IT has been a while since Wanderers were able to bring out ‘Plan A’ – and Ian Evatt does not expect to be able to do so at Carlisle United this weekend – but he maintains that the alternatives are starting to improve.

Whether up against Premier League opponents in the FA Cup or facing high-presses and wild weather in the league, January has been a genuine test of what else Bolton can offer beyond their normal possession-based game.

Evatt took perverse satisfaction in taking three points against Cheltenham on Tuesday night, not in how well his side did on the ball, but how well they defended off it.

And for a team often criticised for their ability to match physical and direct opposition, a clean sheet against the rejuvenated Robins was just what the doctor ordered after a drab day at Leyton Orient the previous weekend.

“A strange part of me really appreciates those ugly wins,” Evatt said. “I used to love that as a defender, just digging in and defending the box, backs against the wall. They can feel better than the wins where you completely dominate and blow teams away.

“What we have done as a team is developed into one that can win ugly and play in different ways, to have success over a football season you have to be able to do that.

“Tuesday was a victory and that is all that matters. There were parts of it that I did like and parts of it that I didn’t but that applies to most games.

“Can we play better? Absolutely. But the most important thing is that we are in a fantastic position.”

Wanderers fans should not expect a tactical U-turn. Evatt intends to continue trying to play a style he feels is future-protecting the team if they get promotion to the Championship.

But as the season progresses, opposition managers are trying different ways of knocking the Whites out of their stride, which has proven a real test for the Bolton boss.

“The preferred method so far has us winning the most games with the least amount played, so we’re doing alright,” he said. “We’ll stick to our method and processes.

“Obviously there is always room for improvement and as the season progresses people will adapt and try different pressing strategies against us and we have to find the right solutions.

“We have seen a lot of that 5-2-3 press of late and sometimes we have been successful against that and sometimes we haven’t, so we’re working very hard to try and break that down.

“For me, it is down to us and our performance level. If we can do what I think we can consistently then we will have no issues.”

Opposing sides have also offered backhanded compliments to Bolton by switching their own preferred styles and formations – giving Evatt and his players something to think about in-game.

“You always have to look at things differently and it is my job as a coach and manager to prepare players as best I can,” he said. “That can only be done on the information we are given.

“We could watch the last 15 games that Carlisle have prepared and start a certain way, thinking they are going to do one thing, but then they could change on matchday and the players have to understand what the answers are – and that is my job as a manger to make sure they do it.

“Are they there? Absolutely not. But are they getting better at it? Yes they are.

“We’ll continue to strive for that improvement and make sure we give them the right options and solutions.”