IF Wanderers manage to keep Oxford United from scoring at the Kassam Stadium on Tuesday night they will equal a record that has stood unchallenged for 123 years.

Not since the Boer War was raging, the Labour Party was assembled, or football giants like Ajax Amsterdam or Bayern Munich were first formed has a Bolton team kept seven consecutive clean sheets, which is the latest statistical morsel on offer in what has been a very rich run.

With a squad virtually at full strength and confidence as high as it has ever been, the biggest enemy facing Ian Evatt’s side would presumably be complacency – but based on the messages coming out of the camp since the 7-0 hammering of Exeter City, that too should not be a problem.

“That all starts with me,” Ian Evatt reflected at the training ground on Monday morning. “I have to make sure that the players’ feet stay on the ground.

“We drive standards and they will tell you that. I read an interview that Josh Dacres-Cogley did with you last week that said we come down on them like a tonne of bricks on the training ground if things drop.

“We have to set new levels, never let them drop. You cannot turn that tap on and off, it must stay on all of the time.

“We need to be bang at it, every single day, to give ourselves a chance. We have had a good start and put ourselves into a strong position but there is a lot of football to be played yet and we can’t forget that.”

Bolton’s approach has been almost mechanical in their recent eight-game run, the gameplan looking well-drilled but also more flexible than it had in the past. The Whites have been posed different questions by physical sides like Wycombe and Shrewsbury, or those with a more virtuous footballing approach, like Charlton or Blackpool, and found a way to get results in each case.

Oxford unquestionably fall in the latter category. A possession-based side who share goals right around the team, and who had been wedged in second spot behind Portsmouth for the previous nine games up to the weekend when defeat at Cheltenham saw them drop out of the automatic promotion spots.

Evatt anticipates a game similar in style to the recent one against Blackpool – whose win against Portsmouth on Saturday opened the door for Bolton to lead the league table.

“I felt at the time when we played Blackpool it was a high-quality game for the division, and weirdly I have talked to four or five different managers now who have watched it back, and they all commented to say what a good game it really was,” Evatt said.

“I think the game against Oxford is going to be similar.

“They are going to be well-organised, well-coached, fluid, they will rotate and have the ball so we will have to be more comfortable out of possession, which isn’t really our thing.

“We hope, also, that we can ask them questions, make them uncomfortable.

“It is a really difficult game but we are in good form and we are looking forward to it.”

In each of Evatt’s three full seasons Wanderers have found themselves chasing down the leading pack but they now find themselves in the position they have coveted.

Will that require a different mindset? The Bolton boss is confident that he can keep his team pushing forward.

“We have to keep raising the bar, it is as simple as that,” he said. “We have worked for three-and-a-half years to get to this position and now that we are here, it is almost like starting again. We need a new level, set a new bar and standards.

“I think we are prepared to do that – it is what I am seeing in the dressing room, on the grass, on matchdays. We have to prove we can make that next step.”

Saturday’s comprehensive win against Exeter sent ripples around League One, spelling out that Wanderers really do mean business this season.

Evatt, though delighted, was still able to pick out parts of the match where his players could improve, going over them in detail on Monday morning in the meeting room at Lostock before the main training session began.

“We’re still not quite where I want us to be,” he said. “Yes, Saturday was probably the best performance I have seen from any of my teams I have managed, the quality and detail.

“But that is a one-off. We can’t sit there and admire it, we must push on and improve upon it.

“Can we replicate that level on a consistent basis now? Can that be the new standard?

“Those are the questions we all have to ask ourselves if we are going to keep getting results to stay at the top end of this league.”