IAN Evatt felt the seven-goal whitewash against Exeter City represented the best performance of his time as manager at Wanderers – but admitted: “The hard work starts here!”

Bolton leapt to the top of the League One table with their biggest league home win since 1997, and a comprehensive result which will no doubt have sent shockwaves around the division.

Leading 2-0 at the break with goals from Jack Iredale and Victor Adeboyejo, the Whites shifted up another gear after the break with Dion Charles scoring twice between strikes from Paris Maghoma, Kyle Dempsey and Dan Nlundulu.

Evatt felt the performance exhibited a merciless side of his players that had not been shown this season after the led games at the break.

“I think the most pleasing aspect was that ruthless nature that we showed in the second half,” he said. “We have all been wanting us to do that and everyone could see that we are capable, but to go and actually do it is something we’re really pleased about.

“In the first 15-20 minutes it was almost like finding our rhythm again, but once we did I thought some of the play was scintillating. It was great to score from another play we dialled up at Lostock too.

“I was pleased for Dan (Nlundulu). He was emotional at full time because he has wanted that, he wants to please everyone and build a connection with the fanbase that other players have got. It will take time and he has been through the mill.

“But everyone, even the subs, you can see the strength of the squad when everyone is fully fit.

“This is the best group of players I have worked with as a manager, professionally, but also personally. The togetherness is exceptional.

“We have just said there now that the hard work starts now. We have finally got to top spot and things are only going to get harder from here on in. We need to go again, step up again, because we are nowhere near the finished article.”

Wanderers climbed above Portsmouth, who lost at home to Blackpool, and Oxford, who were beaten at Cheltenham Town, to lead the table for the first time since August.

“It feels good but it only feel really good at the end of April and in May, the end of the season,” Evatt noted, with a word of warning to his players and supporters.

“We have done nothing yet. This was a really good performance and some of our football was outstanding at this level of football but the hard work really starts now.

“It is not about being top in November, it is about being top in April.”

Wanderers had won seven games in a row leading up to the international break, and everyone wondered if they could maintain that momentum a fortnight later.

An eighth straight win – matching a best record since December 1990 – and a sixth straight clean sheet provided a quite unequivocal answer.

“I think some of the media guys had a perception that some of the performances post days-off haven’t been great,” Evatt added. “I disagree with that, I think we were good against Northampton for large parts of the game and obviously at Reading we should have been out of sight.

“We wanted to make sure at half time that we didn’t slip back into that sloppy narrative. We showed it today and I think it was probably the best and most fluid performance I have seen since being manager of the club which is a good sign because I know there is more to come. I can see it in the players, we are driving standards on a daily basis.

“The group, and that includes the 18 and those outside it, are hungry. But the hard work starts now.”