Bolton manager Owen Coyle hailed 'outstanding' captain Kevin Davies after his late goal inspired Tuesday night's 2-0 home victory over Derby.
Coyle's men had endured a frustrating evening and numerous chances went begging before skipper Davies lifted the mood with a fine finish 13 minutes from time.
The long-serving striker volleyed home at the far post after Rams goalkeeper Frank Fielding repelled his initial header and Chris Eagles sealed the win in added time with a superb right-foot finish.
Coyle said: "I thought Kevin Davies was outstanding tonight. Even if he hadn't scored the goal he did, I thought it would still have been a man-of-the-match performance.
"He won every header that came his way, he led the line and he showed what the football club means to him.
"He's a real man's man and obviously we're very fortunate to have him here as captain.
"He stood up tonight and showed that. It's all very well when things are going well to sing and dance and join in the party.
"But in the face of adversity, that's the measure of any man and I think Kevin Davies really did set an example to everybody."
Coyle was satisfied with his side's response to their opening-day defeat at Burnley as they recorded their first win since being relegated after 11 consecutive seasons in the top flight.
The manager, whose side now host Nottingham Forest on Friday, added: "We certainly merited the win and the way we fashioned it out.
"After losing your opening game, when you have aspirations of getting back to the Premier League, then every game you go without winning brings pressure.
"That goes with the territory and I looked for a reaction from the players after Saturday.
"I made two changes - I told them to their faces it could have been six or seven - but I gave them a second bite of the cherry.
"It was a valuable three points that were merited and it gives us a platform to move into the live game on Friday night.
"It's another chance to get three points and to try and turn the Reebok into a real fortress. That's what we have to do."
Derby boss Nigel Clough was left frustrated and felt a number of decisions went against his side.
The Rams had a Richard Keogh strike ruled out for a push and substitute Mason Bennett hit the post late on, while Clough believed Davies had pushed Keogh in the build-up to his opening goal.
Clough said: "It's just unfortunate that the turning points are dictated by officials.
"Apparently our goal was disallowed because Nathan Tyson was blocking the goalkeeper.
"But you would have to explain that one to us because we can't see anything of that nature.
"As for the first goal that they scored, it's one of the most blatant pushes on Richard Keogh that I've seen for a long time."
Clough praised the performance of debutant Conor Sammon following his arrival from Wigan.
He added: "I was delighted with him. He showed in the first half, when he was fresh, that he's going to be a handful in this league."