IAN Evatt was up with the larks this morning to suss out his next opponents Cheltenham – and now he wants his Wanderers to be early risers too.

After watching his side outfought by Walsall at the weekend, there was an undeniable note of concern from the Bolton boss as he flagged up some of the dangers the next 90 minutes might hold.

Only Oldham Athletic (11) have conceded more than the nine goals Wanderers have leaked at set pieces this season. And Cheltenham – who narrowly trail Port Vale and Carlisle United as the division’s specialists, are perfectly set-up to exploit their weakness.

Evatt scoured footage of the Robins’ recent performances over the weekend and feels there has been a shift in style from the outfit which was beaten in last season’s play-off semi-finals by Northampton Town.

“It’ll be a tough test,” he said. “They are a lot more direct than I thought they would be.

“I have had a good look at them. I was up at 4.30am watching them. They pose a different threat to what I’d heard about them.

“People tell me that last season they play football, and I see some of that, but mostly I see long throws coming in from both sides from 30, 40, 50 yards out. Rory Delap-esque throws that go under your crossbar.

“I see set pieces, physicality and presence in the opposition box. It’ll be a tough battle standing up to that, so we have to stay calm and composed, making sure we clear our box better than we did on Saturday, then hurt them on the counter attack, which we have done to most teams now for a period of time.”

For some, Bolton’s fragility from set pieces is difficult to understand, given the physical size of their back line Evatt insists that defending crosses is not just a matter of height, however, and that technique has been lacking at crucial times.

“You just have to have an appetite to win first and second contact with the ball,” he said.

“It doesn’t matter if you are 5ft 8in marking a 6ft 4ins guy, provided you get underneath him and use your body, that you are physical and aggressive, it makes it difficult to go and get a free header.

“Too many times we have been nice and naïve with our marking.

“We are standing off and not embracing contact and we have to change it, be more aggressive and proactive.

“That is League Two. Unfortunately, the division we’re in 56-57 per cent of goals come from set pieces. That is what we are up against.

“We are very fortunate that we score goals different ways, attacking and pulling the opposition apart, playing with speed and counter-attacking. Other teams in this division play for set pieces. Walsall were extremely direct on Saturday and caused us problems, so we have to stand up to it.”

Evatt reiterated that he will not compromise his own footballing philosophy, having taken a side swipe at weekend opponents Walsall’s physical style.

But he accepts that Wanderers have to work harder to impose their own blueprint and ensure they do not get dragged into another battle.

“We just need to be better at what we do,” he said. “We need to stand up to the physicality.

“There are different ways to win a fight, as I’ve said. There’s no point us going toe-to-toe with Walsall, or someone like them, and being direct. We’re just not as good at it as they are.

“Put them in a football match, and they are nowhere near as good as us.

“The whole point of football, and it’s simple when you strip it back, is play to your strengths and hide your deficiencies.

“Our deficiencies at the moment are obviously crosses in the box, set pieces, so how do we counter that? We have to win the first and second contact but also be calm on regains.

“How many times did you see us second half against Walsall slashing at clearances? You need composure.

“If we do the basics, our football will take over. I believe – with the ball -we’re the best team in this league. Without it, we’re not, and that is why we are where we are at the minute.”