FOUR minutes into Tuesday night’s game at Barrow you could have got good odds on Ian Evatt walking away from Holker Street whistling a happy tune.

His side trailing 2-0 and looking as defensively vulnerable as at any stage in a poor start to the League Two campaign, the head coach and his players looked certain in incur the wrath of fans watching on in disbelief back in Lancashire.

Indeed, even after Peter Kioso had brought Bolton back into the game there was a spell where Barrow nearly killed the game stone dead – first with a hotly-disputed third goal from Dior Angus, then a gilt-edged opportunity missed to make it 4-1.

But for the first time this season the footballing gods smiled upon Evatt, and once Eoin Doyle had brought his side back within striking distance there was a whole new demeanour about the men in white.

Evatt would probably have preferred an earlier equaliser than the 94th minute one supplied by Antoni Sarcevic; had they done so Wanderers would surely have felt confident of taking all three points.

But the fact that they got back aboard the bus in Cumbria with something to show for the efforts may yet be an important milestone in a season which still has 39 games to run.

Evatt had laid into his team after defeat to Oldham a few days earlier and shown some contrition in the build-up to his return to Barrow.

And speaking after the final whistle at his old stomping ground, there were signs that he had taken on board a lesson from the reaction of his players and the supporters in the time between the two games.

“It shows me that there is character in there,” he said of the performance at Barrow. “Obviously I questioned that on Saturday and I was a bit emotional after the game because of the manner of the defeat and the 95th minute goal but when you sift through the debris sometimes, and took all that emotion out of it on Sunday morning, we weren’t as bad as I thought we were.

“We had opportunities in the game. And everything Oldham did was on the back of our own mistakes. They created nothing themselves.

“So, we have to cut those mistakes out, of course, and we have to train and work hard to do that.

“We had to pick them up again and though I’d questioned their character they showed bundles of it out there. And I know first-hand that to play and to get results here, you have to show character.”

It stands to reason that Bolton will find it tougher to find the success Evatt craves if they continue to gift goals in the way they have over the last two games.

A defensive re-jig on Tuesday night saw Harry Brockbank moved to the left wing-back spot and Alex Baptiste’s experience used on the right side of the back three.

With Reiss Greenidge, George Taft and his regular left-sided operators, Liam Gordon and Jamie Mascoll, left on the bench at Barrow there are options for further changes as Wanderers go in search of another result against table-topping Cambridge United this weekend.

One such option could be to match up the back four preferred by their hosts, just as they did against Colchester last month.

Wanderers have found it tough to find a settled defensive unit and that may be a contributing factor in the fact they have fallen behind in eight of their nine outings so far.

A degree of squad rotation is inevitable, given the fact that Bolton will have played six games in 17 days by the time they host Salford City next month in front of the Sky Sports cameras.

But Evatt is well aware his side can ill-afford to concede such ground as they did at Barrow and expect to claw back the slack each week.

“The frustrating thing is we have scored three goals in a game and we haven’t won,” he said. “The first two goals were poor and the way we started the game was poor.

“But I had a feeling after the first 10 minutes. We started to switch on and for the first time this season we’ve really looked like a team that’s determined not to lose.

“At 2-1 and 3-1 they could have easily gone under, easily crumbled, but I’m immensely proud of the fact they didn’t.

“It’s a step in the right direction but we have to back it up now and use this as a springboard for Saturday.”