Alex Baptiste thought he had fluffed his lines before becoming Wanderers’ unlikely opening day hero against MK Dons.
The defender scored his first goal in Bolton since New Year’s Day 2014 to earn a point for Ian Evatt’s men in a six-goal thriller at the UniBol.
Wanderers had tossed away a 2-1 lead in an error-strewn game played in torrential rain but trailing 3-2 in stoppage time, Baptiste admitted he nearly didn’t turn Elias Kachunga’s 95th minute cross into the open net after getting his feet in a muddle.
“I did my best to miss it,” he laughed. “I thought I was last man and as the cross came in and Kacha did unbelievably to get it back in I’m thinking ‘oh my God, if I sky this then I’m walking back in.’
“After the mistake I made in the first half I’m just happy I contributed in a positive way.”
Baptiste’s last Wanderers goal came against Middlesbrough in his previous stint at the club seven-and-a-half years ago. That day it was Frenchman David Ngog who supplied an injury time equaliser in a 2-2 draw.
Now 35, and a veteran of last season’s promotion winning side, Baptiste is only happy his performance will not be remembered for a first-half slip which nearly gifted MK Dons a second goal.
“That mistake killed me,” he said. “It’s what I will be thinking about all night. But you can’t get too high or low and to score the goal was a positive thing, even though I don’t think the gaffer would be too happy me being up there.
“Anything to help the team, that’s all that matters.
“At 2-1 I thought we were going to go and win three or four but we showed character and it was a weird game. We definitely deserved something, if not a win then a draw.”
The crowd of 16,087 was Wanderers’ best at this level of football since securing promotion in April 2017 against Peterborough United. It was also the seventh highest since dropping back into the lower half of the Football League in 2016.
“No matter if you are a Bolton or an MK fan you can’t argue that was a great game of football,” Baptiste said.
“Mistakes both ends, heart in mouth moments, and then that weather was great to play in. And with 16,000 people it was incredible.
“When you come out and hear that roar. When we’d played against Blackburn it felt like a Championship game and to see that… We’ve all had a tough 18 months and people have lost loved ones, struggled, and to enjoy the football again, it was great.
“To score… Jesus Christ. That is what you want. I made that mistake in the first half but is what it’s all about.”