AS Wanderers rocketed to the top of the League One table with a seven-goal blitz against Exeter City, celebration came with a note of caution from Ian Evatt.

An eighth straight win, complete with a sixth consecutive clean sheet, ensured that Bolton leapfrogged Oxford United and Portsmouth to climb to the summit for the first time since August.

But as comprehensive as Saturday’s victory was, Evatt refuses to allow himself or his players to get carried away with recent form, knowing there are huge tests on the immediate horizon.

Away games at Oxford and Pompey await, either side of an FA Cup second round meeting with Harrogate Town, and Evatt remains convinced that there is still improvement to be gained from a squad in a rampant run of form.

“Now the hard work starts,” he told The Bolton News. “That type of result, the run we have been on, the target on our back gets bigger and bigger. We just have to keep stepping up and embracing that challenge.

“We have two very big league games coming up now at Oxford and then Portsmouth and we’ll have to step up again but there is even more in this group of players, I am absolutely certain of it.

“It is great being at the top of the table, and we’ll enjoy this result, but you win nothing by being top of the table in November. We want to be there at the end of the season and we’ll have to work very, very hard for that to happen.”

Evatt’s side has now taken 38 points from 17 games and plundered 56 goals in all competitions – the third-highest total at this stage of the season in the club’s history.

Automatic promotion has always been Bolton’s aim, and performances like the one against Exeter are starting to give fans belief.

“Historically my teams have always finished seasons well, so it is nice to get off to a decent start,” Evatt said.

“This is a work in progress and while it is great that we get results and performances like this, we know in our heart that there is a lot more hard work to come.

“We all know that this club belongs at a higher level of football but it is fine saying it, we need to speak it into existence and do the work to get there. That is going to be really tough but we are ready for it.”

Evatt also had a word of praise for striker Dan Nlundulu, who supplied the seventh goal of the afternoon.

The former Southampton man had endured a tough start to his Bolton career since making last season’s loan move permanent in the summer, enduing more than his fair share of criticism.

Evatt hopes the youngster can now start to realise his potential.

“He cares about this club, he cares about the fans, he cares about his team-mates, he just wants it so bad. And, yeah, he has had a rough time,” the manager said.

“But as I have said many times when you go through rough times in your life it shapes who you are as a person. It is always how you come through it.

“Dan has had adversity but he is showing signs now that he is coming out the other side. He is a very talented player and we need to get him into a place and space where he can put it all together because if he does, everybody else had better watch out.

“He wants to be supported. We are all supporting him and you could see what it meant for the other players when he scored. He is a really popular member of this group.

“As I have said before the togetherness in this camp is exceptional and we need to keep it that way because having a good culture and environment is undervalued and underestimated in football. For me, it is the most important thing. The players have to want to do it for each other, staff, fans, the club itself – and you can see yourself that this group really does.”