Wanderers suffered a 4-2 defeat at the hands of Rotherham United at The AESSEAL New York Stadium on Tuesday evening.
Ben Pringle opened the scoring for the Millers, while Conor Sammon and Paul Green added a goal apiece before the half time break for the home side.
Matt Derbyshire made it four shortly before the hour mark, but Wanderers were soon back in the clash courtesy of goals from Liam Trotter and Matt Mills.
Despite the Whites pushing late on in a bid to stage a grandstand finish in South Yorkshire, their efforts were to prove fruitless as the home side ran out winners.
Wanderers’ starting line-up boasted three changes to the side who drew with Liverpool in the fourth round of the FA Cup at Anfield on Saturday, with Andrew Lonergan, Conor Wilkinson and Andy Kellett coming into the team in place of Adam Bogdan,
Dean Moxey and Emile Heskey.
For the home side, there was a place on the bench for former Wanderer Danny Ward who recently joined the club on a permanent deal from fellow Championship side Huddersfield Town.
The half began with trepidation from both sides, with neither able to forge any meaningful runs on goal inside the opening minute of the game.
With the first attack of the match however, the hosts opened the scoring in the third minute through Ben Pringle who was found unmarked at the far post, with the midfielder hammering home on the half volley.
Rotherham’s pressure continued, with Lonergan being forced to tip a lofty ball into the area over his crossbar with a number of bodies lurking, while Paul Green’s deft effort from just outside the box cleared the post by inches.
From that point on, the two sides proceeded to cancel each other out in the middle of the park somewhat, with chances in front of goal being few and far between inside the remainder of the opening quarter.
Following a lack of opportunities however, Rotherham doubled their advantage in the 23rd minute as Conor Sammon turned home the rebound after Lonergan had parried Matt Derbyshire’s initial strike.
Steve Evans’ side’s second had Wanderers stunned, but they were soon on the hunt for a route back into the clash with Darren Pratley seeing his shot from the edge of the box skew wide of the mark on the half hour mark.
With the clock ticking down to the half time break, the Whites were the team in the ascendancy as they looked to gain a foothold in the game and saw Neil Danns try his luck from distance, only to see his effort narrowly clear the crossbar.
Eidur Gudjohnsen enjoyed a glorious chance to halve the deficit in the 40th minute as Tim Ream’s drilled ball into the middle of the box eluded everybody but the Icelander, but he was unable to adjust his body and saw his shot skew wide of the
Wanderers were left calling for a penalty kick just before half time as Josh Vela tumbled in the box, but the referee remained unmoved despite the Bolton players’ protestations.
Right from the madness however, Rotherham hit Wanderers on the counter attack with Paul Green nodding home at the far post for the Millers to make it three for the home side at the break.
There were no changes for either side at half time, with Wanderers the first to press forward in the second period as Kellett found Gudjohnsen, only for the frontman to be deemed marginally offside.
Bolton were left calling for yet another spot-kick in the 49th minute as Wilkinson was seemingly felled in the box, but yet again the Whites’ calls were fruitless.
Wanderers introduced Liam Trotter into the mix in place of Kellett five minutes into the second half, while Lonergan was called into action shortly after to parry Derbyshire’s strike away from the top corner of the goal.
The striker didn’t make the same mistake twice however, with his looping effort in the 57th minute eluding the Bolton keeper to make it four for the home side.
Sammon almost had his second of the game on the hour mark, but Lonergan was on his guard to tip his header over the crossbar.
Wanderers however still continued to push forward, with Feeney seeing his effort from close range blocked at the death with 67 minutes on the clock, while a number of other Bolton attacks ultimately came to nothing.
Having been introduced as a second half substitute, Trotter snatched a goal back for Wanderers in the 77th minute after collecting Mills’ header down before calmly slotting home beyond Adam Collin.
It was a second for the Whites just two minutes later as Mills notched himself, heading up from close range following a commotion in the Rotherham penalty area to the delight of the travelling Bolton faithful.
Sensing a late rally, Wanderers threw men forward inside the closing stages of the clash in a bid to force a grandstand finish with Pratley going down in the area with five minutes remaining only for the referee to wave away yet more claims for a
With five minutes of added time indicated, the Whites pushed forward in their numbers but the home side stood firm to run out winners on the night.