Bolton boss Dougie Freedman saluted hat-trick hero Joe Mason after Wanderers came from behind to beat Rotherham 3-2 and claim a first Sky Bet Championship victory of the season.
The on-loan Cardiff striker struck twice in a frantic last 10 minutes after dragging Wanderers back into contention on the hour following Anthony Wordsworth’s first-half free-kick.
Substitute Jordan Bowery looked to have snatched a second successive late draw for the Millers with an 82nd minute equaliser only for Mason to earn Wanderers a vital three points with his first career treble.
“I do believe the kid has a big future,” said Freedman of Mason, currently in his third stint with the Trotters after netting six times in two spells last season.
“He is still learning his trade and unfortunately for him Cardiff are blessed with lots of strikers. But we can guarantee him game time and in my opinion Joe will get you a fair share of goals.
“He and Craig Davies were immense tonight, mentally and physically. I always believe in this group of players not to lie down.
“In the end it could have been more than the scoreline suggests. The second half was a fantastic display from everyone in the team to get back in the game.
“It has taken a while,” admitted Freedman of Bolton’s first win at the seventh attempt. “But the games have been very tight.”
Wanderers will complete the signing of 20-year-old free-agent Max Clayton on Wednesday, subject to a medical, after agreeing a compensation package with Crewe.
Millers assistant boss Paul Raynor praised his side’s character but blasted match officials for failing to allow his side a late penalty for an apparent trip by keeper Andy Lonergan on substitute Jonson Clarke-Harris.
Raynor admitted referee Neil Swarbrick and his team were right to disallow Alex Revell’s goal at 3-2 for offside, but he added: “The keeper blatantly left the ball and took the player out when he is just about to slide it across.
“The linesman, in his wisdom, saw the offside but got that one (the penalty) wrong.
“He is 100 per cent he got the offside right and said he would put his mortgage on it.
“But I think he might have lost his mortgage if he tells me that’s not a penalty.”
Despite seeing his team suffer a fourth game without a win Raynor added: “We pride ourselves on our character.
“We have come into a difficult division with some massive clubs and acquitted ourselves very well.
“We set up with more of an adventurous shape in our side because we thought we could cause Bolton problems and that’s how it proved.
“We got the first goal and looked more dangerous. But we conceded a sloppy goal and didn’t expect the ball to go in from that distance
“It gave them a lifeline because the crowd were starting to get agitated and their players were getting nervy. It was a difficult period and we allowed them to get out of it.”