IAN Evatt doesn’t expect the Carlisle branch of his fan club to be out in force this afternoon.

His history with Cumbrian rivals Barrow still relatively fresh in the mind, Evatt has had a rough ride in each his previous two visits to Brunton Park – even though one match was in lockdown and the other a pre-season friendly!

Wanderers hope to make happier memories this time around, knowing victory could return them to the automatic promotion spots.

Weather forecasts say there will be a moderate breeze around Carlisle on Saturday afternoon, which will make a pleasant change from the previous two league games. Evatt – who knows the Cumbrian microclimate better than most – isn’t fooled.

“I know exactly what it is like up there and they have their own wind machines that they’ll no doubt switch on at 3pm,” he told The Bolton News.

“We know what we are going into. There is nothing we can do or change about that.

“I don’t think because of history and the Barrow connections that they are my biggest admirers – but then there aren’t many that are.

“It is always an intense and intimidating place with a strong home crowd. We have to go and play our best football and hope it is enough to get us a result.”

Evatt can count on the support of yet another sold out away end. Nearly 3,000 folk are making the journey for the club’s first competitive game in front of both sets of fans since 1988.

“It has been amazing away from home,” Evatt said. “The fans travel, no matter where we are, on whatever day, and we are very thankful for that.

“We absolutely need their support, they are our 12th man. They provide us with a lift when we need it and we try to lift them if they need it. It is a unified effort and it has to be that way.”

Carlisle have been in the bottom six since the very early weeks of the season but the club has been buoyed by a recent takeover from the American-backed Castle Sports Group, who have quickly invested in new signings, including ex-Wanderers favourite, Josh Vela.

The Cumbrians have already humbled Bolton at the Toughsheet Stadium this season and Evatt expects another awkward game against a side who now fancy their chances of survival.

“They are trying to improve and Paul, who is an experienced manager, will know what he wants,” he said. “When you are in the bottom four it is usually the time to make some changes to try and find some results. I have no doubt it will be a tough game.

“Survival will still be their goal and it is getting competitive down there. We saw on Tuesday how hard Cheltenham were fighting on Tuesday and they have had some great results. Carlisle are fighting hard too, Reading are starting to pick up results again. It is a difficult league and hard work – just when you think you have cracked it and you can predict results, some strange ones get thrown in like they did the other night. Thankfully it wasn’t us that time.

“You have to respect every opponent because they are fighting for their lives. But we are fighting for something as well and we need to match their endeavour.”

Carlisle would dearly love a double against Bolton to spark that push for safety – and once more Evatt comes up against a side well rested since their last game, a 2-1 defeat at Barnsley on January 16.

By comparison, Wanderers had to work hard for three points against Cheltenham on Tuesday night, picking up injuries and suspensions as a result.

“We have a huge target on our back and people want to beat us,” Evatt said. “That’s great, we just have to make sure we play as well as we can because it’ll give us the best chance of a result. There are no guarantees in football, there never are, but we have to make sure we switch on, do the basics, and then hopefully our identity takes over.

“It has been a long month. Having 20 games left and only three months to play them seems strange and scary to me.

“For us, we have to keep going because we are in a great position. If anyone would have offered us this at the start of the season there isn’t anyone in Bolton who would have said no.”

That Wanderers emerged with three points against Cheltenham on a night where they had not been at their best was a big boost, says Evatt.

“Football is a strange game and I wish I had all the answers – hopefully one day I will have!

“One bad result and performance, it is amazing what that can do to confidence levels, and the feeling and exterior of the club too. We have won five out of six league games, I think we are on a really good run of form, but that one defeat can drain belief away and that happened to the players.

“I think that result will do them the world of good. All week we have been trying to get them back to where they were, so fingers crossed we see that on Saturday.”