NATHAN Baxter is surprised by the progress he has made since signing for Bolton Wanderers.

The former Chelsea keeper arrived in the summer with a solid CV, which included a spell in the Championship on loan with Hull City.

He turned down opportunities to play at a higher level – and indeed in Europe with Maccabi Haifa – to try and help Ian Evatt’s side get back into the second tier.

But playing in a possession-based side whose style harked back to his early days at Stamford Bridge has brought more out of the 25-year-old than even he expected.

“At Hull City it was very different,” he explained. “I definitely felt there were a lot of games there where I might concede two or three but still make four or five great saves. Here, I might not even touch the ball but, like last week against Exeter, everyone is like ‘great clean sheet’.

“For me, my job is more than just the saves. Yes, it is important I step up with them when needed and I think there has been huge improvement on that since I came in. I have to thank the gaffer for that because he spends a lot of time going over videos with me, working on the training ground, and I feel like I have learned a lot, which I wasn’t really expecting.

“This is a huge club in League One and my mindset was just to get promoted and get the club back to where it belongs. I almost thought it would be a season we’d have to ‘get through’ but I am so happy with how much I have developed and improved.

“I have to thank the Gaffer and Gillo (Matt Gilks) my goalkeeper coach, particularly on the playing out from the back and there is more to come from everyone. Last week was a glimpse of it all clicking but I think it will continue to get better and better. It is a good time to be a Bolton fan right now.”

Wanderers kept a seventh consecutive clean sheet on Tuesday night, which equalled a club record which has stood since Queen Victoria was still on the throne.

Not since 1900 has a Bolton side been so frugal with the goals they concede – and though Baxter underlined that he was not taking the credit, he was more than happy to be part of a team which is now showing real promotion form.

“I don’t like giving credit to the strikers because they usually give the defenders and goalies a hard time but the clean sheets do come from everyone, and it is important to note that,” he said.

“Games like Blackpool and Exeter I didn’t have a lot to do, so credit should go to the defenders. On social media the goalkeeper gets highlighted the most.

“I broke the club record at Yeovil when I was younger, so it is nice to get there with Bolton as well, but it is more important to get promoted. If I get a record and don’t then get promoted it won’t matter one bit.

“The gaffer talks a lot about making history at this football club, which I really like. I am glad we got some of that, so well done to everyone, but everyone knows what our goal really is.”

Baxter produced two big saves in the first half – the first to deny Stan Mills one-on-one, the second to claw a dipping drive from Cameron Branagan from under his own crossbar, a moment which drew begrudging applause from even the home fans at the Kassam Stadium.

“I have made a few good saves in my time but that might have been my best one for Bolton,” he said.

“There have been a couple of decent ones, but I think when you come away from home against a side in the top three that’s where I earn my money.

“I probably play more of a role than fans realise at times with the way we play out from the back but this was the sort of game where it’s important I perform – the one-on-one in the first half and then there was a hell of a strike from (Cameron) Branagan. I was really pleased with them.”

Baxter celebrated both saves with his team-mates, knowing their importance at a crucial stage of the game. But the emotion was also intensified knowing he had been training for exactly those sort of situations with keeper coach Gilks at Lostock.

“It is a natural reaction – it was the same as the save I’d made at Burton when the guy should have scored in an open goal,” he said. “That is what you work all week to do.

“That sort of save, the first one, I have to give some credit to Gillo because we have been working really hard on some technical aspects and decision-making. His experience has been invaluable and, honestly, I am so lucky to have a goalie coach like that. Some of the saves I feel have been made because of the work we have done.”