ONLY two Oxford United players made more passes than Nathan Baxter in Tuesday night’s game at the Kassam Stadium.

The Wanderers keeper has become an important cog in the tactical wheel for Ian Evatt, joining in with his defenders during spells of possession to help get the team further up field.

Baxter caught the eye with two big saves in the first half at Oxford but his work on the ball was also important and 21 of his 56 passes were made outside the penalty box.

Becoming the 'sweeper-keeper’ at the back is not a new experience for the former Chelsea man, who grew up at Stamford Bridge playing possession-based football. But he admits some of the tasks now being sent his way are a new experience.

“I feel like I am developing and improving as a goalkeeper, which I’ll be honest I didn’t expect when I came here, certainly not as much as I have, not necessarily with my quality but with decision-making and style of play,” he said.

The Bolton News: Nathan Baxter's touches against Exeter City - including one in the centre circle!Nathan Baxter's touches against Exeter City - including one in the centre circle! (Image: NQNW)

“I was on the ball in the centre-circle against Exeter, which I have never had in my career for any team. I have played for teams that play out from the back but not in the style that we play, so I feel I have learned so much and made such a big improvement.

“It was always going to take time, a completely new style of play always will, but I do want to thank the gaffer because he spends a lot of time with me on that.

“I have never had a manager do that, normally because you have a goalie coach you are kind of left to yourselves. But he takes so much time with me going through clips and trying to develop, it is such a nice feeling as a player when you feel like a manager is helping you improve. Not only is it important you win games, that’s the main thing, as a young player you also want to develop and it is such a good environment to come into every day.

“I can’t speak highly enough of Gillo and what he does, it has been amazing.”

Wanderers have kept seven successive clean sheets in all competitions, which equals a club record set in 1900 during the final year of Queen Victoria’s reign.

The legendary J W Sutcliffe was in goal the last time Bolton managed seven in a row, the all-round sporting Yorkshireman who is also the last player to represent England at both football and rugby union.

Baxter has been in goal for six of the seven games, with Joel Coleman stepping in for the Bristol Street Motors Trophy game at Stockport County, and says the plaudits should be shared beyond the goalkeeping department.

“The clean sheets are credit to everyone – the staff and the way they set us up, the boys, it isn’t just me. Some games I earn my money, some are more quiet and it is important to acknowledge that,” he said.

“But obviously I am really proud being a part of it. It isn’t easy.

“Clean sheets are a bit like buses, you can spend a while without one coming along and you always think how tough it is to get one.

“We want to make history at this football club but the thing that will make me proudest is playing in the Championship next year.”