IAN Evatt was pleased to see his Wanderers pass another cup test, putting themselves in a perfect frame of mind for Monday’s crunch clash with Portsmouth in League One.

Dion Charles and Carlos Mendes Gomes scored to put Bolton through to the next round of the Bristol Street Motors Trophy at Port Vale’s expense, stretching an unbeaten run to 11 games in all competitions.

A third goal looked like it had arrived from the penalty spot via Dan Nlundulu but after referee Martin Corlett ordered a retake because of encroachment, the striker saw his effort saved by Jayson Leutweiler and then damaged his hamstring trying to turn in the rebound.

“I thought it was a really professional performance,” Evatt said. “This was a difficult tie, one of the most difficult we could have got in the competition stage we are at.

“They came to play, they were aggressive and physical, they put us under pressure, but I think we dealt with it really well. We were calm and some of our interchanges, passing patterns, were great to see.

“There were lots of positives from tonight, the only negative being Dan (Nlundulu) looks to have damaged his hamstring.

“It was great for Zac (Ashworth) to get some minutes under his belt, great for Carlos (Mendes Gomes) to get on the scoresheet, and that second goal was really well-worked.

“There was a lot to like about that performance.”

Wanderers have also set a new record for the number of goals scored in the calendar year – a benchmark which now stands at 106 with another five games remaining in December.

With 19 different goal-scorers in the squad and top marksman Charles now on 14 for the campaign, Evatt is pleased to see his team is answering criticism that they do not have enough of an attacking threat to sustain an automatic promotion charge.

“This club has been around over 140 years now and no team has managed to score more goals in a single calendar year, so that is great credit to us,” he said. “We have been critiqued at times for not having enough goals, or the strikers not scoring enough, but we have silenced a few with the record we have at the moment and I we still have a few games left to raise the bar further.

“I keep saying to the players that this is what we have to do now, raise the bar further, setting new levels, striving to get better and better.”

Asked whether he could stand back and appreciate some of the football his team had played recently, he added: “I do enjoy watching my team play, there is no denying that. Some of the things we are doing are elite, and I am very proud of that. They are executing things which are difficult to do, high tariff, and hopefully bode well for the future.

“I do think there is more to come, another level to find, more consistency to be had, but I am pleased with what I am seeing on the training pitch and on a matchday. We just have to keep pushing for more.

“There is no getting excited, no getting ahead of ourselves, we want to be the best we can be.”

Wanderers were beaten 6-3 at home by Vale exactly three years ago, a result which Evatt still occasionally references as one of the lowest points in his early managerial tenue.

“I do know because that was the day I had to kiss goodbye to my Batman pants!” he said, having set his supposedly lucky underwear alight after the freakish result.

“What we have done over this time is very special. I do honestly feel like we have only just begun with it all. There is more to be excited about.

“With football you will have dark days. There will be times when you lose football matches and it is about how you respond which defines who you are as a person and what you are as a team. Everything, across the board, every time we have been criticised or critiqued, had questions asked of us, we have always tried to respond in the right way.

“We will never forget that moment, that game, because it is part of the journey we have been on to today.”