Bolton are in a strong position to book a second Wembley trip in six weeks, boss Ian Evatt insisted after his side’s play-off draw with Barnsley.
The EFL Trophy winners failed to secure a first-leg advantage in their semi-final and were grateful as leading marksman Dion Charles scrambled in an equaliser after Nicky Cadden’s 64th-minute opener had put Barnsley in the driving seat ahead of next Friday’s return at Oakwell.
Trotters keeper James Trafford, in his final home appearance before returning to Manchester City, produced some vital saves either side of the goals.
Evatt described his team’s first-half display as “shy and timid” but said defiantly: “I know we can play a lot better. I feel really positive.
“Maybe last night’s result (Peterborough’s 4-0 win over Sheffield Wednesday) had an impact because it looked like we were playing in our shells.
“There was a huge amount of nerves and that result effected everyone’s mindset because no one wanted to lose it in the first leg.
“Once the goal went in the shackles came off. All of a sudden we sparked into life and had more possession and more control.
“Barnsley will feel they are in a strong position. But I feel we are in a strong position.
“There will be more onus on them being the home team, more pressure and we are a dangerous team when the spaces become bigger.”
On Trafford’s performance, Evatt said: “James made some wonderful saves. He is the best goalie in the league for a reason and that’s what he does.
“He is a brilliant young keeper and I believe he will go to the very top.”
Opposite number Harry Isted had less to keep him occupied. And when he tried to cut out Randell Williams’ cross, he could only push the ball out for Charles to score.
Trafford continued to thwart Barnsley with a double save from Bobby Thomas while Barnsley skipper Mads Andersen ensured there were no further goals with a fine block from Wanderers substitute Dan N’Lundulu.
“We did enough to win the game,” insisted Barnsley boss Michael Duff. “It was a disciplined performance against a very good team.
“Their goal came from nothing and we had some good chances and the keeper made some good saves.
“It is a sign of our performance that there is a tinge of disappointment that we didn’t do enough to shade it.
“Even after (their goal) we still had enough chances to go on and win it: lots of corners, lots of shots.
“But next Friday will be a tight and similar sort of affair. I said to the players, ‘don’t think the job is done now’. There will be no back-slapping.
“Last time they came to our place they beat us 3-0. There are 90 minutes of the season left so we still have to give it everything again.”
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