Ian Evatt hailed debuts Aaron Morley and James Trafford as the Wanderers scored a much-needed win against Ipswich Town.
Trafford, who came from Morley and loaned Manchester City, started for the first time in a difficult match, which was won by Kieran Lee and Dabo Avolayan in the second half.
“I’m happy for both of them,” said Evatt, who made four changes to his team and moved to five at the back on a visit to the Tractor Boys. “Two guys and when Kieran Lee comes out of this team it’s a really young team.
“James at 19 and to deal with the high pressure, a good quality match, I thought he was excellent. Everything he did was really strong.
“Aaron has the quality. He sees the pictures and he passes, the way he wipes, and he’s just going to get better. We didn’t have long to work on that form and we’d only get better, especially in possession, but I thought the way we attacked in number and defended with numbers was excellent.”
The Wanderers had lost their last four games, as frustrations began to emerge around the fan base as the team slipped to 18th in the table, just three points off the last quarter.
But the victory over Ipswich – which now puts a five-point difference between the whites and 21st-placed Morecambe – was well deserved, in Evatt’s opinion.
“I think we’ve suffered for a long time now,” he said. “We all wanted that result and needed it today.
“I thought it was a really good football match. They are a good team and well trained but changing our form really helped us.
“I asked them before the match, everything we do today we do as one unit. We defended and attacked as one.
“These high-quality games are going to ebb and flow. The good thing for me today is that we were so solid and solid when they had their moments, and then finally took chances when we got them. That was the difference.”
Wanderers dropped top scorer Dabo Avolayan off the bench for the first time in a league game this season – but the former West Ham winger came in 20 minutes ago to score his first league goal since October.
“Dabo is an excellent player but there are always big calls,” Evatt said of the decision.
“What we’re trying to do here is have a competitive team, some quality and depth.
“Dapo has to accept that – it’s not Dapo Afolayan’s offer, it’s about Bolton, the badge up front we play for. He accepts that and I’m glad he came, made a difference and scored a goal.”
Evatt said work to sign other players is “in progress” although nothing is expected until the end of next week.
For now, the Bolton boss is determined to enjoy a result that confirms his belief that the squad will improve in January with new signings, players returning from injury and improving fitness after a wave of Covid hit the camp in December.
“I’d like to think I know what I’m doing – although some Bolton fans might not for the last couple of months think so. Every single one, I even got it in my neck while driving this morning!” he laughed.
“It’s a journey for the whole club. It doesn’t change things and makes us a good team again, and to be honest I don’t think we were a bad team, we just struggled in both boxes.
“Today we got the winning goals but we still have a long way to go. There will be players going in and out, and we will remember players like Eoin (Doyle) and Antoni (Sarcevic) who have done a great job for us.
“This is the next stage of our development. We bring in players with good technique, ability and energy, who want to learn.
“This has been an extended sticky patch, and I understand that, but we are confident that we are doing the right thing. This is the first step on a new journey, we hope.”