Johan Elmander, the £10m forward who apparently could not buy a goal, was on the mark to help steer Bolton through to the last 16 of the Carling Cup and, possibly, his manager into calmer waters.
Of the many complaints thrown in the direction of Gary Megson by his increasingly disgruntled supporters, the form of Elmander, the club's record signing in the summer of 2008, is usually first and foremost.
Last night, as he slid to convert a 118th minute cross from Chung-Yong Lee into an open net, he and Megson will have been hoping his first goal in 22 games, a first at his home stadium since the opening day of last season, is a sign of better times ahead.
"Everybody has been concerned about him and he's been so desperate to score," said Megson. "If his personality was a little bit different he might have said, stuff it, and probably would have scored before now. But he is so intense and determined to score that sometimes he is not relaxed. I really do hope that relaxes him a bit because I'm not ready to give up on Johan Elmander yet, nobody at the club is."
The Elmander goal was the final, and eventually unnecessary, finale to a Bolton comeback that had contained plenty of spirit after West Ham had threatened to bury them under an early avalanche of chances.
Ultimately, the visitors could claim only one goal, Herita Ilunga's on the hour, after Matt Taylor attempted to clear Alessandro Diamanti's corner and succeeded only in deflecting it to the far post and the West Ham defender.
That looked likely to be the winning goal until Taylor made amends in the closing minutes of normal time, picking out an unmarked Kevin Davies from a corner and watching the veteran forward steer home the ball with a seven-yard header.
Honours even, momentum was with the home team and Taylor teed up Davies for a 93rd minute header, scrambled off the line, before forcing Robert Green into a superb save from a 25-yard free-kick.
Six minutes of extra-time had elapsed when West Ham failed to arrest Tamir Cohen's run into the area, his cross was worked to Fabrice Muamba for a blocked shot which Gary Cahill chased down and sent soaring into the goal from 25 yards.
The opening exchanges had been very different to this, West Ham creating four noteworthy chances inside the opening three minutes, Kieron Dyer missing the best of these as Jussi Jaaskelainen won their one-on-one battle, a feat he would later repeat against Zavon Hines. But Bolton showed early glimpses of their potential for recovery with Green needing to be in excellent form to deny a header from Zat Knight and a glancing effort from Ivan Klasnic.
"It's not a great moment for us just now but we are playing good football and that's encouraging," said Zola. "We just need to improve some things but at least we're producing good football. When you create so many opportunities you need to do better. That was that."
Bolton (4-4-2): Jaaskelainen; Ricketts, Cahill, Knight, Samuel; Taylor, Muamba, McCann (Cohen 83), Gardner (Chung-Yong 69); Davies, Klasnic (Elmander 76). Substitutes not used: Al Habsi, O'Brien, M Davies, Steinsson.
West Ham (4-4-2): Green; Spector, Tomkins, Da Costa (N'Gala 63), Ilunga; Kovac, Parker, Noble, Dyer (Cole 75); Hines (Faubert 88), Diamanti. Substitutes not used: Nouble, Kurucz, Payne, Edgar.
Referee: H Webb (Yorkshire)Reuse content