Ian Evatt praised his side’s professionalism as Wanderers went to the top of their group in the Papa John’s EFL Trophy.
A 4-1 win over Liverpool’s Under-21 side wasn’t quite enough to guarantee qualification for the knock-out stages of the competition.
A point in their final game at Rochdale would definitely do it, although goal difference might yet be enough to take Wanderers through.
And that was certainly helped by an impressive performance against the young Reds who had no answer once they’d fallen behind to Nathan Delfouneso’s opener with nearly half an hour gone.
“It was a good game. I really enjoy it as a coach because they cause you problems,” said Evatt, who made 10 changes to his starting line-up and also gave a second-half debut from the bench to 18-year-old midfielder Arran Pettifer.
“It took us a bit of time to figure out where we needed to press and how we needed to press but once we did I thought we gained control and some great deliveries into the box and some good finishes.
“I thought it was a really good game and credit to them. I thought they made it a good game.
“It was technical, it was tactical, it was everything you want and hopefully the fans who came – bar the downpour we got in the second half – enjoyed themselves.
“We had to find the solutions but once we did our attitude and application was correct, which is important in these games, and we went ahead and won it well.”
Fit-again striker Amadou Bakayoko replaced Elias Kachunga at half-time to score twice either side of a Liverpool own-goal as Wanderers shared around valuable game time.
And Evatt was delighted with how all have them accepted the chance ahead of Saturday’s League One trip to Sheffield Wednesday.
“It’s a mark of how far we’ve come when we can make 10 changes and you still think we’re fielding a really strong team. That’s good for us,” added the Bolton boss.
“Credit to our lads because their attitude and application was first-class. They showed great professionalism and everyone did great.
“Sometimes that can not be the case in these types of games but they showed good application and good quality at times.
“The young boys came in and expressed themselves and did really well.
“It was great to give young Arran Pettifer his debut. He’ll remember that for the rest of his life and young Mitchell (Henry) came on and did great again, so lots of positives.
“Elias has played Saturday-Tuesday for the first time in a long, long time and increasing Baka’s minutes for Saturday and the rest of the season. Obviously he’s a big player for us.”