Despite a spirited performance, goals either side of the interval ultimately proved Wanderers’ undoing at high-flying QPR.
Charlie Austin and Karl Henry were both on target for the hosts, who for large parts had been frustrated on their own patch.
And it could have been a different story altogether had Craig Davies’ first half pile driver from distance crashed into the net rather than against the woodwork.
Jay Spearing’s late strike ensured a nervy ending for the hosts, but what would have been a deserved equalised was not forthcoming.
Dougie Freedman made two changes to the side that slipped to a narrow defeat against Premier League opposition in Cardiff City in the FA Cup three days earlier.
A seemingly more steely line-up saw Mark Davies, fresh after missing out on the weekend’s game entirely, and Darren Pratley in from the off. Chung-Yong Lee and Chris Eagles dropped to the bench.
There wasn’t even ten seconds on the clock when Charlie Austin clattered Tim Ream in an aerial dual. The results weren’t pretty. After almost five minutes of treatment from both clubs’ physios Wanderers’ American defender was carried from the field of play and straight down the tunnel with a nasty-looking facial injury.
Hayden White was thrown on for his senior debut, Austin escaped seemingly unscathed.
Bolton more than matched the hosts in the early throes.
A twinkle-toed Mark Davies crafted the contest’s first opening of significance.
The midfielder chased down a loose ball before dispossessing Armand Traore and beating a Clint Hill on the byline. His pull-back found Darren Pratley, who saw a certain goal-bound shot ricochet off a defender into Rob Green’s grasp.
Bolton were absorbing QPR’s pressure well, looking to spring the counter when the opportunity presented itself. Pratley burst onto another calculated long ball before rasping a left-footed shot across the face of Green’s goal.
The Trotters’ confidence continued to grow.
Mark Davies was once again at the hub of another sweeping move, intercepting a pass before setting his namesake Craig in the clear. From the right channel, his first time shot flashed into Green’s side-netting.
Andrew Lonergan was first called into action on the half-hour mark, rushing off his line to claim Niko Kranjcar’s angled cross with Austin ready to pounce.
There was no rest bite for the QPR rear-guard, with Wanderers’ hard-working front four endeavouring to close down the hosts when in possession.
On 35 minutes, following another lapse QPR pass, Craig Davies saw a pile driver of an effort from the angle of the area thunder against the crossbar, with Green a mere spectator.
But Bolton’s hard work was cruelly undone on 41 minutes.
Against the run of play, Matt Phillips’ pinpoint cross from the right was nodded home at back stick by Austin.
Bolton somehow headed into the interval a goal down.
The second half started in the worst possible manner. Harry Redknapp’s side flew out of the traps and were soon two goals to the good.
After initially miss-controlling a clearance from a corner on the edge of the area, Henry arrowed a low volley through a forest of legs and beyond an unsighted Lonergan.
QPR were very much in the ascendancy, though Pratley did loop an instinctive effort wide of the far post from all of 35 yards.
Bolton didn’t throw in the towel. Subs Chung-Yong Lee and Lukas Jutkiewicz added extra impetus to the side’s attacking play.
Lee forced Green into a smart save with a curling effort before Medo whistled a 30-yard within a whisker of the far post.
And on 85 minutes Bolton’s endeavours were eventually rewarded, as Jay Spearing halved the deficit. His low shot after some good work from Lee zipped beyond Green.
It was an admirable effort from Wanderers, but QPR were to hang on and eventually wrap up the points.