Report: Albion 1 Bolton Wanderers 1
Dominant Albion were denied all three points by a last-gasp David Ngog equaliser after Bruno had opened the scoring with his first goal for the club.
Gus Poyet’s side bossed the game against their former Premier League opponents, and in truth could have scored more as they saw the ball bounce off the crossbar three times during the opening period.
Albion were quick out of the blocks at a sodden Amex Stadium and Craig Mackail-Smith and Liam Bridcutt both had shots at goal before a flurry of activity began.
After just 14 minutes Mackail-Smith broke into the box before cutting back a cross, which was handled in the Bolton box by Darren Pratley.
Ashley Barnes stepped up to take the spot kick but was denied by Trotters keeper Adam Bogdan, diving low to his right. The ball bounced back to the Albion striker but the keeper managed to deny him a second time while on the floor.
Just two minutes later Bogdan was beaten by Andrea Orlandi only for the ball to bounce back off the crossbar, then a minute later Dean Hammond’s shot was heading for the top right corner, only for Bogdan to tip the ball onto the bar with a brilliant diving save.
The Hungarian keeper made another diving stop to deny Mackail-Smith before the striker was picked out by Buckley six yards out. Mackail-Smith guided his header past Bogdan, but the ball bounced back off the crossbar again.
The visitors did little to trouble the goal of Tomasz Kuszczak – returning to the side following an infected finger – but Ngog got a powerful strike away on the brink of half-time, only for Gordon Greer to throw his body in the way to block the shot from 12 yards.
The half-time break did little to break Albion’s stride, and Hammond had a chance within second of the restart, but his chipped effort floated over the bar.
But in the 53rd minute Albion's persistence was rewarded, and a stunning goal it was. Orlandi’s free-kick was headed clear by Zat Knight, but only to Bruno 25 yards out. The former Valencia right-back brought the ball down with his thigh before firing the ball into the top left corner, on the half-volley.
Poyet’s side were not content with the 1-0 lead and on the hour mark Orlandi had a stunning chance to open his Albion goalscoring account; Buckley’s cross made its way to the Spaniard at the back post and he attempted to guide the ball into the gaping goal, but Bogdan scrambled to deny the effort.
And minutes later Orlandi was a fraction out as his shot shaved the outside of Bogdan’s goal.
Bolton boss Dougie Freedman sent on experienced striker Kevin Davies and Jacob Butterfield as he opted for the more direct route.
Davies, Ngog and Butterfield all linked up to present the latter with a chance on the angle of the Albion box, but a weak shot was well saved by Kuszczak diving low to his right.
With 15 minutes remaining Freedman threw his last roll of the dice, introducing Jay Spearing, on loan from Liverpool, while Poyet bolstered his midfield with Andrew Crofts replacing Barnes.
Will Hoskins could have capped the afternoon off with a late second goal, when the ball dropped to him following a flowing Albion counter-attack, but he too was denied by Bogdan, who was in fine form throughout.
The Seagulls were required to soak up some late pressure as the visitors pushed hard for an equaliser but restricted the Trotters to long-range shots until the final kick of the game.
Bolton midfielder Chris Eagles beat Bruno down the left wing before pulling the ball back to Ngog 12 yards out, and his shot found the net, bouncing in off the foot of the right post.