It was the kind of explosive finale that could prove critical for the prospects of Millwall. They were on course for their fourth defeat in Ian Holloway's seven matches in charge and certainly the most damaging. Bolton Wanderers, one of their rivals in the relegation battle this season, looked set to win, undeservedly, courtesy of a first-half header from Lukas Jutkiewicz and some valiant goal-line defending. But after Jutkiewicz missed a prime chance to double Bolton's lead with a 78th-minute penalty, Martyn Woolford punished them royally.
The equaliser came on a counterattack; Steve Morison's delicious low cross found the substitute Simeon Jackson at the back post and, though his first-time shot was initially repelled, Woolford squeezed home the rebound from a tight angle. It may only be a point, but Holloway hailed it as a "massive step forwards".
"I would have enjoyed it even if we'd lost," he said, "because they're listening to me and I can sense there's a spirit coming within the team."
Bolton had taken the lead in the 15th minute with a goal which seemed to arrive in slow motion. Chris Eagles's delivery from the left flank was met by an angled header from Jutkiewicz, which hit the inside of the post before looping into the net; it was the 59th league goal Millwall had conceded this season and David Forde in the Millwall goal watched it like an agonised spectator.
The home side responded positively and twice came within inches of scoring. In the 21st minute, Bolton's Alex Baptiste gifted Woolford the ball yards from goal when he botched a clearance, but Woolford's goal-bound shot was miraculously scooped over the bar by David Wheater. Then Adam Bogdan, the Bolton keeper, afforded the unmarked Jermaine Easter a shot at goal from inside the penalty box, but Easter dallied needlessly before hitting a tame shot at Baptiste, who was back on the line.
In Millwall's previous match, a 1-1 draw at bottom of the table Yeovil, Holloway had named four recognised strikers in his starting lineup. Only Morison kept his place for the visit of Bolton, but, early in the second half, Holloway decided to reinstate the benched trio of Jackson, Scott McDonald and DJ Campbell. "It looked like deja vu except we were creating chances. But I knew I had my gun-powder on the bench," Holloway said.
Millwall took control thereafter, yet when Danny Shittu handled in the box, it appeared that they would be condemned to defeat. Instead Forde plunged to save the low penalty, and within minutes Millwall were celebrating the goal they thoroughly deserved. Dougie Freedman, the Bolton manager, was satisfied with his side's performance, but Holloway was withering of his opponents' showing: "I would be bored senseless [if I were him]," he said.