CARLISLE United is never an easy place to play… it isn’t even an easy place to get into!

Before Wanderers even set foot on the pitch the team coach had been sent on a magical mystery tour round the local vicinity thanks to traffic relative to the home club’s biggest home gate since 2008.

Even a police escort ended in farce, the team bus brought into the wrong side of the ground and unable to turn around, then forced to reverse back through the fan zone at a snail’s pace.

Worried that they would be late for the warm-up, Evatt and his team decamped and found their own way into the building in what Ian Evatt later described as an “eventful” experience.

Thankfully, things went a lot better when they did make it on to the field of play.

This was Wanderers back at something like their best. Completely dominant in the first half, they should have been more than two goals to the good.

Zac Ashworth and Paris Maghoma put the Whites into a commanding position from which there should have been no way back for Paul Simpson’s struggling side. But this being Bolton, there has to be some element of drama and they gave nearly 3,000 travelling fans a fright by dropping deeper and protecting that lead after half time, allowing Carlisle to snatch a goal and spread a little hope around Brunton Park’s old-fashioned terraces that a draw could be salvaged.

The Bluebirds goal seemed to focus minds, and mercifully Bolton finished with a ruthless flourish. Cumbria-born Kyle Dempsey leading the charge, seemingly motivated by the stick he was getting from his boyhood club.

Nat Ogbeta, signed just 24 hours earlier on loan from Swansea, scored a forth deep into stoppage time with what amounted to his fourth touch of the game. By the final whistle, he was orchestra leader in front of the packed Waterworks Terrace, with his new club back in the automatic promotion spots.

Scrappy though the win against Cheltenham was the previous Tuesday night, it did seem to lift the mental fog that had mysteriously enveloped Evatt’s players since the poor result at Leyton Orient.

Josh Sheehan and Paris Maghoma were un-trackable, dropping into pockets of space that gave Wanderers a continual forward momentum.

The day belonged to Dempsey, though, and the midfielder who had been mercilessly jeered from the warm-up, clearly had a point to prove against the club who had given him his big break in professional football.

Convicted of assault after an incident at a nightclub in nearby Maryport back in the summer of 2022, Dempsey has worked hard to restore his reputation with Bolton. He has been backed to the hilt by the club’s ownership and in particular his manager and his return to Cumbria was never going to pass by without comment.

The level of abuse came as some surprise, however, and the normally calm and collected midfielder was quick to raise his disappointment when he spoke to the press after the game.

There was also redemption for young defender Ashworth, who has struggled to make a compelling case for inclusion on the left side since he returned from injury.

With Randell Williams out of action until March with a hamstring injury, Wanderers’ move to bring in Ogbeta from Swansea did not look like good news for the 21-year-old, who is keen to impress enough for his own loan move from West Brom to become a permanent one in the summer.

This was his most convincing 90 minutes to date, however, and regardless of how much he ‘meant’ the opening goal – a side-footed lob over keeper Harry Lewis – he then laid-off an assist for Maghoma several minutes later and used the ball intelligently all afternoon.

Ogbeta still ensured some headlines with that late, late goal, and his pedigree suggests he will find a way into the line-up somehow, but Ashworth can do little more.

Carlisle had shown very little in the first half to suggest they could haul themselves back into it, other than a flicked header from Paul Huntington which gave Nathan Baxter a little flicker of concern.

Wanderers allowed themselves to be penned in after half time, however, Sheehan and Maghoma suddenly withdrawing into deeper positions and the supply line to Dion Charles and Victor Adeboyejo becoming less crafted, more hopeful.

Neither of Bolton’s strikers had much chance to add to their own goal tally. For the first 20 minutes of the second half it was all they could do to touch the ball.

When Carlisle sub Jordan Gibson pounced on an unlucky deflection off Sheehan there were a few anxious looks in the away end. Results elsewhere in League One made this a must win, and for the first time on the day the result looked in some doubt.

There were some looks of frustration in the Bolton dugout, too. Carlisle had launched their attack down the left with a throw taken well out of position, but the damage was done.

Evatt decided to meet his team halfway. If they were intent on going direct then he would give them something to aim at in Jon Dadi Bodvarsson – or Bodvarssondson, as the confused match announcer had him down – and Cameron Jerome.

Both of the more physical front men made an impact. Jerome had a couple of chances, Bodvarsson had a goal wrongly ruled out for offside, and with a platform from which to build Bolton suddenly got their groove back.

Dempsey got the goal his performance deserved, Ogbeta then put the icing on the cake with a fourth in stoppage time.

Portsmouth’s late goal at Port Vale had dulled the chants of “we’re top of the league” but not the party atmosphere.

There was a nice moment when Nathan Baxter pushed young team-mate Ashworth forward for some of the adulation, underlining what a good dynamic Evatt has got going here.

Wanderers had not won at Carlisle since 1988 and they had every right to enjoy the moment. Imagine now, if they can end a 47-year wait for a win at Blackpool on Tuesday night?