IT may take a while for victory in the play-off semi-final to sink in for Ian Evatt.

A night that should have been straightforward for Wanderers turned out to be anything but – and the Bolton boss found himself in the unusual position of dishing out some criticism to his players despite them winning through to Wembley in the end.

A 5-4 aggregate win over two legs would have been accepted readily before a ball was kicked at Oakwell last Friday but Evatt reminded his players that they could not afford to take such risks in the final.

“I think their ears will still be ringing from what I had to say at full-time,” he said. “I had to tell them the truth. In the second half we had to be better than that.

“The first half was the true us, the second half we made a sloppy error that gave them momentum.

“Credit to Barnsley I thought they were excellent. They showed great character and spirit. They never gave up.

“I said before the game they are the type of team that always ask you questions. For us, it is another learning curve, the game was going nowhere, we were well ahead, then a simple mistake gives them the momentum again.

“We didn’t react well to the goal. They had opportunities and great credit to them.

“We had a great chance to make it 3-1 but George (Thomason) probably chose the wrong option and should have probably taken the shot.

“In the second half, it was nail-biting, but it didn’t need to be that way. It is almost an anti-climax. But we have to enjoy it.”

Evatt, his staff and the players will be back on the training ground on Thursday to start preparations for the final, where a place in next season’s Championship is up for grabs.

Though the manner of Tuesday night’s result felt somewhat anti-climactic, the Bolton boss is determined to make the most of the opportunity.

“We have done enough over the two games to be there and now are one game from our target,” he said. “We will enjoy the next day or two and then get set for what will be a big week of preparation.

“It was probably similar to the game last Friday. We had control and the game was going nowhere.

“But Barnsley continuously ask you questions. They never gave up and showed unbelievable spirit.

“It was just a mistake; they always seem to capitalise on mistakes and put us through the mill at the end.

“We have got there. But it is going to take me a while to enjoy it.

“For us, it is not about celebrating too much. But we have got to enjoy it because it is difficult to get there.

“It is the best place to win and the worst place to lose. It does feel close. This was our aim and ambition and now we are just one game away from it.”