Evatt: I'm So Proud

Ian Evatt hailed a great day for Wanderers and the town of Bolton after delivering the club’s first knock-out trophy in 34 years.

Evatt and his team turned on a Wembley master-class to beat League One leaders Plymouth Argyle 4-0 and win the Papa Johns Trophy in front of almost 80,000 fans on a magical afternoon.

The super Whites were an unstoppable force as two goals in each half from Kyle Dempsey and Dion Charles before the break and Elias Kachunga and Gethin Jones afterwards gave Wanderers the biggest final win in the competition’s history.

Wanderers enjoyed a 4-1 extra-time win over Torquay in 1989 to win the same trophy but this group of players will now go down in history after Evatt’s class of ’23 underlined the club’s journey back from near oblivion less than four years ago.

“I’m extremely proud of the way the players performed on the big stage and I’m extremely proud of this football club,” said Evatt, who can now add to the Trophy to a promotion from League Two to his Wanderers’ managerial CV.

“We’ve had a hell of a journey. We almost lost it. Sharon and the ownership group have saved the football club and re-built it from top to bottom.

“We’ve built a connection with the fan-base, with the town, with the community. Bolton Wanderers is the heartbeat of Bolton. You could feel that connection with the 35,000 fans that travelled.

“We owed them a good day like this. I’m so happy that we managed to do it and perform the way we did.

“To feel the energy from the fan-base, to feel what it means to them, to see Sharon and the rest of the owners and what it means to them, I take great pride in that.

“This is hopefully the first of many. Days like this are addictive. We want more of these days.”

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Wanderers will now turn their attention to the remainder of their challenge for a top-six finish and a possible place back at Wembley in the League One play-off final at the end of May.

And they will do that with the confidence of a breath-taking performance in out-playing the side currently sitting at the top of the table, which hadn’t previously conceded a goal to the Whites in their last five meetings.

“I still think we should have scored more!” Evatt added. “Plymouth are an excellent team with an excellent young manager and we knew it was going to be a tough game.

“But we also knew the game would suit us on a big pitch, a lovely pitch and big spaces to play into.

“I have felt that the players have re-energised over the last couple of weeks and I really felt a performance like this was on the cards. I’m really delighted they managed to execute the game-plan the way they did.

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“Part of our own development is that we haven’t had the right results in these big games. We’ve had moments in the big games – against all of the top six.

“We needed to start taking these moments because you don’t get them very often and we did.

“In the first 10 minutes we managed to take both of them and after that our fans were buoyant. The atmosphere was electric and the players thrived on that.

“They grew in confidence, they grew in belief and it was an outstanding performance. It was a great day for everybody.”

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