LATE in the evening at Oakwell, the raucous away support long-since filed out into the streets, Dion Charles walked back out of the tunnel to be met by another Wanderers striker legend.

John McGinlay had stayed on after his commentary duties with BBC Radio Manchester to congratulate a fellow goal-getter for his brace on the night, one which helped give Bolton an important 3-1 advantage over Barnsley for Tuesday night’s play-off semi-final second leg.

Charles’s goals also ensured he had hit the 20-mark for the second successive campaign, something which hadn’t happened since the man who was now warmly shaking his hand was in his playing pomp.

McGinlay knows a thing or two about pressure penalties – and it was his spot-kick against Preston North End which got Bolton out of the same division 31 years earlier.

And he would have appreciated the ice-cool nerve showed on Friday night as Charles brushed off Barnsley’s attempts at distraction to drive a powerful effort past Liam Roberts in front of the away end.

“I love it – It’s what I play for, scoring goals, the pressure moments, everyone in the stadium looking at me,” said Charles, asked to describe what feelings were rushing through his mind at the time. “To see it go in the back of the net is such an amazing feeling.”

To the keen-eyed, Charles’s resolve would have appeared all the more impressive. Once the penalty had been awarded by referee Will Finnie for Roberts’ foul on Josh Sheehan, so started the gamesmanship.

Unfortunately for the Tykes defenders, Charles wrote the book on wind-ups.

“I enjoy the little digs and stuff on the pitch, and I’m probably one of the worst for it,” he shrugged. “I walk off smiling and know I have done my job.”

What Wanderers would have achieved in the New Year had Charles avoided a knee injury and been available through March and April is all now speculation. He had been on a relatively barren scoring run in late January and early February but past history suggests it would have been brought to an end quite swiftly.

“I wanted 25 goals and to beat what I got last year,” Charles said. “I think if I didn’t have the injury – I was out for nine weeks or so – I would have broke that.

“It has been a tough couple of months sitting on the sidelines watching the boys. I’m the type of person who wants to play every single game, so the injury came at a really difficult time. I tried my hardest to get back, but it wasn’t to be.

“I knew getting back when I did, a few games before the play-offs, I could get up to speed and show everyone what I can do again.

“You give me the ball in the box and I’ll score goals.”

Charles was quick to credit his “brilliant” strike partner Aaron Collins, who stepped into the role of chief goal-getter in his absence. The burgeoning partnership will be an important one if Ian Evatt’s side is to first reach Wembley, but then succeed in reaching the Championship on May 18.

Collins played a supporting role in a well-worked first goal at Barnsley, linking up with Josh Dacres-Cogley and Paris Maghoma to supply a perfect ball into the box.

“That type of team goal is what we work on every day on the training ground,” he said. “We get to that position so many times in games and it’s just the last bit – but it clicked there and I was the lucky one on the end of it.”

Leading 3-1 and with their home form so strong this season, Wanderers are in an undisputably strong position for the second leg. But the dressing room rhetoric hinted that the gameplan will not alter drastically, and that Evatt’s side will once again make attack their best form of defence.

“It’s only half time now,” Charles said. “We can’t get too ahead of ourselves.

“They are a really good side and they showed they can hurt us if we switch off. We need to work on a few things and then go again Tuesday.

“We’ll have a gameplan, we have that two-goal lead. But the way we are as a team, the way the gaffer works, he won’t let us sit back. That isn’t us anyway.

“We play fast, counter attacking, free-flowing football. We just have to work hard and try to get another win on Tuesday. We’re only halfway there.”

Charles also made a point to address the supporters, whose backing had been ferocious at Oakwell, but who could now play an even bigger role for the second leg at the Toughsheet.

“They are brilliant on every away trip but we need them massively now for the home game on Tuesday,” he said. “I sometimes don’t think they realise how much of an effect they have and how important they are to us.

“When opposition players see them in full force it gives us an advantage. It gives us the willingness to run the extra yard for them.

“It is going to be vital that they are up for it.”