Bolton boss Ian Evatt admitted he was enjoying the stresses and strains of his side’s promotion bid after they battled to a 1-0 home win over Carlisle.
Following Tuesday night’s results, it seems likely the League Two promotion race will go down to the wire, with Wanderers currently sitting in an automatic promotion spot.
Bolton striker Eoin Doyle scored the game’s only goal in the 28th minute, though Carlisle dominated possession for long periods and the home side barely got out of their own half in a frantic final 15 minutes.
Evatt said: “We dominated the first half and in the second we really needed to get that second goal, though we should have probably had a penalty in the second half.
“Carlisle – probably because their whole season was on the line tonight – threw absolutely everything at us. Long throws, set plays… Carlisle tried everything tonight.
“I thought our back four and (goalkeeper) Matt Gilks were outstanding. Carlisle got bodies forward, had set-pieces and we had to dig deep but we did that and got a brilliant three points. There is a lot of improvement to come from this team – we are not the finished article.”
Bolton next go to Lancashire rivals Morecambe, who sit a place and a point behind in the table, and Evatt said the run-in is one he is relishing.
“I’m enjoying it – I know that sounds crazy,” he said.
“I’d much rather be where we are and fighting for promotion at this stage of the season. We have got a job to do on Saturday.”
Carlisle manager Chris Beech was disappointed not to be heading back up the M6 with something to show for their efforts.
He said: “I think you could see in the second half how much it meant to the players because they went all out trying to get a goal. I was really pleased with the players’ performance.
“Bolton have got some quality players and if you give them the extra yard, they’ll make intelligent football decisions. There was a 15-20 minute period in the first half where we allowed them to take an extra touch.
“In the second half, Bolton were really up against it but they showed all their qualities by stopping us scoring. We just never got that clear-cut chance we needed.”
Beech said he was hopeful his players would quickly get over the disappointment because he believed the “gap could be closed” to the top seven in the remaining games of the season.
He added: “If you’re going to get in the play-offs you need to break 70 points. We can achieve that but we need to try our best.”