once more treated a two-goal lead like a curse rather than a blessing but in a surprisingly compelling game West Ham
paid for another poor start.
Matt Taylor and Kevin Davies, who each scored for Bolton in a crazy two minutes early in the game, deserved to be on the winning side and on this evidence, Taylor can hope to emulate Davies and defender Gary Cahill, who both featured in England manager Fabio Capello's long list for the Spain friendly.
But Gary Megson's team allowed West Ham back into the game just as they had let in Blackburn and Tottenham in January, and the Hammers' Scott Parker capped a fine display with a well-deserved goal.
Quick on the draw: Kevin Davies (left) and Matt Taylor gave Bolton the ideal start
Bolton v West Ham: How the game unfolded
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WEST HAM NEWS FROM ACROSS THE WEB
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It left the home fans fearing an equaliser until referee Steve Tanner blew the final whistle after three minutes of added time.
Megson said: 'As soon as we go 2-0 up, there's an air of apprehension and we start playing differently.
'It would be wrong to criticise because we've won what I think was the biggest game of our season so far, but we have to have a little bit more confidence and belief in ourselves that we've got good players.'
Taylor's fantastic free kick, aided by Robert Green's suspect positioning but rightly acclaimed by both managers, was soon followed by Davies' 11th-minute finish from Johan Elmander's cross. But Bolton seem at their most vulnerable when they are two goals ahead It did not matter so much in the first half because West Ham lacked fluency, just as they had done against Middlesbrough in the FA Cup.
Great Scott: Parker pulled one back for the Hammers
When they did break the increasingly sloppy home offside trap, they showed the same profligacy which had almost cost them dear against Middlesbrough.
Mark Noble, again off key, passed when he should have shot at the end of the move of the match and goalkeeper Jussi Jaaskelainen saved his follow-up lob.
David Di Michele, again looking too slight and slow for the Premier League, shot embarrassingly wide after cutting in from the flank.
All-action Taylor cleared Carlton Cole's header off the line early in the second half before forcing Green into a save at the other end, but it was only after West Ham manager Gianfranco Zola threw on a third striker in the shape of Savio that the momentum of the game really changed.
Net loss: Robert Green is beaten by Matt Taylor's free kick
Within three minutes the rampaging Parker had turned in Jonathon Spector's cross and the home fans then endured a nervous 25 minutes as West Ham piled on the pressure.
The visitors created only one decent chance, but Cahill's fantastic sliding block denied Di Michele and defeat means mid-table security is surely the best West Ham can hope for now.
Zola said: 'It's a pity because the performance was of a team that probably deserved something more.
'We knew the first 15 minutes would be vital. The first goal was a great goal but the second one, maybe we could have done better. It's a good lesson for us for the future.
'Football-wise, nobody would disagree that we played better than them.' But nobody connected with Bolton will have cared, either.