Ian Evatt saluted his players as they showed their true colours to start 2023 with a superb victory at top-six rivals Barnsley.
Wanderers briefly slipped out of the play-off places following League One’s New Year’s Day results.
But Evatt’s men then displayed their Bank Holiday best to record a classy 3-0 win and get the better of Barnsley at the third time of asking this season following a goalless draw in October and an FA Cup exit at the hands of the Tykes.
“When we have the right energy and attitude and play with the right aggression and intensity with and without the ball we’re a really good team,” said the Wanderers’ boss after his side followed up back-to-back away draws either side of Christmas with their biggest away victory of the campaign.
“We let ourselves down in the first half the other day at Lincoln. We wanted to set the record straight today.
“There was some frustration from us with the way the two games against Barnsley had already gone this season and we felt like we needed to turn up and show the best version of ourselves and I think we did that today.
“I’m just really pleased for the players. We’ve put a lot into this month.
“We’re a hard team to beat, a difficult team to beat and we know we’ve left some points out there.
“But I think we’re doing the right things and I’m really pleased with today.
“This is a team when we score first is a really difficult team to beat and we tend to win games.
“The players are giving their absolute best and on their day and at their best they are capable of performances like that.”
The Whites went ahead in the 12th minute when Dion Charles slotted home his 11th goal of the season from the penalty spot after Barnsley skipper Mads Andersen had been sent off for pulling back the live-wire Wanderers’ frontman.
Strike partner Jon Dadi Bodvarsson then pounced on a defensive mistake to roll home his seventh of the campaign and then after riding out Barnsley’s best spell of the game just after half-time, sealed their victory with an outstanding goal from Kyle Dempsey in front of a delighted travelling support.
“I was really pleased with the way we started the game. We won the game with the way our energy and attitude was in the first 10 minutes,” added Evatt, who was able to bring the fit-again Ricardo Almeida Santos and Gethin Jones back into a squad missing the suspended Dapo Afolayan following his retrospective red card from Friday night’s 1-1 draw at Lincoln.
“We pressed intensely, played in behind and probably should have had a penalty and a red card a couple of minutes before.
“But we eventually got the rewards, got ahead and after that it was comfortable.
“We knew they would still have energy and press but if we moved the ball and kept patient, eventually they would fatigue and tire and then we took advantage the last 20 minutes.
“We got some fresh legs on and scored a wonderful third and probably could have added to it.
“It’s a brilliant feeling to see so many fans here and when they get behind the team like they did today it’s just a great day for everybody.
“We’ll enjoy today but again it’s only three points. Tomorrow’s a new day and then we must turn our focus onto a difficult game on Saturday and get ready for Plymouth.”