Ian Evatt left the Stadium of Light perplexed but proud after his side was unable to puncture Sunderland’s perfect home start.
The Black Cats held on to secure a 1-0 win which made it five out of five at the Stadium of Light and kept them second in the League One table on goal difference.
But they won’t be pushed harder all season as Wanderers did everything but score in a performance that had Evatt purring and wondering how his side left Wearside empty-handed.
“I don’t know how we didn’t get something,” said the Bolton boss.
“What I will say is I’m proud of our performance.
“For whatever reason, the football gods weren’t with us today, but I’m so proud of the players.
“To come here and play like that is exceptional and a reminder of how far we’ve come. That’s what we have to remember.
“I said in the week that this (Sunderland) is a really big football club with high expectations, but so are we.
“We dominated the second half but just couldn’t score. I thought it was two very good teams playing at a very high level and two teams I think will be up there at the end of the season.
“We created lots of opportunities and just didn’t take them but I think we all have to be proud of what the players achieved today.”
Wanderers suffered back-to-back defeats for the first time since December as they couldn’t turn their pressure into goals.
But the quality of the side’s football bodes well for what’s to come as Evatt’s men – who slipped a place to ninth - look to keep challenging at the top end of the table.
“We can’t get downbeat. This is a really tough run of games. They are all big tests but we are competitive,” Evatt added.
“Sometimes it’s easy on the back of two defeats to get downbeat and think about what we could have done and what we need to do better and, also, do we need to change?
“But the answer’s ‘no’. A lot of what we are doing is right and a lot of what we are doing is very good.
“It’s just the finer details but I hope everyone is proud because I’m super-proud of them – even though we’ve lost the game.
“I don’t want to hear any negativity. I just want to hear positives from what we’ve done today.”
Wingman Lloyd Isgrove was replaced in the second half following a clash of heads as Wanderers battled to cancel out Carl Winchester’s early strike, which was ultimately enough to give the Wearsiders the points.
Evatt revealed that the Wales international was feeling no ill-effects but confirmed he will be forced to sit out Tuesday night’s trip to Charlton Athletic.