallest in the EFL, but as I said it’s packed with talent.
 
Q: You said you would make changes for Tuesday's game at Ipswich. Ideally, will you replace all XI?
 
A9: If our injured players could play I would. 
 
There will be plenty of changes, I hold no interest in the competition and like Paul Lambert at Ipswich Town I just wonder why we are.
 
A few of the youth will be involved for the first time, my only priority is hosting Oxford United next Saturday.
 
Q: You have some big games coming up in a short space of time. How important is it to rest your players at every opportunity?
 
A10: Our players are young, fresh and don’t need rest so we will work hard continually.
 
This midweek game at Ipswich is not a priority so I will ensure we are fresh and for next weekend when a serious automatic promotion contender comes to Priestfield.
 
Q: Recruitment wise, are you still looking for one more?
 
A11: We may look at one in the next week or so.
 
With Dempsey, Robertson and Willock due back it will feel like we have added three quality additions, especially Kyle Dempsey who we’ve been without since the opening day.
 
Let us keep focused, work hard on the training ground, stay positive and enjoy watching these kids take on the various challenges that will come their way.

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