Boss Dave Artell admitted Oliver Finney was due to be substituted before netting Crewe’s second goal in a 3-2 FA Cup win at Bolton.
Finney’s last contribution before making way for Callum Ainley was to restore the League One side’s lead after 70 minutes.
Charlie Kirk’s header made it 3-1 five minutes later before Nathan Delfouneso’s second of an entertaining tie came in the League Two outfit’s losing effort.
“If the ball had gone out earlier he would have come off – thankfully it didn’t,” Artell said after the visitors shrugged off three successive scoreless league defeats.
“He has a natural ability to arrive at the right time, in the right space and finish off the chances.
“That’s what he did. It was probably not his best performance and he would be the first to admit that.
“But the fact he can get in those positions is a great skill to have. If he keeps scoring goals, it is the best knack to have.”
Mikael Mandron put Crewe in front after 29 minutes with his sixth goal of the campaign and third against Wanderers this season.
The French striker’s left-foot shot ended a five-match goalless streak helped by a chat with boss Artell in the build-up to the contest.
“He came to see me and asked a few questions about Tuesday night (Crewe’s 1-0 defeat by Gillingham) and how he can improve,” said Artell. “Credit to him, I like that about wanting to improve.
“We had a good hour’s chat about what he should be doing. Did that have an effect on this game? Probably not, but it might have.
“The fact he scored a goal is credit to him because as a number nine he will get judged on scoring goals.”
After his side’s fourth game without victory Bolton boss Ian Evatt said: “We scored two well-worked goals but the opposition didn’t have to work equally as hard to score against us.
“It’s crazy to say while they scored three goals our back three defended really well.
“We have made individual errors again which cost us the game.
“Crewe, for all their nice play, hadn’t created too much. We rallied and scored another excellent goal but we ran out of steam at the end.
“It’s another game where we have huffed and puffed and seen flashes of brilliance. But we have seen the other side which isn’t so good.
“I think we beat ourselves rather than Crewe beating us.
“We have to have a sense of perspective. We can’t keep falling and falling and then someone switches a switch and we are the best team you have ever seen.
“It is going to take time. We are in a massive transition implementing a new style with a new squad of players but we are trying our best to get results.
“We haven’t had our best team available all at once; hopefully we are close to getting that.”