IAN Evatt says he was proud of the way Wanderers switched from frustration to focus for their play-off semi-final first leg against Barnsley.

Finally thwarted by Derby County in their chase for an automatic promotion spot in League One on the final day of the season, the Whites had less than a week to shake off the disappointment and focus on their last remaining opportunity to be playing Championship football next season.

The 3-1 win at Oakwell puts them in a strong position for the second leg at home on Tuesday night, and though Evatt knows there is still plenty of work to be done before even thinking about a final at Wembley, he was able to praise his players for the way they went about their business at Oakwell.

“There was a lot of frustration – within the club and from the outside – that we didn’t achieve the autos and great credit to the two that did because they were more consistent than us over the course of the season,” he said.

“We had some really bad fortune with injuries, post-Christmas, and probably drew too many games. But to reset and perform like that here, I am extremely proud of the players.”

Evatt held a team meeting early last week which addressed the fact the club had missed their target of the top two head on – but also accentuated some of the positive notes of the season, and the things he needed his players to continue doing if they are to secure the third promotion spot.

“We spoke about the good things we’ve done this season – and there have been an awful lot of good things,” he said. “This club has progressed, recovering to where is should be, and that has all come from ground zero. There is no quick fix, it was broken top to bottom, and the board have had to really back me and the rest of the structure with finance.

“We have tried to use that smartly and sustainably as best we can. We’re four years into the journey now and I am extremely proud of what we have achieved. Now we have to focus on the next job, the next leg. We can’t get over-excited.

“Barnsley are a team that will always put you under huge pressure and we have to cope with it, and show our football. The home pitch, the home environment is different and hopefully we can show our true colours as we did with the first goal.

“That was gritty, and I am pleased for the players.”