In a stadium which has seen more than its fair share of odd refereeing calls down the years, this case of mistaken identity might actually be the worst.
But despite a horrendous error from Yorkshire official Tom Nield, which saw goalscorer Dion Charles sent off in the first half for an offence committed by his team-mate Elias Kachunga, Ian Evatt’s side held on for what will surely go down as a famous three points.
There was no hint of the madness to come when Wanderers opened the scoring six minutes in.
Clearly seeking to atone the weekend’s mistakes, Bolton immediately got on the front foot to attack a visiting defence that had conceded in each of their last 15 away games.
Charles grabbed his 13th of the season with a deft finish from Gethin Jones’s right-wing cross but there was also beauty to be found in the build-up, where Shola Shoretire’s combination with Conor Bradley had cut a swathe into the penalty box.
Rovers did their best to put teen playmaker Shoretire off his game, Regan Hendry seemingly tasked with swapping shirts as early as he possibly could.
And alongside him in midfield, Kyle Dempsey was also in combative mood. Winning two consecutive 50-50 challenges in his own half he managed to send Shoretire into space on the edge of the box but unfortunately on this occasion the youngster’s shot was wayward.
Rovers – wearing one of the jazzier away strips we have seen at the UniBol this season – flashed a few crosses into the Bolton box to keep home defenders on their toes. But, overall, it was comfortable, and provided the Whites continued to play through midfield with the same tempo you could only really see them extending their lead.
That, to coin a phrase, is when all hell broke loose.
When referee Neild first halted play as Wanderers attacked down the right, few around the stadium had a clue as to the reason. A couple of Forest Green defenders jogged over to speak to the Wakefield official, who was by then moving towards the touchline to consult his assistant, and they were soon joined by Kachunga, who also appeared to be trying to get a point across.
When Neild walked back on to the field to flash a red at Charles, the confusion grew.
Kachunga still appeared to be in conversation – and Neild had to come over to tell an apoplectic Evatt what was going on. Quite what the role of fourth official, Ollie Yates, was in all this is anybody’s guess.
Those inside the stadium who were able to see a replay will have spotted Kachunga’s indiscretion. Only he will know why he lashed out at Cooper – and for a player of his experience, it really should not have been happening at all.
Wanderers were all of a sudden at a disadvantage. They saw the half out defiantly, with James Trafford making one brave save at the feet of Myles Peart-Harris after Ben Stevenson’s shot had bounced off Eoin Toal.
Things got heated as the officials walked back down the tunnel, not only from the fans – who were keen to voice their disapproval – but also Evatt, who waited to give them a piece of his own mind.
For a spell it looked like Bolton’s sense of injustice may be their undoing. The game devolved into a scrappy mess and, for once, it was the Whites who were killing as much time as possible.
Ref Neild struggled to regain any control, presumably now understanding the mistake that had been made.
Wanderers sat in and defended their penalty box. Trafford made one good save to deny sub Kyle McAllister, who had got on the end of Cory O’Keefe’s cross, but otherwise watched on as a stream of crosses and scuffed shots failed to hit their intended target.
When Evatt elected to make a change, Shoretire received a standing ovation from the Main Stand as we walked back towards the dugout, to be replaced by Kieran Lee. The substitution of Kachunga was greeted by loud cheers, then boos as he ran to the touchline in exchange for MJ Williams.
Forest Green should have drawn level through sub Matthew Stevens with 10 minutes to go as he popped up unmarked at the far post but failed to get his feet sorted.
But this had turned into a collective effort to preserve three points. The crowd wasn’t the biggest seen at the University of Bolton Stadium this season, but it might just have been the most focussed.
Evatt walked out to the edge of his technical area with two minutes of normal time remaining gesticulating to the crowd around him to keep up the positive atmosphere to help see the side through.
Moments later Bradley somehow found the energy to race past a couple of defenders towards goal but sadly the Liverpool loanee could not find the finish to match his hard graft.
When six minutes of added time flashed up on the fourth official’s board there was a collective intake of breath.
When Will Aimson was called on, Bolton were five centre-halves and had no centre-forwards on the pitch, such was their desire to keep hold of the points.
But hold on they did – and the relief felt at the final whistle was palpable. It now remains to be seen what the effort has taken out of the team as they head to Charlton this weekend?