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Manchester Evening News
Manchester Evening News
John McDougall

'Proud' - Ian Evatt's Dapo Afolayan verdict after Bolton Wanderers wing-back stint vs Accrington

Ian Evatt vowed he was proud of what he saw Dapo Afolayan achieve in the win for Bolton Wanderers against Accrington Stanley after his stint at left wing-back is part of developing him into an all round package.

Wanderers came from 2-0 down to win 3-2 at the Wham Stadium yesterday afternoon. Afolayan ended up scoring what proved to be the winning goal.

Shaun Whalley's effort put the hosts ahead early in the first half. Kyle Dempsey had a pair of efforts, one from a free kick, saved by Toby Savin, while Dion Charles saw a goalbound rebound blocked by Mitch Clark.

READ MORE: Bolton Wanderers player ratings vs Accrington Stanley - Dapo Afolayan great in comeback victory

After the break, Wanderers went two behind when George Johnston headed past James Trafford inadvertantly to double Stanley's lead, before Ricardo Santos headed off the line from Whalley. Wanderers got back into the game thanks to Harvey Rodgers putting through his own net.

But Afolayan completed the comeback with a marvellous solo effort to put the Whites in the lead. It proved to be the winner as Wanderers secured their first League One win and indeed goals in the division since the start of October to move back into the division's play-off places with the 3-2 comeback victory.

Afolayan started the game at left wing-back, before playing in a more attacking role as Evatt made changes to the team with substitutions in the form of Jack Iredale, Elias Kachunga and George Thomason proving crucial. Wanderers also switched to a 4-3-3.

With Afolayan not being a regular starter in recent weeks, Evatt paid tribute to the attacker's attitude and how he has been around the camp has been first class. He believes seeing what he can do at wing-back is also an attempt to improve the player's all round game and defensive attributes.

He said: “I think Dapo is a willing learner, he’s an intelligent football player. He’s had to have some spell and time out of the team because earlier on in the season the team was functioning really well.

“But what I’ve got to say is as a character and his personal development, he’s been a pleasure to work with, especially the last month. He’s had his head down, he’s been ultra supportive of the players.

“He’s had a smile on his face day in, day out. Sometimes as a football player you want to coach them and develop them in the tactical and physical detail, but his personal development has been a pleasure to see and witness, especially this last month.

“He’s become a fantastic team mate and I’m really proud of what he’s achieved today.”

Wanderers broke a mini goalscoring drought which ran to their last three League One games in the win. Though the likes of Dion Charles and Jon Dadi Bodvarsson did not find the back of the net, he felt his strikers did a lot of good work in the victory.

Evatt said: “No, the strikers didn’t score today but they did a lot of good work. I thought Elias Kachunga was absolutely brilliant when he came on, was a real handful. He grabbed the game by the scruff of the neck and dragged everyone with him. I thought he was fantastic.

“Young George Thomason as well. Dion had one or two opportunities and chances and we have belief in him to score, as I do all the strikers. At the moment Jon’s having a tough time but he does not need to beat himself up. He just needs to relax, keep enjoying his football, play with a smile on his face and the goals will come back for him.

“We’ve got a really good squad of players, it’s really challenging to keep them all happy, but we think we’re in a good place and we just need to keep our heads down, keep working hard and keep believing in ourselves.”

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