Bolton Wanderers heading to Wembley for play-off final despite second-leg defeat to Barnsley

Fans celebrate Bolton Wanderers heading to Wembley for a place in the Championship

Bolton secured their place in the League One play-off final despite being beaten by Barnsley at the Toughsheet Community Stadium as Ian Evatt’s men edged the Tykes 5-4 on aggregate.

Holding the upper hand after last Friday’s 3-1 semi-final first-leg win at Oakwell, Bolton had their lead cut in the 36th minute by Sam Cosgrove before hitting back with two goals prior to the break.

Barnsley scored again through Adam Phillips in the 64th minute and Cosgrove then made it 3-2 on the night 12 minutes later to set up a tense finale, but the Trotters held out as they gained revenge over the side that beat them in last season’s play-off semis.

They will head to Wembley a week on Saturday to vie with either Oxford or Peterborough for a place in the Championship – the U’s are 1-0 up in the tie ahead of Wednesday’s second leg at the Weston Homes Stadium.

Manager Ian Evatt said in his post-match press conference: “I think eventually I’ll get to the place of happiness.

“It was a lot more uncomfortable than it needed to be. The game was going nowhere, we’d done the hard part first half, we’d just had a massive chance to make it 3-1, and then just a crazy mistake gifts them a goal.

“Credit to them, they put us under enormous pressure. They’ve got nothing to lose, playing fearless football, and we have everything to lose.

“Eventually I’ll get to the positives. I’m more annoyed with the manner in which we conceded the equaliser. But I’m proud of players, because first half, (Barnsley) got the first goal and we reacted to that so well, got two great goals, playing some really good stuff.

“Second half we had complete control and a moment of madness has changed the momentum. But I’m just delighted we have managed to see it through.

“We were so confident and playing so well that it probably spilled into a little bit of over-confidence. But the players have done it, over the two legs we deserved to win.

“I’m not celebrating at all, my mindset is on one more game, and I’ve told the players the truth. Their ears might be ringing a bit but they have to hear it and understand that we have to make that more comfortable for everybody, and we didn’t and that’s our fault. But for large parts of that game, I thought we played really well.”