How to attack a side in the final quarter of the game

To exploit tiring defenders you need smart passing, says Crawley Town boss Steve Evans

"Width is the key because that’s what really opens up defences, particularly when they’re tiring.

If you can do that then more often than not you’re going to get your attackers in a position when they’re one-on-one with defenders – and that’s when you can do some real damage.

More after the break

You obviously need to make sure strikers are on the end of the balls into the box, but if you’ve got that quality and you create chances then you’ll keep the opposition on the back foot.

You need to switch the play very quickly, so you’re getting it from one side of the pitch to the other with long diagonal passes, which allows you to make the most of your wide players.

To do this successfully you need to do it at pace because that is what really opens up defences, particularly if the opposing full-back is out of position.

Switching the play also moves defenders around and there’s nothing most of them like less than having someone run at them.

Whether you’re at home or away, I think any manager likes to keep it tight in the first 20 minutes, because if you concede early then you’re always chasing the game.

In the last 20 minutes, the game opens up more and substitutions can be crucial, particularly if you’re chasing the game.

Bringing on a fresh pair of legs, particularly if the player has real pace, can be a nightmare proposition.


Because being favourites can be dangerous...

1 It’s only three points

As a manager it’s your job to continually emphasise that, no matter who you’re playing, there’s only ever three points on offer. That may sound simplistic, but it means that whoever you’re up against – be it top of the table or a club at the bottom – you approach every game in the same way.

2 Treat defeat and victory the same way

Victories are fantastic but you can get carried away. It’s so important not to get too high after a win or too low after a defeat. Massive swings in mood don’t do the side any favours, so make sure you stay level-headed. 

3 Combine effort with ability

We have a saying here at Crawley that ability will never beat effort. The team with the ability has to match the team with the effort, otherwise it’s going to be a long 90 minutes. When we’ve come unstuck it has been when our ability to work hard hasn’t matched our ability as individuals.

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