Nerves on and off the pitch were clearly evident in Wanderers’ 2-0 defeat against Ipswich Town – but manager Ian Evatt has called for the club to “stick together” in a crucial stretch of the season.

More than 20,000 fans packed into the University of Bolton Stadium yesterday to see the Whites struggle against a side which, until recently, had been on level par in the league table.

Ipswich are now hoping to catch up with Plymouth and Sheffield Wednesday in the automatic promotion race, while Bolton are looking anxiously over their shoulder at Wycombe in seventh spot with nine games remaining.

The performance against Ipswich was indicative of a team starting to struggle for confidence, Evatt admitted: “Whenever we don’t reach the levels we are capable of reaching it is a concern to me,” he said. “I believe in these players and this team and I believe they will bounce back.

“For now we need to stay concentrated on the job, stay confident, which at the moment I can feel a bit of that draining away.

“Some of our playing out patterns in the first half I could sense the crowd getting nervous and it makes everyone else nervous. It hinders us.

“I want us all to stick together. Sticky spells are tough but it is how we manage those spells which will really define the rest of the season.”

Wanderers’ record against the top sides, particularly at home, has not been good since their return to League One and few would argue that Ipswich did not deserve their victory.

Evatt felt the psychology of the game could have tipped in his side’s favour had Dion Charles converted from the spot shortly after half time.

“It is another one of these big games where we have lost the moments. It has happened a lot this season, and last season,” he said.

“I don’t think our performance was good today, I don’t think we were great, but we did have a good chance early on and had it gone in it would have lifted everything.

“There was then a massive chance at the start of the second half when we really had the momentum and were on top. That really drained everyone and when you don’t take those moments and then make the mistake we did for the first one, then concede from a set play, you don’t win these games.

“Ipswich don’t concede two or three, it just doesn’t happen. It is frustrating and we have a lot of young players out there, some of whom have had a real dip in form. We need to get them back to where they were.

“Everyone is disappointed, myself included, players and fans. I have said it a lot, in challenging times you have to stick together and we’re going through a rough spell at the moment but it doesn’t mean the wheels have come off, we just have to reset and go again.”