It is difficult to say what would have happened had referee Geoff Eltringham given Bolton Wanderers what looked a stonewall penalty in the first half. Would the tide have turned for the Trotters and led them to grab a second? Would it have incensed Crystal Palace and sent them on a tear? Would the game have petered out after that and led Wanderers to a 1-0 win? In a number of interviews following Bolton's 1-0 weekend loss at home to Crystal Palace (Bolton's first home defeat of the year and Palace's first ever league win at Bolton), a number of Trotters were extremely frustrated by the referee's decisions.
Stephen Warnock labeled it a disgrace:
"The first one was an absolute disgrace. I could see from where I was that it was a handball and I think everyone in the stadium saw it apart from the linesman and the referee. That's the disappointing thing because that could have swung the game completely in our favour.
"How he hasn't spotted it... but then they are the decisions that are going against us at the moment. They are also the ones that will start turning in our favour."
Owen Coyle lamented the "soft" penalty awarded to Wilfred Zaha:
"When you're getting penalties denied and you're getting soft awards against you, which has happened to us three weeks in a row, it's hard to take. Decisions change games. We came out to get the three points and we were the better team. They had one or two opportunities but the bottom line is that we had the better chances in the game and we should have won.
"It was an opportunity to go up to about seventh in the table, so you take one step forward and another back. Of course it's hard to take."
It's becoming increasingly clear in Owen Coyle's interviews that he's viewing the world through Wanderers-colored glasses (as he should do, mind). Yes, Bolton were on the ascendency late in the first half and through most of the second but to say that Palace "had one or two opportunities" is just incorrect. The Eagles' attack troubled the Trotters' defense line all day and forced Zat Knight and Adam Bogdan to make a number of blocks in order to keep their hopes alive.
Finally, Zat Knight said that he'd make the challenge that brought down Zaha again every day of the week:
"I think he was making the most of it. He looked like he played for it. He is a really tricky customer and he has conned the referee - I believe so.
"I'm a defender and I'm going to make tackles. I would do exactly the same again. He has had his run at me and I don't think I actually made a tackle - his knee hit the back of my calf.
"It is what it is, he got the penalty and we were punished from it."
Stephen Warnock backed Zat on that front:
"I think he saw Zat coming across and he was waiting for the touch. He was waiting to go down.
"I was waiting for it and I knew myself that as soon as he backed me into the box he was going to go down.
"I think when you look at the two lads on the wings, they've got cracking feet, they are good players. But they are happy to go down.
"The thing is, if you invite the challenge, they'll try their luck."
Despite the fact that the penalty is what brought Bolton down, it would have all gone so very differently had the Trotters been able to fire anywhere other than right at the keeper.
If you missed our match coverage this last weekend, you can find all of it conveniently organized here.