An own goal from James Brophy and a 10th of the season for Eoin Doyle handed Bolton an overdue victory against Leyton Orient, lifting some of the gloom that had been circulating at the Universoty of Bolton Stadium of late.
Played in blustery winter conditions, the game had been a scrappy affair up to the hour mark with Nathan Delfouneso wasting the one outstanding chance of the first half.
But whereas Wanderers have all-too-often surrendered an advantage at home this season, this time they seized control, rocking the visitors with an opener on 67 minutes which was initially credited to Harry Brockbank, but later to unfortunate defender, Brophy.
Evatt, who had made six changes to the team beaten by Tranmere Rovers last time out, felt the margin of victory could have been more. After Doyle had doubled the lead both Delfouneso and substitute Zack Elbouzedi had golden opportunities to stretch the lead to something like the 4-0 scoreline suffered at Brisbane Road in October.
“I think for the first time in a while we got what we deserved,” said the Bolton boss. “I thought we controlled the game, we were more workmanlike than anything else but the conditions weren’t easy out there.
“I don’t know where that wind has come from… Probably Blackpool or Barrow, I think.
“It was much better, though. We were the better side in the first half without creating loads. We had the better chances to score and it probably would have made it a different game if we had.
“In the second half we were patient, our press was good, and when we got the opportunities we were a bit more clinical. However, in the end we could have got four, five or six.”
Wanderers have failed to score a first-half goal in January and their poor home form has become a frustrating feature of this season. Evatt was pleased to see his side grasp the nettle in the second half in what had been a tight game.
“I think if there’s 12,000 fans in the building then they suck the ball into the net in the first half,” he said. “We haven’t had that and at half time I was thinking ‘are we ever going to score?’ “We couldn’t take our chances, the ball is bouncing around the box, nothing fell for us. But second half we were more clinical and that first goal did wonders for our confidence. When we have scored first I think we’ve won 80 per cent of the games, and it was a huge boost.”
Evatt had named an attacking line-up but raised a few eyebrows when he made such sweeping alterations to his line-up.
“A fan in the supporters’ trust meeting in midweek asked me why I never change the team, so I thought I’d better change it,” he smiled. “It’s very much a squad game and we’re getting players back fit and available again.
“Kieran Lee makes a huge difference to us with his experience in the middle of the pitch. Nathan Delfouneso is back fit now after his injection, we have Declan (John) returning.
“When we play at the intensity we do and we have Saturday-Tuesday games for the next five weeks, other than one week, we will have to change the team. They simply can’t keep producing that intensity.
“And we got what we deserved, which is the pleasing thing.
“We just needed to break that cycle and get the win on the board. What it will do for their confidence is amazing and I said to them in there ‘enjoy it’.
“We haven’t won often enough recently, though performances have been better on the whole, this shape seems to suit us and we are controlling games more. I am over the moon for everyone because it has been a productive and positive week on and off the pitch. But we have to go again at Mansfield.”
Before the visit to Field Mill on Tuesday night Evatt expects a busy transfer deadline day.
Two signings are now close to completion and Wanderers fans could be in for a late night, with deals expected to go right down to the wire.
“I think it will be (busy), at least I hope it is,” he said. “It will be last minute but we’re confident we’ll get deals done – in and out – and I’m looking forward to it.
“It’s my first transfer deadline day, hopefully Jeff (Stelling) will bring the cameras down and we can have Harry Redknapp in the car park, or whatever else happens.
“It’ll be exciting. We’re a couple light, there should be a couple coming in and one or two leaving permanently as well.”