IAN Evatt reckons Wanderers put a big marker down for the League One season as they toppled Watford on their own turf.

Goals from Kieran Lee and Dapo Afolayan capped off Bolton’s best performance of the summer so far against a side containing several players who turned out in the Premier League last season.

Pride stung by defeat against Wigan Athletic on Saturday, Evatt said his players did exactly what they set out to do on a sweltering and physically demanding afternoon at Colney.

“I think it’s another step forwards and we wanted to see improvements from the things we’ve been discussing and working on in training. I thought we saw those,” he said of his side’s performance.

“When conditions are as they are and it’s that hot and humid, I think it’s just energy and attitude. It would have been easy for us to come and say ‘do you know what, we’re going to conserve energy and sacrifice the ball a little bit’.

“But that isn’t us and there’s no point practising that because that’s not how we’re going to play in the season. We just said to the players just give us everything, press how we normally press, play with that intensity and if you feel like you’re blowing up we’ll get you off and bring someone else on.

In what proved a surprisingly tactical affair, Wanderers’ pressing game helped them establish a two-goal lead in the first half before Watford started to find their own rhythm.

Joel Dixon made two fine saves from Ismail Sarr to preserve the advantage and the hard graft continued as they went toe-to-toe with their hosts for the rest of the contest.

Evatt said: “We’ve got a really good squad to be able to do that, but the players’ fitness levels are excellent. I thought we kept up our energy and intensity throughout the game and it’s a positive performance.

“Absolutely there was good shape, structure and organisation. These are improvements that we’ve been putting in place on the training pitch. I think we’ve done a lot of work out of possession because that can create you opportunities as well and I think we’ve seen that in pre-season.

“We’ve been scoring goals and creating chances from our pressing strategy. That’s an important part of the game but what really pleased me today was some of our bravery in possession.

“We played through their press and I think the second goal is as good a goal as you’ll see at any level. That’s what we’re capable of but we just need to see that more consistently.” Wanderers’ second goal, scored by Afolayan and created by MJ Williams, summed up a successful afternoon in possession.

“We are trying to invite pressure, invite the press and then where that press comes from, we really attack the space behind it. I think we really did that well in the first half,” Evatt added.

“Watford really struggled to get to grips with it and it was a great second goal.”