FULL TIME: Wanderers 3 Bristol City 2
Wanderers completed a stunning second-half comeback to give Jimmy Phillips a morale-boosting, if cold sweat-inducing, victory.
After falling two goals behind inside the first 20 minutes, the Whites dug in deep to score three times in the final hour of the game to record an impressive fightback.
For Bolton-born-and-bred Phillips, it was a thrilling first game in caretaker charge – even if the manner in which it was achieved was anything but routine.
“I'm going greyer day by day, my missus keeps telling me that, but it's nothing to do with the football,” he laughed after the final whistle.
“Even after we'd gone 2-0 down we encouraged the players to keep playing football, to keep the ball down and to up the tempo.
“We knew we had to move it quicker and then the gaps would appear in what was a very resilient Bristol City defence in the second half.
“I thought our goals in the second half came from some terrific forward play.”
Steven Davies gave the Robins a shock lead just three minutes in with a fine volley from Stephen Pearson's cross, and then doubled his side's lead on 21 minutes from the spot, after Tim Ream had tripped Martin Woolford.
The American defender was back in the team for the first time in seven games, and was one of three changes made by the interim staff – with Martin Petrov and Benik Afobe replacing David Ngog and Keith Andrews from the team beaten by Millwall in Owen Coyle's last game in charge.
Chris Eagles restored hope with his sixth goal of the season, drilling home a free kick from the edge of the area.
And Wanderers should have had a penalty a minute before the break when Cole Skuse wrestled down Afobe in the area, but they didn't let that dent their confidence, and the football continued to flow after the restart.
After Mark Davies and Afobe had gone close, it fell to the unlikely figure of Jay Spearing to get his side level.
He burst through on to Kevin Davies's weighted pass to finish neatly, and you sensed Bristol City were there for the taking.
Tom Heaton tipped over a fearsome drive from Petrov before the Bulgarian winger finally beat the Robins stopper from closer in, having run on to a great interchange between Chung-Yong Lee and Eagles.
Despite a couple of anxious moments late on as the visitors threw everything forward, it had been the best 45 minute performance of Wanderers season – and arguably of the last 18 months at home.
And for the local lads in the dugout, it had been an excellent day.
“The fans were fantastic and it was great we could give them something to sing about,” Phillips added.