A brace from Jermaine Beckford helped Bolton Wanderers spare their blushes as they successfully progressed to the third round of the Capital One cup.
Dougie Freedman made a total of nine changes to the starting line-up that had previously taken to the field at the AMEX. In came youngsters Chris Lester, Conor Wilkinson and Oscar Threlkeld as the manager finally gave youth a go.
The club is becoming well renowned for their slow starts, this has already been demonstrated in the league and once again tonight. With only two minutes on the clock the hosts had opened the scoring. Oscar Threlkeld was making his third senior appearance for the club and was caught out in the opening minutes of the tie by the Alex's forwards. Picking the ball up on the left, Brad Inman dropped his shoulder left Threlkeld on the floor before curling home a lovely effort in the bottom corner.
The Whites were shell-shocked and hardly improved after their early set-back. Despite the increasing anxiety and frustration coming from the away stand Dougie Freedman's men only started to play after the half-hour mark. The likes of Liam Feeney and Jermaine Beckford were starting to grow into the game, and eventually the ball found its way into the Railwaymen's net.
Five minutes before the break the Whites grabbed an undeserved equaliser. Liam Feeney, who had looked lively for Bolton down the left, was instrumental in creating the goal as his cross stood up to the far post and was headed home by Darren Pratley.
Andy Lonergan started the game after Adam Bogdan was deemed unfit to play by the club's physio after his injury on Saturday against Brighton. Lonergan was definitely responsible for keeping the Wanderers in the game as he again produced a smart stop to deny a Vadaine Oliver rasping effort. The former Preston and Leeds stopper put in a very composed and consistent display, as he tried to steady an already shaky Bolton defence.
After an exciting first half the cup-tie seemed to settle down for the remainder of the second half as both sides battled valiantly to secure the win. However, the majority of the game was won and lost in midfield. Chances were sparse, but one did come along in the 92nd minute. No-one could have prepared the crowd for the drama that was to unfold in the eight additional minutes, it was hectic.
A cross from the right was deflected up into the air, with Beckford showing that he can actually play football as he superbly converted a full volley into the net.
Game won? Brilliant let's start searching for hotels in London for our soon to be Wembley trip, WRONG. Bolton Wanderers and Sir Douglas Freedman do not simply win in regulation time.
From the right side Inman flighted a cross to the back post, with substitute Marcus Haber heading home to send the game into extra time to the despair of Bolton's loyal travelling faithful.
Nethertheless Freedman regrouped his side after the interval and they did come out stronger. Fatigue didn't seem to be pragmatic as Joe Mason managed to glance his header from Feeney's centre loop narrowly over the bar.
It was obvious that the first goal would be the only goal in extra time, and fortunately Beckford bagged his brace in the 107th minute.
Lee guided an ambitious ball ball over the Crewe rear-guard which was superbly guided beyond the onrushing goalkeeper by Jermaine Beckford.
The draw for the Capital One cup third round will take place tomorrow night.