IAN Evatt joked that his players needed to ‘cheer up’ after an eight-game winning streak came to an end at Oxford United.

Wanderers might have felt a touch of disappointment that after creating several decent second-half opportunities, they did not manage to take all three points from the Kassam Stadium.

Nathan Baxter made two key saves before the break, preserving what was a record-equalling seventh successive clean sheet, but Bolton finished strong and Evatt felt they could have got more from the game.

“There’s nothing but positives to take, really,” he said. “First half we had all the control, they had one moment of transition where Nathan made a good save and then a set play but other than it was just us figuring out where the space was on the pitch, really.

“Their pressing strategy was quite good, they wanted to play on the counter attack, and we just needed to figure it out.

“At half time we told them where the space was and second half was just complete dominance, I thought, we had them penned in for large spells, and we created some good chances. Unlike Saturday we didn’t take one.

“Against one of the best teams in this league, to dominate the second half like we did, I think there are loads of positives to take and on another day we score two or three.”

Wanderers were on their best winning streak since 1990 but they were forced to work hard by an Oxford side playing their first home game under new boss Des Buckingham.

Evatt said his players should not feel any sort of remorse for what was a largely encouraging display.

“The players are really down in there and I’ve said to them they need to sort their lives out and start being positive again, stop the body language and get back with the vibrant energy because there is nothing negative about that performance. It shows the standards that they are keeping at the moment,” he added.

“I am pleased to see that but if we keep playing like that, especially at a difficult place like this, we’ll win more games than we don’t.

“There was loads to like about that second half, we’d had all the territory, all the dominance, it felt like a matter of time. It just wasn’t our night.

“It was another clean sheet and great credit to the way we are defending at the moment. We are managing the ball to stop the opponents. I’m really positive about that performance.”

Wanderers stay top on goal difference from Portsmouth, who have a chance to return to the summit on Saturday when they face Northampton Town.

Evatt’s side welcome Harrogate Town in the FA Cup second round but he won’t be too concerned if Pompey nudge ahead before the two sides meet on Monday week at Fratton Park.

He said: “It only counts at the end of the season. For us, we’ll just trust the process and continue to keep trying to perform like that, and if we do we won’t be far away come the end of the season.

“I think if we end up finishing above Oxford as well, we won’t be far away.

“They are a team with good players, dangerous players, and I think we managed their threat for most of the evening very well. I am just disappointed we didn’t get the goal we deserved second half.”