Dougie Freedman hailed Chris Eagles’ magic touch after Bolton secured a last-gasp 1-0 npower Championship win over north west neighbours Blackburn.
Eagles came on to conjure a fine winning goal in the final minute of stoppage time and move Wanderers to within five points of Brighton, who currently occupy the final play-off place.
Gus Poyet’s men visit the Reebok Stadium on Saturday to take on a side unbeaten in seven matches and on a run of four consecutive victories.
Wanderers manager Freedman believes Eagles can be central to continuing Wanderers’ purple patch and insists the 27-year-old former Burnley winger was only dropped to the bench this evening due to the debilitating effects of a gruelling season.
“He’s a talented lad and he’s got that magic dust that we all look for,” said the Scot. “He’s got that spark, he’s different.
“He’s lost a little bit of that energy through me flogging him for 20-odd games or whatever I’ve done it for so I pulled him out of the team as a decision to benefit the whole group - not because I think he’s lost form, just because I think it’s the right decision.
“Luckily enough the opportunity fell to Chris who, if you know him, is a very confident character no matter what the situation is.
“He’s a very chirpy lad who tells me how wonderful he is every day so I’ve got no doubt that if it does come his way he’s going to sink it.”
While the post-match attention understandably focused on Eagles, Freedman was keen to draw attention towards his players’ collective efforts.
“The defence were outstanding because they gave us the opportunity to win that game,” he said.
“Big Andy Lonergan made that wonderful save from Jordan Rhodes, who normally sinks them away.
“They gave us the opportunity to win so it’s all about a team effort tonight. It was about making sure it was 0-0 and we had that opportunity.”
Freedman also revealed he will seek reinforcements in the loan market for a play-off push he fears may have arrived too late.
“We’ve got a few big games coming up that I believe can keep our season alive,” he added.
“It’s very difficult for us. I do believe games are running out quickly, which is unfortunate for us as we find this bit of form right now.
“I’ve not looked at the table because I know that if we can continue playing and I can get a few players in on loan to help the squad, because they’re really tired right now, then I know we’ll climb it.
“I’m not too sure how quickly we’ll climb it because we’re running out of games.”
A run of one point from five games leaves Blackburn’s own play-off ambitions the wrong side of fanciful, although boss Michael Appleton was encouraged by the endeavour on display from his players - a far cry from their meek first-half surrender to Peterborough on Saturday.
He said: “Obviously Bolton are on a good little run at the minute and sometimes you go on a purple patch like that and things go for you.
“But I certainly believe that the harder you work the luckier you become.
“I think that if we continue to play with the commitment, the effort and the attitude that we showed.... it was certainly a performance that sums me up as a person as well as a manager.
“I need 11 players who enter the field of play wanting to put in the type of performance that they did tonight.”