KYLE Dempsey’s second-half thunderbolt kept Wanderers on course for a Wembley return – but they were made to work for their place in the last eight at Accrington.

Cameron Jerome scored his first Bolton goal and Aaron Morley converted a penalty to give Ian Evatt’s side a solid 2-0 lead – but when Alex Henderson snatched one back before half time the game remained awkwardly poised until Dempsey’s 82nd minute punctuation point.

The trophy defence is still on and Ian Evatt will be pleased that having made seven changes, his side still showed durability.

Jerome came in for only his second start of the season up front. Joel Coleman, Luke Matheson, Jack Iredale, Zac Ashworth, Aaron Morley and Jon Dadi Bodvarsson also came into the team, which took a while to warm up on a chilly night.

Accrington started exactly as you would expect them to at home, playing the energetic, fast-paced football which has often caused problems for the Whites.

Jack Nolan, playing on the right side of the attack, looked Stanley’s best bet early on, sending a couple of sighters towards Coleman’s goal.

Already with eight goals to his name this season, the former Reading youth’s persistence caused a few problems for Iredale and Ashworth, with Bolton unable to settle into any rhythm and bring the ball out from the back in their usual way.

Former Wanderers youth product Joe Pritchard also made Coleman work in the opening 15 minutes, the midfielder now thankfully through the injury issues that have dogged his career over the last few years.

Bodvarsson and Jerome had never before started a game together – but moments after Pritchard’s effort they exploded into life, the former flicking the ball on for his strike partner to hassle a mistake out of Brad Hills and then lift the ball over the advancing Joe Walsh for his first goal for the club.

It brought a good response from the home side, who created a couple of half-chances for Josh Woods and then kept Bolton penned in with a succession of set pieces.

Wanderers were getting more reliable on the break, however, and Bodvarsson’s touch in particular was causing issues for the Stanley defenders who did not want to break ranks.

Bodvarsson was part of a glorious break for the second goal, linking up with Dempsey to feed Maghoma on the left side of the penalty box. His feet were too quick for Seamus Conneely, and referee Robert Madley pointed to the spot.

Morley was on the ball immediately. Having celebrated his 100th appearance for Bolton as a sub in the FA Cup, this ground also holds some happy memories. With ice cool nerves he slotted the ball to Walsh’s right to double the lead.

Bodvarsson could have made it three a few minutes later, failing to get Matheson’s cross under his spell, at which point Stanley got themselves back into the game.

Maghoma lost possession far too easily 15 yards outside his own penalty box, giving Henderson the incentive to drive forward and blast a shot past Coleman into the bottom corner.

Dempsey burst through almost instantly and beat keeper Walsh to the ball, his shot bouncing cruelly the wrong side of the post. The same player had a shot blocked right in front of goal by Joe Gubbins and then another effort on the turn dip just over the bar.

Maghoma nearly made amends for his error with a delightful cross to pick out Matheson, who couldn’t get enough on his shot to direct it into the net.

On the balance of play, it was still tight, but Wanderers had created enough chances to feel they should really have been out of sight.

Straight after the restart Will Forrester had a header blocked in front of goal, and Bodvarsson tried a scissor-kick which had the Bolton fans behind the goal on their feet.

They say Stanley are the club that would never die, though, and the men in red continued to make life difficult. Had Nolan been more composed on the hour mark, he would surely have found an equaliser after getting on the end of a good ball from Pritchard.

Wanderers searched for the knockout blow. Morley fizzed a volley over the bar and Matheson failed to turn in another appetising cross from Dempsey. But it was far from coherent, this was another night where the result had to come first, and the style points second.

Jerome set the tone, sprinting back 30 yards to make a challenge at full stretch just outside his own box. Unfortunately, in doing so, he appeared to tweak a muscle and had to be replaced by Victor Adeboyejo in a double substitution that also saw Maghoma swapped for Josh Sheehan.

By the last 15 minutes the home side had impressively managed to build up another head of steam. Nolan brought a good save out of Coleman, and Dan Martin flashed another effort wide. Nothing, it seems, comes easy for Bolton when they make their way to this part of the county.

Bolton needed that moment. And Dempsey supplied it.

Sheehan had already made a difference, adding a much-needed touch of subtlety in midfield, but when he linked up with Dempsey with eight minutes left on the clock, the explosive run and shot was what we had been waiting the whole second half to see.

Dempsey nearly repeated the trick shortly afterwards, his shot deflecting off a defender and just over the bar. The resulting corner ended in a scuffle and a yellow card for home defender Hills, then teased mercilessly by 2,346 travelling fans.

Sheehan’s touch of class nearly created a fourth for Bodvarsson, whose toe-poke could not beat Walsh. Mattheson also flashed a shot wide as he completed his second 90 minutes of the season.