Report: Brighton 2-1 Bolton
After an encouraging start Wanderers ultimately left the south coast pointless following a narrow defeat at Brighton & Hove Albion.
Matt Mills had given the Trotters the lead after an assured showing for much of the opening period.
But Craig Mackail-Smith levelled on the stroke of half time with Adam Bogdan forced off with a cut to the eye in the build up.
And after the interval Joao Teixeria smuggled home what would prove to be the decisive goal on the hour mark.
There was just a second senior start for Hayden White at right-back, who filled the void left by the injured Kevin McNaughton.
Neil Danns and Medo Kamara were the other two changes from Bolton’s midweek defeat against Middlesbrough at Macron Stadium.
The home side weaved pretty patterns in the opening throes of the game, though their play lacked any real incision against a solid-looking Bolton backline.
Bruno and Jake Forster-Caskey fired a couple of early warning shots from distance that Bogdan was well in control of.
On 15 minutes the Trotter manufactured their opening chance of the contest.
Lee Chung-Yong started and almost finished a slick counter-attacking move down the left side. The Korean met a loose ball in the area following Craig Davies’ cut-back but when off-balance could only steer a first-time shot over the bar.
Bolton were visibly growing into the contest.
White superbly bombed down the right flank before pulling back from the right byline into a dangerous area with the Brighton defenders scrambling away.
The home side responded with a few more speculative efforts. Liverpool loanee Joao Teixeria fired into the side netting before Bruno smashed over from 25 yards.
But Wanderers were rewarded for their on-point start to the contest with the opening goal on 25 minutes.
Mills rose high in a crowded area to loop a header from Jay Spearing’s set piece into the far corner of the net.
Brighton’s frustrations grew, as Bogdan superbly tipped Mackail-Smith’s curling shot from the edge of the area onto the crossbar on 34 minutes.
But on 37 minutes Brighton found a way through.
Inigo Calderon and Bruno linked up down the right side, with the latter’s low cross steered home at the far post by Mackail-Smith.
Wanderers were dealt a further blow, with Bogdan forced off the field with a cut to his left eye after colliding with White in the run-up to the goal. Andrew Lonergan came on in his place.
Spearing then cleared off the line following Gordon Greer’s header from a corner before Lonergan somehow kept out Lewis Dunk’s effort following a melee in the area.
Wanderers gathered themselves at the interval and started the second period in the ascendancy.
Joe Mason flicked a long pass on for Craig Davies who then curled within a lick of paint of the far post.
But on 64 minutes the home side took the lead.
Teixeria cut infield from the left flank before digging out a low shot that zipped through a ruck of players and into the net.
Brighton suddenly had the wind in their sails and almost added to their lead when Andrew Crofts’ volley flew wide of Lonergan’s post.
Dougie Freedman introduced Liam Trotter and Liam Feeney in an attempt to find a route back into the game.
And despite plenty of huffing and puffing, chances were at a real premium.
For the umpteenth time White bombed down the right and into the area late on, only for a scrum of defenders to scramble the ball clear as the hosts held on for victory.