Owen Coyle blamed Bolton's sluggish second-half display during their FA Cup victory over Macclesfield Town last night on the ease with which they went about winning the game in the opening period.
Early goals from Kevin Davies and Martin Petrov were enough to book the Trotters' place in the fourth round, where they will face Swansea City, but they were booed by a section of the home support towards the end of the third-round replay for a perceived lack of ambition. Coyle put the performance down to the players saving themselves for Saturday's visit of Liverpool.
"In the first half we passed and moved the ball the way we are capable of doing. We scored two good goals and created numerous other chances," the Bolton manager said. "Truth be told in the second half, and I stressed this to the players, that they probably felt the game was too easy for them. I think they knew they had won the game, but for me you have to keep your foot down on the peddle and get those further goals in the game.
Coyle maintained that, despite the away team's second-half prominence, the result was never in doubt. "I think [Bolton goalkeeper] Adam [Bogdan] had one save in the game," he said. "But other than that I don't recall anything that really troubled him. The most important thing is that we are through to the next round and we came through unscathed with injuries."
Coyle's opposite number, Gary Simpson, was pleased with his side's response to going a goal down within a minute and was proud of his young outfit. The average age of the Macclesfield squad barely finds its way into the 20s and they have a number of teenagers attracting Premier League clubs.
"It wasn't the greatest start in the world. The kid slipped and they punish you at this level when they get a chance. To go 1-0 down we could have caved in but we recouped a bit," Simpson said.
Kevin Davies was reinstated to lead the Bolton line and found the net within 34 seconds. A calamitous miscued clearance from Jon Bateson allowed Ivan Klasnic to cross from the left and Davies to beat his marker to prod under Macclesfield keeper Jose Veiga.
The goal woke the visitors up however, and their well-drilled 4-5-1 was able to contain a Bolton side insistent on passing their way to goal. But after an initial spell of pressure they struggled to come to terms with the home side's width, with both Petrov and Tuncay enjoying freedom to roam from wide areas. Cutting in from the left, the Bulgarian had a shot well blocked by Shaun Brisley.
It was not long before Coyle's side doubled their lead after 26 minutes. The lively Petrov was afforded space by Bateson and he struck underneath the goalkeeper from outside the penalty area.
Bolton Wanderers (4-4-2) Bogdan; Riley, Boyata, Wheater, Ricketts (Robinson, 63); Tuncay (O'Halloran, 82), Reo-Coker, M Davies, Petrov; Klasnic (Ngog, 63), K Davies.
Macclesfield Town (4-5-1) Veiga; Bateson (Whiteoak, 89), Brisley, Brown, Tremarco; Hewitt, Wedgebury (Fairhurst, h-t), Hamshaw (Mukendi, 83), Mendy, Diagne; Daniel.
Referee M Oliver (Northumberland).