Wanderers came from behind to secure a 3-2 victory against Port Vale in the Papa John's Trophy at the University of Bolton Stadium.
Wanderers started the tie on the front foot against the Sky Bet League Two side and Nathan Delfouneso did well to move into a pocket of space and thread a pass through into the path of Eoin Doyle who dragged a shot across goal and wide of the target.
Ian Evatt's men were growing into the contest and after Harry Brockbank had seen a shot blocked after being teed up by Elias Kachunga, the energetic Lloyd Isgrove saw a shot from distance blocked after he had won the ball off Ben Garrity high up the field.
Alex Baptiste was the next to try to beat Aidan Stone in the Vale goal, but he could only glance a header wide of the target after latching onto Andrew Tutte's cross into the box after he was picked out by Isgrove.
The opening goal did come just before the half-hour mark and was a goal that began with hard work and was finished with real quality. Wanderers pressed high up the field and forced Vale into losing the ball; Isgrove punished the opposition with a fantastic weighted pass into the path of Eoin Doyle who made no mistake with the finish.
Wanderers weren't ahead for long. Tom Conlon found himself in a yard of space inside the box, and his shot from a relatively tight angle found its way underneath the body of Matt Gilks to level things up again.
Before the break, Wanderers' hard work had been undone as Vale took the lead. Devante Rodney threatened to pull the trigger himself, but he teed up David Amoo inside the box to lash a deflected shot past a helpless Gilks. The first half ended with disappointment and Ian Evatt's men had work to do in the second half.
Rodney scuffed a shot wide in the early stages of the second half after Delfouneso had lost possession in a dangerous area of the field, but it was the Wanderers attacker who found the equaliser shortly afterwards. Capping a fantastic flowing move, he latched onto Isgrove's cross to thunder a header past Stone.
Wanderers' tails were up and the team went on the hunt for another goal. The next effort came from Kachunga, with the forward seeing a swerving strike from distance kept out rather uncomfortably by Stone.
Isgrove had a fantastic evening and provided assists for two of the three goals, and he almost found the net himself. Stepping up to take a free-kick 20 yards from goal, he had the beating of the wall and of Stone in the goal, but the ball cannoned back off the post.
Tutte skewed a shot wide of the target as the assault on Vale's goal began to gather pace, and minutes later Wanderers took the lead through substitute Dapo Afolayan. Receiving a pass from Liam Gordon, the attacker turned on the ball inside the area and lashed an unstoppable low shot into the back of the net via the inside of the post.
Garrity spurned an opportunity to test Gilks in the dying embers of the game, but after David Worrall's dangerous cross into the box had been cleared into his path, the midfielder fired a shot over the bar from 25 yards out as Wanderers held on for a victory - their first of the Papa John's Trophy campaign.
Bolton Wanderers: Gilks, Brockbank, Almeida Santos, Baptiste, Gordon, Tutte, Thomason, Isgrove (Afolayan 67), Kachunga (Henry 90+1), Delfouneso, Doyle (Sarcevic 67).
Unused Subs: Dixon, Johnston, Senior, Conway.
Goals: Doyle (28), Delfouneso (54), Afolayan (77).
Port Vale: Stone, Cass, Smith, Johnson, Gibbons (Taylor 55), Benning, Garrity, Pett, Conlon (Worrall 55), Rodney, Amoo (Lloyd 68).
Unused Subs: Covolan, Jones, Martin, Wilson.
Goals: Conlon (35), Amoo (43).