IAN Evatt had no doubt that Matt Gilks would be ready to come out of semi-retirement to help Wanderers back to winnings ways.

The 38-year-old goalkeeper coach played his first game in 14 months as the Whites beat Salford City 2-0 at the UniBol.

Evatt had been under pressure to drop out-of-form youngster Billy Crellin, who had been brought in on loan from Fleetwood on Gilks’ recommendation.

“I’ve know Matt a long, long time and I have the utmost faith and trust in him,” he said. “He hasn’t played a competitive match for a year but the way he trains and the way he coaches, he’s all in and it’s 110 per cent every day.

“I knew he wouldn’t let anybody down and he’s come in today with his voice more than anything else has led the team, got people organised, put people in their places.

“When he’s been called upon, he did what he had to do. He’ll probably be sore in the morning but we’ll take that all day for a clean sheet.”

Evatt saw his side have just 36 per cent possession – their lowest total of the season – but cope admirably with what Salford threw at them.

Eoin Doyle returned from injury to score his third goal of the season and Jordan Turnbull’s second half own goal gave Bolton a lead they never really looked like relinquishing.

“I think we’ve had to roll up our sleeves and dig in at times,” Evatt said. “We had to sacrifice a little bit of possession in the second half and we don’t necessarily like doing that but they didn’t create very much which was pleasing so our space between the lines was really good.

“We adjusted well and I thought the back three and the goalkeeper were magnificent and we knew that they take risks because when they’re trying to build attacks and be expansive and the full-backs are getting high, we knew on transition they were open and the first goal was perfect.

“We won the ball back high up the pitch, Sarce plays forward to Doyle in space and Doyle does what Doyle does and finishes the chance off and throughout the game other than the one that Matt’s saved with his legs in the second half, we created the better opportunities. For all the possession they had, they didn’t really hurt us too much, which was pleasing.”

Wanderers’ back three of Ricardo Santos, Alex Baptiste and Ryan Delaney have been the team’s stand-out performers in recent weeks but Evatt struggled to single out individuals in what was arguably the most complete performance of the season.

“I must say that the back three defended really well,” he said. “Rico is playing out of his skin at the moment. The way he’s playing and leading the team is excellent and the ones in front of him, Sarce, Andrew Tutte, Doyle and Nathan really put in a good shift.

“Gethin’s been out six weeks, trained and got through 90 minutes. They deserve that and all of a sudden, the squad is looking more complete, everyone is back fit.

“It’s competitive and we’ve left five or six players out tonight out of the whole squad but that’s what we need and that’s what we want.

“We need to keep people in one piece and then it should be difficult to get in Bolton Wanderers’ team.

“We’re a big club and all of a sudden, it is difficult to get in our team and when you’re in it, you need to make sure you stay in it because there’s people now waiting in the wings to take your place.”

Evatt had stated that Sarcevic, Jones and Doyle were unlikely to feature against Salford in the build-up to the game but the curveball of naming them on his team-sheet worked perfectly.

“For all the mind games that I said in the press conference on Thursday, we knew that Eoin and Gethin aren’t 100 per cent but we made that call, they got through the game as best they can,” he said.

“For Gethin to play 90 minutes is incredible fitness levels from where he’s been and Eoin was tired but he put a real shift in for the team and when called upon, he got his chance and he took it.”