On-loan Manchester United man Shola Shoretire impresses Bolton boss in away win
Manchester United loanee Shola Shoretire was praised by Bolton manager Ian Evatt after his first senior goal ensured the Trotters warmed up for the Sky Bet League One play-offs on a high.
The 19-year-old opened his senior goalscoring account to put Bolton on course for a hard-fought 3-2 victory over Bristol Rovers at the Memorial Stadium and ensured they will face Barnsley in their play-off semi-final in confident mood.
Evatt said: “I think that Shola is a hugely talented player and while I’m delighted that he’s now got off the mark with us, I’m certain that there’s lots more to come.
“He’s had a bit of a stop-start of things since he came to Bolton but scoring his first senior goal for us will be a great boost for him.
“This is his first loan away from United and his first sustained taste of senior football and as a young player you’re always going to have highs and lows.
“He started off great with us after arriving on loan in January and then he’s had a dip but the key thing is that he has kept his head down and worked hard and he can have an impact in the play-offs.”
Shoretire put Bolton in command with a tap-in midway through the first half and although Luca Hoole equalised soon after, Bolton’s superiority told after the break.
After Shoretire limped off with cramp, Southampton loanee Daniel Nlundulu restored Bolton’s advantage with a 20-yard drive before Aaron Morley struck with a delightful side-footed effort from outside the box.
Rovers substitute John Marquis slotted home from close range late on to set up a tense finale that saw Scott Sinclair’s stoppage-time strike hit the crossbar but Bolton held firm, much to Evatt’s delight.
“The squad is in a good place, the players have lots of confidence and I have a massive amount of belief in them,” Evatt added.
“We have to prove what we can do in the play-offs but now I feel we’re coming to the boil at just the right time.
“We have the hunger and determination to attack the play-offs and we’ve been working tirelessly behind the scenes, so we’ll be ready.
“But now isn’t the time for pats on the back, it’s about getting our heads down and working hard because we can do it in the play-offs if we give it our best shot.”
After taking part in a post-match lap of honour with his players and staff, Rovers boss Joey Barton was quick to look forward to next season.
“I’ll be aiming to build a squad that is capable of challenging for a place in the Championship because that’s what the fans deserve,” Barton said.
“The support we’ve received from the Gasheads has been sensational but special mention must go to my players who have worked ever so hard all season.
“I know the enormous sacrifices that they have made this season to help establish ourselves in League One.”