Ian Evatt labelled Wanderers’ 2-0 defeat against Oxford in the play-off final “up with our worst performance of the season”.

Josh Murphy bagged a first-half brace as the Whites missed out promotion to the Championship in front of 70,000 people at Wembley.

“It’s really tough,” Evatt told The Bolton News. “We were unrecognisable, we are normally a fast, energetic team. Today, we were the opposite of that from minute one.

“There wasn’t any one player really, it was a collective thing. There is not one player in white today who can come away today thinking we have won our individual duels and given our best version of ourselves.

“It is baffling really, I would put that up with our worst performance of the season, and on the biggest stage. Great credit to them, I thought they nullified us and showed good energy.

“We know what the game would be, we knew they would be hard to beat – mid-block, ready to jump and counter-attack fast. That was everything we had practiced for but we just didn’t execute at all.”

The Whites failed to register a single shot on target during the contest. When asked what he put it down to, the manager replied: “I don’t know, is the answer.

“I think there is that much wrong that is it hard to point your finger at one particular thing. It wasn’t in moments or spells, it was all game and it was everybody, which I can only put down to pressure and fear maybe.

“Mentally, I don’t think we were tough and strong enough today. When you come in here, you have not really had time to reflect and think about everything.

“The one thing I would say, from minute one, we looked slow and loose with the ball. That is everything we are not.”

Evatt says the result must be “seen as failure” but refused to pass the blame or point the finger at others.

“It always starts with me and I am very honest. I will always look at what I can do better and should have done better, and try to improve myself,” he continued.

“That has to be everybody’s attitude. In football, it is easy to deflect or blame. There is always self-preservation but for me, you have to be up front and honest with yourself and improve.

“This now has to be seen as failure, there is no other way of saying it really. We can’t sugarcoat it, we have had numerous opportunities to get in the top two and the opportunity here today, but we have let it slip. We have to take responsibility for that.”