“FOOTBALL doesn’t always give you what you deserve” – the words of Ian Evatt to his players after their 14-game unbeaten record came to an end on Newport’s unpredictable pitch on Monday.

Wanderers had fashioned a host of chances but their failure to gain a foothold in the game cost dear and Nicky Maynard’s second-half strike put a dent in what has been an impressive late season run.

How the team cope with that setback in South Wales will be the next litmus test.

Evatt will want to put murmurings of an over-reliance on top scorer Eoin Doyle quickly to bed this weekend as his side look to complete a league double against Harrogate and make a return to the automatic promotion slots.

Going into the game at Newport the Whites had been on their longest unbeaten run in 22 years and the performance was enough for the Bolton boss to feel confident no lasting damage will be caused.

“There will be twists and turns,” he said. “We can’t let that one result halt our momentum and halt our train.

“It has been rolling nicely and I haven’t seen anything in that game to make me think any differently.

“Anyone who witnessed the performance would surely agree. And if you ask the Newport manager who said to me after the game that we are by far the best team he has seen, then there is a lot to be positive about.

“There are seven games to go and lots of points to play for. We have to take our frustration and emotion out on Harrogate on Saturday.”

Compared to the camaraderie and social media banter which has flown around post-match in the last couple of weeks, reaction to the defeat at Newport from the dressing room has been understandably muted.

Evatt admits the mood after the final whistle was markedly different.

“They were disappointed, obviously, because they wanted to stay unbeaten for the rest of the season and I think they deserved to with their performance (at Newport),” he said. “But sometimes in football you don’t always get what you deserve.

“We will have a little bit of rest and regroup then take our frustrations out on the opposition for the rest of the season. I am not concerned.”

There had been plenty of talk about the state that Newport’s pitch would be in as they returned to Rodney Parade for the first time in several weeks.

The Exiles had been given special dispensation to play their home games at Cardiff City and give their playing surface a rest after complaints about its quality at the start of the year.

Evatt felt his players coped well in the circumstances but felt the pitch fell way below an acceptable standard.

“I think people have to remember that it was a really difficult playing surface,” he said. “It isn’t really fit for league football.

“The players have produced moments of sheer quality again and again and I think that play deserved goals.

“People can say on Friday against Colchester that we looked a bit toothless, but we didn’t against Newport. We looked like we had cutting edge, we looked like we had goals in us.

“We could create, but we just didn’t take the chances.”

Evatt admitted he had taken a hard line with his players after the goalless draw on Good Friday but did not feel he could do so again after what he saw at Newport.

“I was much more disappointed with what I saw on Friday than I was today and that’s probably strange saying that after a defeat,” he said.

“I think if we perform like that against the rest of the teams we’ve got to face this season we will win most of the games.”

“I just think we were a step off it on Friday and we weren’t doing the things that we coach them to do.

“We have certain guidelines that we expect and non-negotiables and they didn’t reach them on Friday.

“Today there was no question that we got a reaction and we really deserved to win the game.”