Danny Shittu's late own goal enabled relegation-threatened West Brom grab a barely deserved point against Bolton.
Matt Taylor's eighth goal of the season, a neat sidefoot volley from the edge of the box on 67 minutes, looked to have won it for Bolton.
But Robert Koren's left-foot shot took a wicked deflection off substitute Shittu to level matters on 81 minutes.
Even then, it took a late save from Scott Carson to prevent Taylor from snatching victory for Bolton.
In a game West Brom realistically had to win, they rarely looked like doing so and even a fortunate point will do little to ease fears of a seemingly inevitable relegation.
With their next two games against Stoke and Portsmouth, this fixture signalled the start of a period of must-win matches for Tony Mowbray's side - and they started brightly.
On-loan Arsenal striker Jay Simpson, recalled up front as Mowbray reverted to a bolder 4-4-2 formation, looked lively early on alongside strike partner Marc-Antoine Fortune, who was involved in the home side's best early chances.
Fortune's lay-off teed-up James Morrison for a shot that flew wide of the far post and a delightful pass from the Frenchman sent Chris Brunt clear, only for his shot to creep agonisingly wide.
But Bolton gradually took control and Carson was by far the busier of the two keepers.
Mowbray praises Carson contribution
Great work by Kevin Davies set up Taylor for a shot that might have beaten Carson if it had not clipped the team-mate Johan Elmander's heels, with the Swede not quick enough to take evasive action.
And the home side's bright start was nearly eclipsed on the half hour as Taylor's long-range free kick nearly squeezed past Carson.
The keeper, squinting beneath a cap as the late afternoon sun dazzled more than the football, just got a fingertip to the effort and, from the resulting corner, pulled off a fantastic one-handed save to keep out Gary Cahill's point-blank corner.
Carson then palmed away a Taylor free-kick as Bolton finished the first half the stronger.
Another Taylor shot on the hour served further notice of the visitors' increasing dominance and it was no surprise, therefore, when Bolton took the lead - and no real shock that it was the former Portsmouth player who provided the breakthrough.
When the goal came, it was via a route one approach; Jussi Jaskelainen's searching free kick from deep inside the Bolton half tamely defended as the headed clearance dropped for Taylor to clinically sidefoot home from the edge of the box.
The goal woke up the home side, who began to pour forward in what, at times, resembled blind panic.
The Baggies have not had a lot of luck so far this season but it took a massive slice of fortune to level things nine minutes from time.
Megson pleased with Bolton performance
Koren cut in from the right and hit a left-foot shot that was drifting wide before hitting Shittu just below the knee and flying past a helpless Jaskelainen.
Sensing a real lifeline, the home side pushed for a winner and substitute Roman Bednar headed Brunt's searching cross over the bar.
But Bolton nearly won it late on when Elmander's approach play set up Taylor for a one-on-one with Carson, who capped a fine game with a save at the midfielder's feet.
West Brom manager Tony Mowbray: "These are the sort of games we were hoping to win. We didn't. We are disappointed.
"But what do you want me to say? 'Yes, it's over' or 'No, it's not over'?
"I've never questioned the players in terms of them giving up the ghost. You tell me if you think they are giving up the ghost. I don't think so."
Bolton boss Gary Megson on his reception from the West Brom fans:
"It was humbling because I didn't expect it.
"When I arrived, they'd been supporting the team through thin and even thinner times and we managed to pick it up a bit. They were great with me.
"The reception I got was difficult to deal with and I appreciate it."
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