Mario Jardel boosted Bolton's Carling Cup challenge with a double on his full debut against Walsall.
The big Brazilian headed a 14th-minute opener then fired home a penalty rebound in the second half of a superb display.
Jardel had also rattled the Walsall crossbar and narrowly failed to complete his hat-trick with a diving header 10 minutes from time.
Kevin Nolan's clattering 69th-minute drive had appeared to make the game safe for the Premiership side - but four minutes later Paul Merson temporarily reduced the deficit.
Jardel wrapped up the win by following up his initial spot-kick which was saved by keeper James Walker but knocked straight back into the striker's path.
Merson had the ball in the net in the seventh minute but referee Roy Pearson signalled a foul by Deon Burton in the previous challenge with Poole.
At the other end captain Jay-Jay Okocha let fly from 25 yards but flashed his shot wide of Walker's right-hand post.
Ibrahim Ba then knocked down Per Frandsen's cross into Jardel's path for the Brazilian to head home.
Bolton's star summer signing hammered a close-range 56th minute effort against the crossbar from another Pedersen cross.
Pedersen was instrumental in teeing up Nolan for his magnificent right-foot drive which appeared to have seen the Premiership outfit safely through.
But to their credit Walsall never gave up and Merson converted from close range in the 76th minute.
The goal threatened a few anxious moments until Jardel's penalty completed a relatively comfortable win.
Bolton: Poole, Hunt, N'Gotty, Barness, Charlton, Ba, Frandsen, Nolan, Okocha, Pedersen, Jardel. Subs: Bon, Comyn-Platt, Giannakopoulos, Davies, Gardner.
Walsall: Walker, Bazeley, Emblen, Ritchie, Aranalde, Lawrence, Merson, Samways, Osborn, Burton, Corica. Subs: Kerr, Leitao, Birch, Kris Taylor, Fryatt.
Referee: R Pearson (Co Durham).