The Whites led after 41 minutes courtesy of striker Marvin Sordell, however were hit by two goals in the second half as the Millers secured the win.
Despite the result going against Wanderers, it proved to be a solid first workout for Dougie Freedman’s men, with 20 players in total getting a run out at the New York Stadium.
The boss named new signings Robert Hall and Conor Wilkinson in the starting line-up against League One newcomers Rotherham United. The Bolton boss also handed starts to young pairing Chris Lester and Jan Gregus.
United, under the stewardship of former Crawley Town manager Steve Evans headed into the game against the Whites after a successful pre-season tour of Scotland, playing four matches in total.
The Millers were nearly gifted an early goal with three minutes on the clock when an off balanced Tim Ream sliced his clearance but fortunately for Wanderers the ball drifted wide of the post.
The opening 15 minutes saw Rotherham with the main of possession. Winning a corner after a smart from Matt Mills, Ben Pringle whipped an in-swinging corner to the back post for Karl Arnason to head over.
Wanderers’ first attempt on goal came four minutes later. England U21 international Sordell, who featured for the Three Lions at the U21 European Championships in Isreal last month, couldn’t get any power on his 15-yard strike, resulting in a comfortable save for Scott Shearer.
Winger Robert Hall, making his first start for the club as a permanent player, curled a testing free-kick from the edge of the penalty box from an acute angle but hit the side netting.
With half chances coming at both ends, frontman Sordell found the break through and opened Bolton’s pre-season goal scoring account in the 41st minute.
Hall, a constant menace for the visitors, skipped away from two Rotherham challenges to hit a low cross from the by-line into the feet of Wanderers’ number 19 to side foot home.
United didn’t let their heads drop after conceding, and Jamaican defender Claude Davis should have levelled matters in first half injury time but directed his header over Adam Bogdan’s frame.
The second half began with no changes to the Bolton line-up, likewise for hosts Rotherham United on a hot summer’s evening in Yorkshire.
Midfield dynamo Lee Freklington, previously of Peterborough United, flashed a 20-yard volley inches wide of the left hand post as the Millers continued to search for an equaliser.
United were continuing to pressurise Freedman’s men with strike pairing Alex Revell and Daniel Nardiello both having sights on goal, as Bolton substitutes began to warm up including last season’s top goal scorer Chris Eagles.
The League One’s side resilience finally paid off in the 62nd minute as they levelled matters when Pringle drifted a right footed cross to the back post for Revell to steer a low header past Bogdan.
Bolton quickly reacted and made four changes with Eagles, Marc Tierney, Alex Baptiste and Samni Odelusi all introduced in the 66th minute for Tyrone Mears, Chris Lester, Hall and Mills.
Seven minutes later, Freedman made five more alterations with Darren Pratley, Medo Kamara, Craig Davies, Joe Riley and Zat Knight all coming on in place of Sordell, Wilkinson, Keith Andrews, Ream and Cian Bolger.
The changes saw the Whites see more of the ball as Bolton went in search of a second with Davies rifling a 25-yard effort over the bar and into the Morrison Stand.
However, with four minutes remaining on referee Mark Haywood’s watch, 30-year-old striker Nardiello was put clean through on goal, with the former Manchester United youth team graduate calmly knocking the ball beyond Bogdan to seal the win.
Bolton will continue their pre-season schedule with a trip to Shrewsbury Town on Saturday, 3pm kick-off.
Rotherham: Shearer, Brindley, Skarz (Rowe 87), Arnason, Davis (Rose 57), Worrall, Frecklington, Revell, Nardiello, Pringle (Walker 87), Morgan.
Wanderers: Bogdan, Mears (Baptiste 66), Mills (Tierney 66), Ream (Riley 73), Andrews (Pratley 73), Hall (Odelusi 66), Sordell (Davies 73), Gregus, Wilkinson (Kamara 73), Bolger (Knight 73), Lester (Eagles 66).