02 September 2023

Ian Evatt delighted with Bolton’s display against ‘direct competitor’ Derby

02 September 2023

Delighted Ian Evatt reckons second-placed Bolton finally came of age by beating a potential Sky Bet League One promotion rival in their 2-1 win over Derby.

Last season’s play-off semi-finalists slumped to a 4-0 hammering by Wigan on their last home appearance and have often flattered to deceive against supposed fancied teams.

But despite falling behind to Conor Hourihane’s 33rd-minute penalty, Wanderers hit back in a game that saw Derby reduced to 10-men after goalkeeper Joe Wildsmith’s dismissal.

Dion Charles scored an equalising spot-kick before the break to register his fifth goal in as many games.

And after Wildsmith’s sending off after 48 minutes for handling a goal bound Charles shot, Bolton grabbed a 65th-minute winner when Josh Dacres-Cogley’s effort looped off Tyrese Fornah and over substitute keeper Josh Vickers.

“For the first time we showed up against a direct competitor and played the way I know we can,” said Evatt.

“We started exactly how we should have done, but didn’t in the Wigan game.

“We were on the front foot, we were aggressive, we won duels, we played with tempo and we had them penned in for large periods.

“We conceded a goal and it would have been easy for the players to feel sorry for ourselves.

“It would have been easy for fans in the stadium to feel sorry for themselves. But I think the way the majority backed the players today, it was rocking.

“We got ourselves back in the game and I thought it was a deserved three points in the end.

“The sending off almost didn’t help us. Derby almost sacrificed attacking until the last five minutes which were a bit edgy because of the last couple of weeks.”

Derby boss Paul Warne described Wildsmith’s red card as “on the shade of harsh”, but reckoned his team’s defeat was partially self-inflicted.

“I could not tell whether the ball hit him on the chest or his arm,” said Warne.

“What I can say it is difficult for a goalkeeper if it gets smashed at him from 10 yards not to naturally react.”

Warne also pointed to a possible second penalty after first-half culprit Victor Adeboyejo clumsily challenged substitute Sonny Bradley.

“The lad is not looking at the ball and puts him (Bradley) on the floor, which isn’t easy considering Sonny is 6’4”,” Warne added.

“It was frustrating, but that aside I don’t think we were good enough in the first half. Or as good as we should be.

“I keep saying they are better than what they think. They need to play with more courage.”

Warne also confirmed Jake Rooney faces a lengthy absence after suffering a knee injury in the early stages of the first half, which led to Bradley’s introduction.

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