Two late goals decided Wanderers' meeting with Sunderland as the Black Cats took all the points back up to the North East.
In what was a fairly even affair, Stephane Sessegnon put the visitors ahead with just eight minutes remaining, before Sunderland sealed the win deep into injury time when Nicklas Bendtner scored a breakaway goal as Wanderers pushed forward for an equaliser.
Clear-cut chances were hard to come by on a cold day at the Reebok, although Darren Pratley twice came close to netting his first goal for Bolton with opportunities in each half, particularly late-on when he was denied by a sprawling save from Simon Mignolet.
Having performed so admirably at the DW Stadium, Owen Coyle kept faith with the same 18 players that helped to beat Wigan, with no changes made in the starting line-up or on the substitutes' bench. As for Sunderland, Steve Bruce handed Connor Wickham his first Premier League start since he joined for big money from Ipswich in the transfer window.
As with the game seven days earlier, Wanderers were once again quick out of the blocks. Both wingers started the game in bright fashion, particularly Martin Petrov, who forced Simon Mignolet into a good, low save with a shot from all of 30 yards inside the opening five minutes.
Sunderland also eased themselves into the game and after Jack Colback thrashed at an effort from distance, Nicklas Bendtner brought Jussi Jaaskelainen into the action for the first time with a skidding shot from the edge of the area.
Before kick-off, Owen Coyle had spoken about how David Ngog had been stepping up his fitness over the previous few weeks and there were no doubts that the striker was looking sharper. His pace and movement was something that the Black Cats' rearguard needed to be aware of in throughout the first half, particularly when the former Liverpool man raced onto a ball down the right channel before centring for Darren Pratley, who was just inches away from scoring his first goal for the club with a drive from 14 yards out.
Ngog also helped set Chris Eagles away with strong hold-up play just before the half-hour mark, but the former Burnley man didn't quite find his range in the opening period. Having sliced wide with a first-time effort just moments previously, this time a curling effort from the opposite side of the area was whipped over the crossbar.
Kevin Davies guided a Paul Robinson free-kick into the arms of Mignolet and Darren Pratley lost his footing at the crucial time inside the Sunderland box as Bolton bossed proceedings without finding the breakthrough during the first 45.
Sunderland enjoyed their best period of the half in the ten minutes leading up to half-time. Stephane Sessegnon scuffed a volley at the far post after Wanderers had failed to clear an inswinging corner, while from another delivery in the same quadrant, John O'Shea headed wide at the near post. Ultimately, though, it was scoreless going into the interval.
Just moments after the restart, Petrov popped up in a bit of space inside the area and looked in a promising position to break the deadlock. However, the Bulgarian went at the ball with his weaker right foot and couldn't get enough purchase on his shot to beat Mignolet.
Equally, Sunderland created a double opening to nudge themselves ahead in the immediate moments at the start of the second period, although two last-ditch blocks came to the rescue for Bolton. Kieran Richardson raced onto a Seb Larsson pull-back, and after Derdryck Boyata threw his body in the path, David Wheater's sliding tackle denied the same Sunderland player again.
The passage of play turned out to be Boyata's last involvement of the game as injury forced him from the field just minutes later, with Ricardo Gardner the replacement. The Jamaican slotted in at left-back, with Paul Robinson shifting to the opposite flank.
Shortly after, with 25 minutes remaining, Owen Coyle made two more attack-minded changes as Gael Kakuta made his Premier League debut for the Whites, replacing Petrov, while Ivan Klasnic came on for Kevin Davies up top.
The changes made by the Bolton boss set up for an interesting final quarter of the game as Bolton had plenty of attack-minded match-winners on the field. Sunderland too had options, one of which was £6m man Sessegnon, who forced Jaaskelainen into a necessary save with an angled drive, destined for the far corner on 70 minutes.
Wickham saw a cross deflected onto the crossbar before Sessegnon did get the breakthrough goal late on. A corner from the left was half-cleared by Robinson, and after a brief goalmouth scramble, Sessegnon spun to hammer a right-foot effort just inside the near post.
There were a couple of late chances to rescue a point for the Whites, but on a day when luck in the final third was hard to find, they both went begging. Kakuta dragged a shot wide from the edge of the box and Pratley, having breached the Sunderland back-four following a incisive pass by Klasnic, saw a shot from close-range repelled by Mignolet.
Indeed, because Bolton threw everything forward in search of a goal to level the game, they were hit by the sucker punch deep into stoppage time.
A counter-attack by the visitors resulted in their second goal of the afternoon, with Bendtner tucking away Sessegnon's slide-rule pass to secure the win for Steve Bruce's team.
Wanderers: Jaaskelainen, Robinson, Cahill, Wheater, Boyata (Gardner 55), Petrov (Kakuta 65), Pratley, Reo-Coker, Eagles, Kevin Davies (Klasnic 65), Ngog (Subs: Bogdan, Knight, Mark Davies, Tuncay)
Sunderland: Mignolet, Turner, Brown, Larsson, Wickham, Richardson (Bardsley 86), Colback, Vaughan, O'Shea, Sessegnon, Bendtner (Subs: Gardner, Dong, Westwood, Cattermole, Elmohamady)