Ian Evatt says his players should not be too disheartened after going out of the Carabao Cup on penalties at Wigan Athletic.
Kieran Lee and Nathan Delfouneso missed their spot kicks after a goalless 90 minutes but Evatt – who made eight changes to the side which had beaten Oxford United at the weekend – refused to be downbeat about exiting the competition.
Nearly 4,700 away fans packed in to the DW Stadium hoping to see Bolton claim their first victory at the ground since 2011.
But while they went home disappointed, Evatt believes the shootout defeat should not make supporters too downbeat.
“It was a derby match, tight, not many chances at either end,” he said. “We probably had the best ones – Dapo first half, Gethin second half – and we gave it our best shot.
“We made a lot of changes and sometimes lacked a bit of fluidity.
“We didn’t lose the game – we did on penalties – and I think we competed well. We’ll only know if the changes worked on Saturday, that’s the true reflection of it, really.
“We are disappointed but that is the harsh reality of football, we came out on the right side of a penalty shoot-out against Barnsley and the wrong side of one here. It happens, it isn’t from the lack of trying.
“You have to trust the individuals. They stepped up, they chose to take one. That is good. And if they miss them, they miss them, they don’t mean to.
“We have to support them and they are obviously gutted but there isn’t anything to feel sorry for themselves about.
“We are a club on the way back. Our fans tonight were absolutely brilliant and we are in good shape. This team doesn’t lose games very often, so we will go again on Saturday.”
Asked if he was disappointed by the performance, given the number of changes to his side, Evatt added: “I don’t know what you mean about disappointed. We changed eight players and those lads who came in deserved to play, I trust them to play. They haven’t let them or themselves down, they gave it their best shot.
“We competed. There wasn’t much in the game, they huffed and puffed with set pieces and long balls and we had a couple of moments of incisiveness we could have scored from.
“We didn’t, they didn’t and we lost a penalty shootout.
“We are gutted but there are two derby games to come – one here, one at our place in October. And that is the most important thing now is that we focus on the league, we have a great game to play on Saturday at Cambridge and if we win that we have a place in the top six, and that is exactly where we want to be.”