Ian Evatt in defiant mood as Bolton rescue late point against Gillingham

Posted Sunday, October 24, 2021 by PA

Ian Evatt in defiant mood as Bolton rescue late point against Gillingham

Ian Evatt was in defiant mood after his Bolton side snatched an unlikely League One point at home to Gillingham with last-gasp goals from leading scorer Dapo Afolayan and Kieran Lee.

Wanderers were heading for a fourth-successive defeat as John Akinde and Kyle Dempsey struck in the opening 14 minutes.

The Gills, bidding for a first win at Bolton since 1986, then missed a host of chances with striker Vadaine Oliver their chief culprit.

Wanderers eventually piled on the pressure, while Jamie Cumming produced several fine saves and MJ Williams missed a sitter from five yards before Bolton ended a run of three games without a goal with two in four minutes.

“It’s nonsense people doubting our togetherness and team spirit,” said manager Evatt. “It was almost the perfect story to what has been a tough and difficult 10 days.

“If we had five minutes more we would have got the winner. This group is together and has fought. They are just lacking confidence.”

However, a relieved Evatt admitted: “We thought it was never going to happen. When it (first goal) did go in, you could sense the relief.

“Then we clicked into gear and looked like our old selves. We then believed to go and get a second.”

Evatt revealed a rousing interval team talk helped transform the Trotters, who lost defender George Johnston at half-time through injury.

“We said regardless of what happened we had to win the second half and make it our reset button for the next game.

“We did that and got a point. Their energy, belief and confidence came back. When it did we looked a great team.”

Evatt shrugged off suggestions skipper Antoni Sarcevic’s abrupt move to National League Stockport had effected his squad’s mood.

“It was more a reflection how it has gone for us in the last 10 days,” he added, referencing heavy defeats to Wigan and Plymouth.

“It takes a long time to build up confidence and it can be gone overnight.”

Gillingham boss Steve Evans was left to rue his side’s missed chances after Akinde turned in Danny Lloyd’s cross and Dempsey struck their first goals of the campaign.

“After 70 minutes, we could have been seven or eight up,” he said. “We have a brilliant striker who misses the easiest three chances he will have in the season.

“He is one of the best in the league. But it was unacceptable quality of finishing.

“But he is an honest kid and said he cost us rather than people switching off near the end.

“If you don’t get a third goal, Bolton can throw caution to the wind.

“You always worry with a goal late in the game, the crowd will get behind their team – and they are brilliant here.

“And Kieran Lee did what Kieran Lee does – make late runs into the box.

“In the last 15 minutes we looked scrappy and tired.

“I am not defending the players but a nine-and-a-half-hour journey from Kent on Friday night was excessive. It was a difficult preparation.”




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