WANDERERS’ homework paid off in the play-off first leg as Barnsley’s vulnerability from set pieces was exposed in the win at Oakwell.

Ian Evatt’s side caused problems all night for home keeper Liam Roberts and had one goal from Ricardo Santos ruled out somewhat controversially in the second half before Randell Williams scored direct from a corner in stoppage time – with the help of a clever screen from Cameron Jerome.

Only Stevenage (18) and Derby County (25) have scored more set pieces than Bolton in League One this season. By comparison, only Port Vale (20), Shrewsbury (20) and Leyton Orient (19) have conceded more than Barnsley’s 18 – the majority of which have been in the second half of the season.

Evatt and his coaching staff have improved that side of Wanderers’ game over the last couple of seasons but placed heavy focus on set pieces in the build-up to Friday night’s game.

“We worked really heavily in the week and wanted a couple of different routines,” he explained.

“I thought we looked a threat all night from set plays. It is great when the delivery comes right and people are doing their jobs.

“It is a key part of the game. If you watch Arsenal and some of the goals they score, not only are they one of the best sides in Europe but they are also deadly from set plays and it is the finer details that can make a big difference.”

Set pieces at both ends of the pitch invariably involved captain Ricardo Santos, who caught the eye once again in a game where the pressure was high.

“He’s a top player,” Evatt said. “He is allowed to have off-moments and off-days but when he performs like that he is one of the best centre-halves in this division. We are very fortunate to happen.

“But this was a collective effort, back to front. That what we are about.

“The work out of possession isn’t just about goalkeepers making saves or defenders defending it is whole-team mentality.

“I am just proud of the players’ mentality, not getting up automatically, to throw it all together like that, come here and perform the way we did was something to be proud of.”

Williams’ goal restored a two-goal lead going into the second leg at the Toughsheet, a margin which Evatt felt was warranted given the control his side had enjoyed over the course of the match.

“It felt good because we felt we deserved a two-goal lead in the majority of the game,” he said. “We conceded a poor goal and it was probably the first time on the night that we’d switched off. It changed the momentum and credit to their fans, they rallied the players and put us under some pressure. Nathan has had to make a couple of big saves.”

“But then we calmed down again and got back to what we were doing. In my view we got the third goal we deserved.”

Interest in the second leg was already high, the club’s ticketing system creaking under the weight of season ticket holders looking to secure their seats early last week.

The positive result at Barnsley is likely to convince a few more to come forward and make it an atmosphere to remember – and Evatt is keen to use it to his advantage.

“We trained at the stadium most of the week and seeing the queues of people outside of the stadium was incredible,” he said.

“The feelgood factor is back. Everyone has carried a bit of frustration and disappointment because we all know what this team is capable of doing. Now was the time to regroup and we have managed it.

“We just have to keep that humble, hard-work mentality and mindset.

“We go back to work Sunday and then get focussed for another huge game on Tuesday.

“Our mindset is no different to what it would be in any fixture, we want to try and win. If we can get that first goal and the atmosphere behind us then it will really help.

“This is only half a job done, let’s go and finish it on Tuesday.”