A second half hat-trick from Arsenal loanee Benik Afobe earned Bolton Wanderers a 3-1 win over Tranmere on Tuesday night.
The defeat against the Championship club was only Rovers' first of the summer pre-season campaign and was far from one way traffic, with chances in both halves for Ronnie Moore's side before Max Power's late corner was deflected into the net by Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro for a consolation strike.
The first attempt on goal came in the second minute of the game, with Owain Fon Williams quickly called into action. The keeper dived low to his left to keep out Chris Eagles' curling 30 yard free kick after Ash Taylor had fouled Kevin Davies.
The visitors continued their bright start and after Chung Yong-Lee had volleyed just inches past the left hand post from 10 yards on seven minutes, it needed Zoumana Bakayogo to be at his fastest to deny former Rovers loanee Marvin Sordell a one on one shooting opportunity with Fon Williams following an impressive counter attack at a Tranmere corner.
The first chance for Ronnie Moore's side came on 11 minutes. A cross from Andy Robinson deflected inside the Bolton area and after Jake Cassidy's volley was charged down, Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro's follow up effort from the edge of the penalty area was sliced high over the bar.
Robinson curled wide from an acute angle on the left side of the area on 20 minutes while Eagles shot across goal and wide at the opposite end five minutes later.
Sordell, who had just returned to Bolton from Olympic duty with Team GB, met Yong-Lee's right wing cross with a well timed volley on 31 minutes but watched his effort go just past the right hand post.
Rovers captain James Wallace fired across goal and wide from the right side of the area on 35 minutes and the midfielder curled over the bar six minutes later after a strong run through the Bolton half.
Bolton substitute Benik Afobe had a chance to open the scoring in the second minute of the first half when he ran on to a through ball and went one on one with Fon Williams. However, his touch to take the ball around the onrushing keeper was too heavy and took the ball out of play.
But his next chance resulted in Bolton taking the lead. Holmes' attempt at chesting down a cross inside his own area only led to the ball landing straight in the path of Afobe who smashed a first time shot into the roof of the net from 12 yards.
Though Rovers thought they should have had a penalty, a free kick awarded on the edge of the area gave them a chance to level a minute later but Joe Thompson's header back across goal from Zoumana Bakayogo cross was well defended.
Wallace forced Andy Lonergan to tip over his bar on 54 minutes with a fierce drive from just outside the area while penalty appeals at the other end were turned down despite claims of a foul and handball.
Cassidy's back post header from a Robinson cross was blocked by a defender on the hour mark and a couple of corners were well cleared by the visitors as Rovers went in search of an equaliser.
After Robinson cut inside from the left and curled past the top right corner from the edge of the area, Rovers Boss Ronnie Moore freshened things up with the introduction of Abdulai Bell-Baggie in place of Thompson.
However, the winger hadn't been on the pitch for more than three minutes when Wanderers added their second goal. A free kick from Eagles was delivered into the area and Afobe looped a header over Fon Williams and into the net.
Two minutes later the striker completed his hat-trick. The Arsenal loanee controlled the ball on the edge of the area, made himself a yard of space and sent a fine shot into the bottom right corner of the Tranmere goal.
Rovers got on the scoresheet with virtually the last kick of the game when substitute Max Power's corner was deflected into the net off the body of Akpa Akpro.
Tranmere: Fon Williams, Holmes, Taylor, McChrystal, Bakayogo, Thompson (Bell-Baggie 72), Palmer (Harrison 85), Wallace (Power 85), Robinson, Cassidy, Akpa Akpro. Substitutes: Mooney, Kirby, Kay.
Bolton: Lonergan, Alonso, Ream, Eagles (Wylde 76), Knight (Mills 45 HT), Kevin Davies, Mark Davies, Sordell (Afobe 45 HT), Pratley (Vela 65), Riley, Yong-Lee (O'Halloran 79). Substitutes: Bogdan, Mears, Petrov, Lynch.
Referee: Mike Jones