Wanderers slipped to a harsh defeat at the hands of Aston Villa at Villa Park on Saturday afternoon.
The Whites could count themselves unlucky not to have broken the deadlock inside the first half, but were beaten by Jonathan Kodjia from the penalty spot after the Villa man had been fouled in the area with 38 minutes gone.
Bolton rallied in the second period and came within inches of a leveller as Gary Madine saw John Terry clear his header, while Neil Taylor saw red late on for the hosts for a rash challenge on Adam Le Fondre, but the Trotters were denied a share of the spoils.
Wanderers made a handful of changes to the side who started against Bristol City last time out, with Sammy Ameobi coming in from the off and Jem Karacan back in the side after serving his suspension for five yellow cards.
With the rain pouring down at Villa Park, proceedings got underway and it was Wanderers who enjoyed the first sight of goal, but Ameobi’s lofted cross-cum-shot floated just wide of the upright.
And it was the visitors who were enjoying the majority of possession inside the opening stages with Villa being forced onto the backfoot inside the first seven minutes.
Ameobi was in the mix again soon after too, with him dribbling the ball downfield before unleashing a thunderous drive from 25 yards which the goalkeeper had to smother at the second attempt after losing his grip due to its ferocity.
Bolton’s pressure continued thereafter, with Mark Little drilling the ball over the crossbar after some good build-up play around the penalty area by Adam Armstrong and Ameobi.
The home side enjoyed an opportunity of their own in the 17th minute meanwhile, with Conor Hourihane’s volley from 20 yards always flying wide from the moment it left his boot.
The game was very much balanced on a knife edge, with the home side growing frustrated as Bolton gained more of a foothold in the encounter.
Armstrong was proving a threat for the Whites with him coming within inches of connecting with the ball when one on one with Sam Johnstone, while Karacan dribbled his way around three Villa men before seeing his long range shot clear the goalmouth.
Villa then squandered their best opportunity of the game so far when Jonathan Kodjia, despite seemingly offside, attempted to fire the ball into the top corner but was somehow denied by a superb Mark Howard saved.
Just moments later though, they were given a golden chance to score when Mark Beevers was deemed to have fouled the Villa man in the area, with him stepping up to slot home the resulting spot-kick.
A bitter and harsh blow for the Whites, they set about trying to level before the break and did see Armstrong spurn a chance when one on one with Johnstone, only for the Trotters’ No.20 to see his tame shot saved.
And come half time, they trailed by a single goal.
With no changes at the start of the second period, Villa got the game back underway.
And similar to the first half, Wanderers enjoyed a period of possession and even won a free-kick in a promising position in the 51st minute, while Karl Henry’s resulting drive from the edge of the box was blocked.
The hosts were right back at it though, with Bolton having to be on their guard at the back as they pressed forward looking to extend their lead.
Ameobi meanwhile was still in the thick of the Trotters’ attacking opportunities, with his tame 20-yard effort from just outside Villa’s box being calmly collected by Johnstone just short of the hour mark.
That proved to be his last action of the game too, with him being replaced by Craig Noone soon after.
Hourihane very nearly doubled Villa’s advantage in the 70th minute, with his floated free-kick eluding everybody, but Howard was calm enough to see it past his near post.
Bolton weren't a beaten team yet by any stretch of the imagination, with Adam Le Fondre's introduction stating their intent inside the closing stages.
The home side were still looking dangerous though, with Robert Snodgrass' drive being kept out by Howard at his near post as Steve Bruce's side threw men forward to put the result beyond doubt.
With the clock ticking down, Wanderers pushed and saw a Madine header agonisingly cleared off the line with seven minutes to go.
It was all hands to the pump for Bolton, with Wheater putting Johnstone under pressure in the air after Le Fondre had hooked the ball into the mixer.
And with four minutes added on, it was the last chance saloon for the Whites.
Try as they might however, they just couldn't force an equaliser and come full time, Villa - who had Taylor sent off late on - had held out for a slender victory.