Wanderers’ record in the so-called ‘big games’ in front of ‘big crowds’ had come under some scrutiny in the build-up – but Ian Evatt took some delight in knocking down another doubt with victory against Blackpool.
Boosted by a 4,171 travelling contingent from the coast, a .crowd of 24,238 watched the Whites record a sixth straight win in all competitions, courtesy of George Thomason’s stunning second-half effort.
Home defeats against Wigan or Carlisle had both been suffered in front of a packed house, amplifying disappointment felt at the time, but Evatt maintained after Saturday’s final whistle that there was no underlying issue.
“It shouldn’t be in question – and the narrative there has been is wrong,” he said. “Yes, we have lost games, but the one that we don’t do it in big games is just not true.
“We are going through our development stage now as well, we have had to progress over three or four years now where we are competing against the best teams in League One and that doesn’t happen overnight.
“Yes, there has been one or two games where we have let ourselves down and we’re the first ones to hold our hands up – but the narrative that we don’t play well in the big games doesn’t sit well with me, I don’t think that is true.
“The players, whenever they are questioned, always come up with the right answers.
“Every game now is a big game because of where we are in the league table, the expectation in the stadium, but the way the fans backed the players, I just love what we are doing here right now. We are going to need to keep working hard to keep that in place, there is a fine line between confidence and complacency and it is importance we keep on the right side of that line.”
Though the margin of victory was slight, Evatt felt his side was more than worthy having created several big chances in the second half.
But the day belonged to Thomason – the midfielder rejected by Blackpool as a 16-year-old, and ironically the only player in the whole squad that the Bolton boss did not sign.
“I think we had 16 shots and (their keeper) has made five saves and there are moments where we should have done better,” he said. “But I am so pleased for George. That is another challenge we have given him, to add goals and assists to his game, and he has added another lovely pass for Dion’s chance om Tuesday night, another one today, and to get on the end of another brilliant set from Jon Dadi and finish that way, I’m really pleased for him.
“Football throws up these stories all the time and it was great for him to do that today.”