Dougie Freedman praised the resilience of his Bolton team after their promotion charge continued with a battling 2-1 success away to Bristol City.
An eighth win in 10 games took Wanderers into the npower Championship top six, despite a pummelling from a City team doomed to relegation. Substitute Craig Davies blasted a 79th-minute winner from the penalty spot after a linesman had flagged for Matthew Bates' foul on David Ngog six yards out.
A relieved Freedman said: "I've seen the incident again on film and there was definitely a foul on David. The linesman did well to spot it and I thought the officials worked well as a team.
"You need different tools to be a successful side and we showed our battling qualities. The race for play-off places is wide open and I see no reason why Bolton Wanderers should not be in the top six come the end of the season. We met a Bristol City side fighting for their lives and working very hard for each other. It was never going to be easy.
"But when other people were opening presents on Christmas Day we were training. Now we are reaping the reward of months of hard work."
Bolton went in front inside two minutes when Darren Pratley's cross from the left was allowed to pass across the six-yard box and Liam Fontaine deflected it into his own goal, but City were in no mood to surrender and equalised four minutes after the break when the unmarked Steve Davies headed home from an Albert Adomah cross.
Adomah was a threat throughout the game. But Bolton centre-backs Zat Knight and Craig Dawson repelled a series of dangerous crosses.
City boss Sean O'Driscoll said: "Our performance had everything I would want apart from enough goals to win the game. I was disappointed we didn't get a penalty for handball late in the game, but that's the way things have been going for us.
"We have a big summer ahead with a number of contracts up, but I can't ask more in terms of effort than the players showed here.
"The fans have stuck with us, but we have known for a while that a change of strategy was necessary at the club. We can't keep on throwing millions of pounds at trying to achieve success. It hasn't worked."