FA CUP foes Harrogate Town have history with Ian Evatt – which is why the Bolton boss is urging caution as the two sides meet at the Toughsheet Stadium today.

Back in spring 2020, the North Yorkshire side had been four points behind Evatt’s Barrow at the top of the National League, with the two sides still to play at Wetherby Road.

When the season was abandoned because of the pandemic, Barrow were crowned champions, and after a nervous wait to see what would happen with the final promotion place Harrogate were able to beat Notts County to secure a place in the EFL for the first time.

Evatt believes his opposite number Simon Weaver – the longest serving manager in the league – deserves huge credit for the job he has done ever since.

“Looking back it was neck and neck, we still had them to play and it was going to be a close-run thing,” he said. “Simon did a terrific job to get them into the league but an even better one to keep them there and stabilise at this level.

“Simon’s teams are always energetic, they play front-foot football, and after watching them over the last few weeks I have seen the same principles. It still looks like his team.

“I am looking forward to the game but I won’t be taking it lightly, and nor will the players. We are very, very respectful of Harrogate.

“It will be great to see them, I just hope we don’t give them too good a day out.”

Evatt chalked up his first win as Bolton manager against Harrogate, who were temporarily playing their football at Doncaster’s Keepmoat Stadium back in September 2020.

“That game at Doncaster was my first win and I didn’t think it would ever come – and I’m sure someone will be quick enough to say I had the worst record in charge after five games. But we have done alright since then,” he said.

“We are looking forward to the game and to fighting on three fronts. We are going to have fixture congestion, hopefully, if we progress to the next round. But if you want to be successful then it is par for the course.

“It will be a really competitive game, we know that teams raise their game when they come here. Harrogate are well coached and I have played against Simon’s teams quite a lot, we will need to make sure we do the same things consistently as we have over the last couple of months.”