Bolton Wanderers boss delivers verdict on Sunderland defeat and makes League One table prediction
Ian Evatt says Sunderland were fortunate to take all three points from Saturday's open contest at the Stadium of Light.
Carl Winchester's early goal proved to be the winner as two sides who have started the campaign in excellent form played out an entertaining contest.
Evatt's side dominated much of the second half, but missed a number of good openings.
Sunderland boss Lee Johnson said after the game that he expected Bolton Wanderers to be promotion contenders over the course of the campaign, and Evatt mirrored that assessment in his post-match message to his players in the away dressing room.
"We're really pleased with that performance," he said.
"I think Sunderland are a very, very well-coached team and rightly so are at the top of the division.
"So you come to a place like this and it's a good test for our lads, because of the way we play you need to be really brave in possession.
"In the first half, I thought we were just starting to get some control when we conceded the goal. That rocked us and we had a couple of nervy moments, but you expect that when you play how we do.
"First half was touch and go, I thought, with both teams having chances.
"In the second half we passed through their press really well, and created a lot of chances. We just didn't take any.
"I've just said to the players in the dressing room, we've lost to Rotherham and Sunderland, who are expected to be up there, and dominated both games.
"If we play like that for the rest of the season and keep our belief we'll be up there come the end of the season."
It was a rare off-day for Eoin Doyle in front of goal, with Evatt confident that his side willl have no concerns if they continue to create that volume of chances for the forward.
The Wanderers boss felt his side played as well here, if not better, than they did in an eye-catching 5-2 win over Ipswich Town recently.
He said that despite the frustration, his group were taking a lot of confidence from their level of performance against the top sides early on in this campaign.
"We frustrated but we back our players to take those chances," he said.
"You want your chances to fall to Eoin in particular and today it's just been one of those days.
"The main thing for us is what we're doing tee to green to get there, and we were excellent from back to front to create those chances.
"We're newly-promoted and people forget that because we're Bolton. But against the top teams we've been more than competitive and I think their manager would be honest and say they've got away with one there.
"They've earned that right because they'e defended great in that second half, worked hard.
"I just think it's just very good, very well-coached teams who I believe will be up there come the end of the season."