Pompey boss: Gareth Evans gives vital balance

Gareth Evans. Picture: Joe Pepler
Gareth Evans. Picture: Joe Pepler
  • Evans has six goals in 26 Pompey appearances, including three in December
  • Among four players vying for the Sky Bet League Two Player of the Month award

Balance – for Paul Cook a key component in footballing success.

And Gareth Evans is presently providing the perfect equilibrium to Pompey’s promotion-hunting side.

Gareth Evans scores against Leyton Orient. Picture: Joe Pepler

Gareth Evans scores against Leyton Orient. Picture: Joe Pepler

The 27-year-old’s magnificent December has earned him an entry into the Sky Bet League Two Player of the Month shortlist.

A return of three goals – in addition to an own goal initially credited to him at Leyton Orient – have capped some impressive displays of late from Evans.

The ex-Fleetwood man has this season been a fixture in Cook’s attacking midfield three, primarily on the right.

Yet his tireless engine and willingness to track back have demonstrated there is so much more to his game.

Good players don’t necessarily always play in the same good team. It must be balanced up

Gareth Evans

It has created a balance to a side featuring Kyle Bennett, Marc McNulty, Gary Roberts and Conor Chaplin on occasions.

Cook believes that contrast is essential to the make-up of his fourth-placed team.

He said: ‘Gareth is doing really well.

‘He’s a smashing kid who doesn’t cause you any problems and trains every day, you never see him in the treatment room.

‘He gives you a level of performance in the majority of games that normally result in chances.

‘Gareth also balances the team and that is what we all speak about all the time.

‘Balance is what managers are continually striving to get.

‘When you have had a successful team you look back and realise you got those balances right.

‘Good players don’t necessarily always play in the same good team. It must be balanced up.

‘Gareth does different stuff to some of our players.

‘He penetrates past the ball, whereas others come to the ball.

‘He has a great work ethic, is a really good team player and will always give you that impetus.

‘Adam McGurk is the same by the way, he will always offer you that same balance.

‘It’s just that Gareth has had possession of the jersey for a long time and to be fair to him his goals and energy keep him in the team.

‘When you go to these away grounds you will always have a period of being under pressure.

‘Gareth can relieve that pressure with his physicality and also relieve it with the ball.

‘To be fair he is doing well.’

Evans has scored six goals in 26 appearances so far this season, with only Conor Chaplin having netted more.

He has been an automatic choice for Cook, but missed three matches following a sending off at Cambridge United.

The 27-year-old is now vying with John Lundstram (Oxford United), Jason McCarthy (Wycombe) and Matty Taylor (Bristol Rovers) for the Player of the Month title in League Two.

Cook added: ‘Gareth’s playing really well and I felt his goal at Orient was top class, great play, great penetration and great movement.

‘On another day we would have equalised at that stage. The third goal was an absolute killer, in that match we found a way to keep killing ourselves.

‘He has chances in every game now and that’s great credit to him.’