Bolton boss Dougie Freedman offered a pragmatic view on the controversial penalty decision which meant they avoided Capital One Cup embarrassment at the hands of neighbours Bury.
Wanderers were heading out at the first-round stage against their local rivals, who had taken the lead through Ryan Lowe, until referee Jeremy Simpson awarded a stoppage-time penalty when former Bolton keeper Rob Lainton tangled with Craig Davies.
The Shakers fumed at the decision and were forced into 30 minutes of extra time when Davies converted the spot kick in the seventh minute of time added on. Neil Danns then scored twice - the first via a large deflection off Chris Sedgwick - and, despite Jim McNulty’s goal, the Sky Bet League Two club eventually lost 3-2.
“If any player goes to ground inside or outside the box and doesn’t make contact with the ball, he’s asking the referee to make a decision,” said Freedman, whose opposite number David Flitcroft furiously remonstrated with Simpson at the end but was unavailable for comment after the game.
Lainton had only come on at half-time because Shwan Jalal sustained a first-half injury and he appeared intent on proving Freedman wrong after he released him last summer. He made two fantastic saves, the second a brilliant one-handed punch from David Wheater’s try, before the game-changing moment in stoppage-time.
“He did make some great saves and the young boy who was here will only be stronger for that,” added Freedman.
“These are the types of games you need to be involved in to be stronger for that. I know he’ll be stronger for that because I went through it myself, I’ve been beaten in games in the last minute, but he’ll be better for it.”
Lainton was sat on the Bury bench watching his side dismantle his former employers in the first half but, after some choice half-time words, Freedman revealed he always felt the tide would turn.
“Bury had unbelievable energy levels in the first 45 minutes and it resulted in them taking the lead,” he noted.
“They couldn’t sustain those energy levels in the way their system was playing over the 90 minutes; we told the lads that and that proved right. We should have probably scored before the penalty so it wasn’t something we didn’t deserve.”
All of Wanderers’ goals came from substitutes, a fact which pleased their manager, whose aim this summer was to clear the dead wood at the Macron Stadium to build a younger, hungrier squad.
Freedman said: “In my time here I’ve felt the substitutes have needed to do more when they come on the pitch.
“But it goes down to honesty, desire and not giving up. We’ve not got sulkers any more, we’ve got people who can change a game and that’s what happened.
“I’ve looked at the results and many (Championship) teams have been knocked out and we could have easily done that but we’ve stuck in there, we’ve hung in there and got the result. You’ve got to give credit to Craig Davies and Neil Danns for stepping up and doing the business.”