Ian Evatt hopes to find some respite in the cup competitions at Wanderers this week.
The Bolton boss wants to brighten the mood by securing results against League Two Rochdale in the Papa John’s Trophy on Tuesday night, followed by a home game against National League Stockport County the following Sunday.
League form has taken a dip, with a five-game run without victory extended on a long trip to Portsmouth yesterday.
And though circumstances seem to be conspiring against Evatt at present, he believes positive steps can be taken against lower league opposition.
“I want to win both games and we’ll be doing all we can to win both games,” he said. “That gives us some confidence levels back.
“We are a better team than we showed in that last half an hour of the second half (at Portsmouth), as you saw in that first half.
“We will hopefully get the bodies back, we will get some fitness levels back because we have had illness this week, we had a nine-hour journey yesterday, which was an absolute nightmare.
“I could stand here and make excuses all day, we just need to be better. Forget the excuses, keep our heads high, keep working hard and get back on that winning trail.”
Evatt felt his side were in firm control of the game at Portsmouth until a couple of defensive mistakes led to John Marquis’s opening goal on 51 minutes.
Confidence drained from Bolton at that stage and they struggled to manufacture serious goalscoring opportunities from that point forward.
“We were comfortable,” Evatt said. “They didn’t look like scoring and then out of nothing, we concede an awful goal from their throw in, and we try to gamble and steal it when we should just show them backwards. Obviously, Joel Dixon should then save it, there’s no denying that.
“Goals change games don’t they? I thought they were struggling really to get a foothold in the game. It was mostly us that was controlling it, but we have somehow lost a game that we were in control of and that is down to a lack of confidence, lack of belief and the run we are on.
“The game was there for the taking at half-time. I think we could all feel that, we could all feel that we were on top and we were controlling it, and sometimes when you’re on these runs things go against you, but we’re going to stand here and fight.”
Evatt has only once before been through a longer winless run as a manager, with his Wanderers side going six games between December 19, 2020, and January 21, 2021 – book-ended coincidentally, by defeats to Tranmere Rovers.
He insists there will be no over-reaction and is confident that by the time league football resumes with a home game against Crewe on Friday, November 12, that the mood will be better around the UniBol.
“There is nothing that we haven’t been through before,” he said. “We are calm. Obviously I’m angry and I’m frustrated because we are better than we have shown the last three weeks, especially result wise, but I do feel like we have been dealt a pretty rough hand with long journeys, difficult fixtures, injuries, suspensions, and then in turn that hampers and harms our confidence levels.
“But we have two weeks now before the league kicks off again and some very winnable fixtures coming up, and we have to keep our head high, keep confident, and get it back together again.”