Ten-man Wanderers suffered a late defeat at home to Reading on Saturday afternoon.
Bolton were dealt a blow halfway through the first period when Rob Holding was adjudged to have brought down Matej Vydra in the area with the academy graduate receiving a red card in the process.
Vydra proceeded to miss the resulting spot-kick, with Ben Amos guessing correctly to smother his effort, but the visitors stole the victory on the stroke of the 90 as Ola John unleashed from all of 30 yards out to break the Trotters’ hearts.
Wanderers’ starting XI boasted the inclusion of Ben Amos on his comeback from injury while academy graduate Niall Maher was handed his Bolton debut.
Amongst the substitutes meanwhile was 17-year-old striker Alex Samizadeh, with former Whites keeper Ali Al-Habsi turning out against his former employers for the Royals.
The visitors started brightly at Macron Stadium with Wanderers being put under pressure early on.
The home side responded well however with Kaiyne Woolery’s pace proving to be a bone of contention for the Reading defence inside the opening ten minutes although goalmouth action was kept to a minimum.
With the majority of play being contested in the middle third of the pitch, the first real chance of the game came in the 15th minute, but Matej Vydra somehow put his header from all of two yards out over.
Bolton almost replied in the perfect fashion with a full-force tackle from Darren Pratley to steal possession seeing Zach Clough break downfield, with the little man unable to capitalise after Reading got back to defend.
Out of nowhere however, Wanderers were dealt a cruel blow in 22nd minute as Holding was deemed to have brought down Vydra in the area with the academy graduate also harshly awarded a red card.
Vydra himself stepped up to take the resulting spot-kick, but Amos guessed the correct way and smothered his effort to keep the scores level.
The game then fell into a tempestuous affair with players all over the pitch flying into tackles left, right and centre, Stephen Dobbie just one casualty of a Yann Kermorgant elbow with the Scot forced to be replaced by Liam Trotter.
The passion was clear to see from Wanderers, with bodies being put on the line to keep Bolton level in the clash.
The hosts were by no means out of it though, although they did find themselves on the backfoot for the most part with Vydra a constant threat.
With the clock running down to the half time break, the Bolton faithful were letting their thoughts known to the officials and with three minutes of additional time added on, Wanderers looked to sneak ahead despite their
With no changes for either side at the break, the second period got underway with the game finely balanced, despite Reading’s man advantage.
Wanderers were more than holding their own though, although their opportunities in front of goal were largely restricted to long balls downfield.
The Royals were struggling to create anything in front of goal themselves meanwhile, with Kermorgant putting a header wide of the far post despite seemingly having the net at his mercy.
Clough had the Whites’ first real sight of goal in the second half on the hour mark, with the 21-year-old turning his man on the edge of the area before unleashing a shot which Al-Habsi eventually clearing the danger.
Amos was called into action shortly after, with the keeper having to be on his guard to parry away Williams’ shot from outside the box before reacting to save Stephen Quinn’s follow-up.
Fresh from international duty with Guyana, Neil Danns was brought into the fray with 22 minutes remaining with the midfielder replacing Woolery.
Chances were still few and far between as the match entered its final quarter-hour, but it was slowly falling in Reading’s favour in regards to possession and pressure with Bolton defending deeply.
David Wheater was called into action with ten minutes remaining as the towering centre-half firstly blocked an Ola John cross and then scrambled Paul McShane’s header away from the corner of the net with a goal seemingly imminent.
Quinn enjoyed a chance from distance with four minutes remaining, unleashing from distance, but the post came to Bolton’s rescue as his effort cannoned off the woodwork.
With two minutes to go, Jimmy Phillips made his final change with Emile Heskey coming on in place of Clough, but out of nowhere the visitors won it courtesy of a 30-yard strike by John which gave Amos no chance.
So cruel on Bolton, four minutes of additional time were indicated but the hosts were unable to force an equaliser as Reading held out.