IVAN Klasnic grabbed the only goal to end Wigan’s Wembley dream for another year.
Having made nine changes to the side that drew at Liverpool at the weekend, it’s fair to say Roberto Martinez will probably not be losing much sleep over the result.
And the Latics boss can have no complaints really after Wanderers had two goals disallowed for offside before the Croatian striker scored the only goal at the three-quarter mark.
Wigan, too, had a goal chalked off from Momo Diame, while Jordi Gomez hit the crossbar with a nice effort just after Bolton took the lead.
But Martinez and his men will be able to concentrate fully on the remaining 11 matches of the Premier League season – with the luxury of a weekend off ahead of the massive visit of Manchester United on Saturday week.
Only Diame and skipper Gary Caldwell retained their places in the starting XI, and unsurprisingly the visitors settled the quicker.
Chung-Yong Lee fired wide of Mike Pollitt’s goal before Bolton had the ball in the net with less than three minutes remaining.
Martin Petrov was afforded too much time and space 30 yards from goal, and his shot was only parried by Pollitt into the path of Johan Elmander, who slotted home.
Fortunately for Latics, the linesman’s flag was up and the effort was chalked off.
The home side came close themselves two minutes later, when Ronnie Stam’s cross took a ricochet off the studs of David Wheater, and goalkeeper Adam Bogdan took two attempts before sweeping up.
There was similar confusion in the Wigan ranks on the 20-minute mark, when Caldwell stabbed the ball back to where he thought Pollitt was, but the goalkeeper had moved to the other side of his goal.
Elmander swooped on the loose ball, but his shot was well smothered by Pollitt at the expense of a corner.
Klasnic, his strike partner, then found himself one-one-one with Pollitt, but the boyhood Bolton fan stayed big and made a good save diving to his right.
Callum McManaman was looking lively down the Wigan left-hand side, but he paid the price for coming inside to get involved when he was caught in the face by the stray boot of Fabrice Muamba – the man responsible for James McCarthy’s recent three-month lay-off.
McManaman had to leave the field with blood pouring from a nasty gash, to have stitches applied, while Muamba received the game’s first yellow for his trouble.
Wanderers won another corner when Petrov’s shot was tipped over by Pollitt, before Elmander struck the left-hand post with a free-kick that beat both the wall and the goalkeeper.
Victor Moses then appeared off the bench with McManaman unable to continue, and Latics ended the half with a shot from Jordi Gomez that flashed by the upright.
Moses hit the side-netting with the first chance of the second period, before Bolton were forced into a change when Sam Ricketts had to be stretchered off, Marcos Alonso replacing him.
James McArthur also fired inches wide of the post after Moses played him in, before Muamba blew a great chance to score when he was played in by Klasnic, only for an awful touch to let him down.
There then followed an amazing sequence of three ‘goals’ in the space of three minutes, although only one of them counted in the scorebook.
First, Petrov’s cross was lashed home by Elmander, only for the Swede to turn and see the offside flag up.
Latics weren’t so fortunate on 66 minutes when Davies played in Klasnic, who beat Pollitt with a clinical left-foot strike from 15 yards.
It was almost 1-1 within a minute, though, when Gomez slipped a nice ball through for Diame to finish, but the Frenchman had gone too early and the flag was up on the near side.
Gomez elected to shoot on 69 minutes after good work down the right from Franco di Santo, and the Spaniard was desperately unlucky to see the shot beat Bogdan but strike the bar and bounce to safety.
Try as they might, Latics couldn’t even force a save from Bogdan let alone an equaliser in the closing stages that would have forced a further 30 minutes that neither side would have been grateful for.