Report | Bolton 2-0 Millwall
Millwall's impressive winning run of five on the spin came to an end at Bolton as goals in either half-half from Josh Vela (17mins) and sub Tom Thorpe secured a 'double' for Wanderers.
The two teams met at The Den just last month when Phil Parkinson's side recorded a 2-0 victory, and The Trotters' repeat scoreline on a bitterly cold afternoon at the Macron Stadium sent Neil Harris' charges sliding to only their second loss in nine games.
Harris kept the same side that dispatched with Bristol Rovers so emphatically last weekend, the only changes coming on the bench where Christian Mbulu joined Jimmy Abdou and Shane Ferguson, the latter two of whom had returned from international duty.
The Lions made a bright start and in the opening couple of minutes a slick interchange between Harry Smith and Aiden O'Brien saw the latter's 16-yard effort curl past the right upright.
There was an early shout for a penalty when Lee Gregory appeared to be held back as he tried to work his way into the danger zone, but the appeals from the Millwall camp fell on deaf ears.
Former Lions midfielder Liam Trotter was the first name in referee Paul Tierney's book after just seven minutes for a professional foul on the lively Gregory, but the home side recovered from a shaky start and gradually settled into their stride.
The game had just passed the quarter hour mark when Bolton broke the deadlock with a quality finish from Vela, who took charge when Fred Onyedinma's clearance from a Jay Spearing shot fell kindly to Vela, and he volleyed into the top right corner.
Millwall tried to muster a quick respsonse and Onyedinma was just off target with a glancing 24th-minute header from left-back Joe Martin's driven cross.
Bolton had the ball in the net again on 29 minutes when Trotter slotted home from close range after Archer had parried Zach Clough's initial effort, but the linesman's flag had already been raised.
Another former Lion, Mark Beevers, was thwarted by Archer after 35 minutes, after using his long legs to pick a way into the left side of the penalty area before seeing his crisp angled pushed behind at Archer's near post.
The visitors were forced to make a change a couple of minutes later when Gegeory gingerly walked off holding his lower back, to be replaced by David Worrall. The sub took his place on the right flank with Onyedinma moving up front to partner Smith, a pairing that had worked so well in the 3-1 win at Luton Town.
Derik Osede did well to divert Onyedinma's inviting delivery behind after the front man had linked up well with Mahlon Romeo on the counter attack as Millwall prised and probed, but it was Bolton who nearly doubled their tally in first-half stoppage time when Jay Spearing's looping header from a Clough cross smacked the top of the crossbar. Justice was done, however, as Lions midfielder Williams had clearly been fouled in the build-up.
Trotters boss Parkinson brought on Thorpe for Trotter at the start of the second-half and the sub was inches away from making an instant impact, catching everyone out with floating a free-kick that dropped inches past the post.
Thorpe was not to be denied a goal and within eight minutes of his introduction another deep corner from Spearing picked out his team-mate, who this time planted a firm header into the back of the net.
Bolton had the bit between their teeth now and it took a smart save low to his right by Archer to keep out a low skidder from Sammy Ameobi. Moments earlier the striker had burst into the penalty area but been unable to squeeze a shot in.
The Lions were not lacking in effort but found it difficult to make any real headway against a well-drilled Bolton side as the game headed towards the final 10 minutes. Harris introduced Ferguson and then Calum Butcher in a bid to add fresh impetus and for the remaining minutes it was the visitors who dominated.
O'Brien scooped an effort over the bar after Smith and Worrall had combined to set him up and The Lions spurned another opportunity to get a foothold back in the game on 84 minutes when Smith directed a free header past the post after a lovely build-up down the right involving Romeo.
Despite really giving it a go, The Lions were frustrated by a resolute home rearguard and headed back down south with the rare taste of defeat in their mouths.
Bolton: Alnwick, Beevers, Vela, Spearing, (Henry, 74'), Madine (Proctor, 86'), Osede, Trotter (Thorpe, 46'), Taylor, Ameobi, Wilson. Subs not used: Turner, Buxton, Moxey, Anderson.
Booking: Trotter (7')
Scorers: Vela (17'), Thorpe (57')
Millwall: Archer, Martin (Ferguson, 78'), Craig, Williams, Thompson (Butcher, 83'), Gregory (Worrall, 38'), Onyedinma, Romeo, Webster, O'Brien, Smith. Subs not used: King, Cummings, Mbulu, Abdou.
Booking: Williams (34')
Ref: P. Tierney
Att: 13,110 (away 640)