Ben Garner believes his Bristol Rovers side are heading in “the right direction”, even though a late Bolton leveller denied him a first win as manager.
Jonson Clarke-Harris scored Rovers’ first league goal since Boxing Day to put the visitors into a 63rd-minute lead, but Daryl Murphy’s equaliser extended Garner’s winless start to 11 games.
“We created some good chances and how the ball didn’t go in at least twice in the first half, I don’t know,” said Garner.
“We had several other opportunities in the second half and scored a good goal.
“We should have been at least 2-0 up at half-time and the goal makes it three and we kill the game.
“We have got to defend set pieces better, so disappointed with their goal. But in terms of our performance there were huge positives.
“Our intensity and work rate, our pressing was as good as it has been since I came into the club.
“We are very disappointed with just two points from a possible six (Rovers drew 0-0 with Fleetwood on Saturday), but that is a good sign.
“We are going in the right direction. The spirit and the desire is there.
“We have created chances and not taken them again, but delighted to get the goal.
“It was a good move, a great ball in from Alex Rodman and Jonno is where we want him – between the goalposts sticking them in.”
Murphy’s equaliser came after a lengthy stoppage for a challenge on Will Buckley which saw the Wanderers substitute carried off.
“We had good momentum at that time and we had excellent control of the game,” added Garner.
“But with a five, six, seven-minute delay you have to get going again.”
Bolton boss Keith Hill described the tackle by Abu Ogogo as a “1980s challenge”.
Garner responded: “It looked a hard, firm challenge. It looked more of a surprise for Buckley because he turned blind.”
Hill said of the game: “It was a difficult watch. But it was a misrepresentation of the honesty of the players and the ability of the players.
“They looked nervous and looked like they played under pressure.
“But they got a point and it is a satisfactory point, but the performances have to be better individually and collectively.
“But they deserved that point because we had players who hadn’t trained for most of the week, players who couldn’t train.
“The way we went 1-0 down was quite sloppy, but the lads deserve more reward than that display. They deserve more respect and credit.
“They are doing everything they can to fight for this club. Everyone player cares.”