Craig Davies's 77th-minute goal for Bolton denied Billy Davies a winning return as Nottingham Forest manager.
Andy Reid's strike from the edge of the area just before the hour had given Forest the lead.
But Craig Davies found the bottom corner to level the game and earn his side a valuable point as they moved four points above the drop zone.
Marcos Alonso was sent off late on for a foul on Reid as Forest sit 11th, eight points off the top six.
Nottingham Forest manager Billy Davies
“There's a lot of work to do but the fans must be pleased with the response from the players - I'm delighted by it”
Forest had won one in eight before the fixture but started brightly and Bolton keeper Adam Bogdan was forced into a series of fine first-half stops.
The Hungarian's best save came when he repelled a Simon Cox effort which was arrowing into the top corner.
But he could do nothing on 59 minutes as a Henri Lansbury flick found Reid, who timed his first-time volley perfectly to give the hosts the advantage.
Bolton boss Dougie Freedman responded by making changes and two of his substitutes, David Ngog and Craig Davies, combined to produce the equaliser with 15 minutes remaining.
Jay Spearing won possession in the middle of midfield and unleashed Ngog, who raced into the box before cutting back for Craig Davies. The former Barnsley striker swept the ball home to grab a point for the Trotters and tarnish Billy Davies's return.
Nottingham Forest manager Billy Davies: "For a new manager to step in and get that kind of reaction is superb. The team were great, the fans were great but we just could not get the result that would have topped it off.
"Shots were raining in on their goal and I said to the players at the end if you give me that effort, application, full-backs getting forward and chances created I can't complain.
"There's a lot of work to do but the fans must be pleased with the response from the players - I'm delighted by it. Bolton are a good side, who should probably be top two, but I'm sure they would accept they got away with murder today."
Bolton manager Dougie Freedman: "We had a game plan to be cautious at the start and build momentum in the second half but the sending off was difficult to take. We had to dig in deep but I thought we did that and deserved the point we got on a day that was always going to be a hard one.
"Our goalkeeper [Adam Bogdan] did well for us. It wasn't just his saves - that's what he's there for - but his organisation and willingness to come and take responsibility was important for us.
"We knew what to expect with a new manager coming in to Forest this week. Billy knows what he is doing and although expectations are high, there are a lot of clubs capable of getting into the play-offs and Forest are one of them."
Live Text Commentary
Full Time The match has reached full-time.90:00 +5:47
David Ngog is ruled offside. Free kick taken by Chris Cohen.90:00 +4:58
Foul by Chris Cohen on David Ngog, free kick awarded. Adam Bogdan takes the direct free kick.90:00 +3:43 Booking
Booking Craig Davies is booked.90:00 +3:10
Craig Davies concedes a free kick for a foul on Greg Halford. Free kick taken by Karl Darlow.90:00 +2:35
The offside flag is raised against David Ngog. Karl Darlow restarts play with the free kick.90:00 +1:53
Free kick awarded for a foul by Greg Halford on Craig Davies. Free kick taken by Chris Eagles.90:00 +0:57
Short corner worked by Andy Reid.90:00 +0:04
The ball is swung over by Andy Reid, save by Adam Bogdan.87:25
The referee blows for offside against Lewis McGugan. Adam Bogdan restarts play with the free kick.87:07
Andy Reid takes a short corner.84:35
The ball is sent over by Chris Cohen, Darius Henderson produces a header from deep inside the six-yard box which goes wide of the right-hand upright.83:07
Indirect free kick taken by Karl Darlow.83:07 Substitution
Substitution (Nottm Forest) makes a substitution, with Darius Henderson coming on for Simon Cox.83:07
David Ngog is flagged offside by the assistant referee.79:37
Andy Reid crosses the ball from the free kick left-footed from right wing, Dexter Blackstock concedes a free kick for a foul on Adam Bogdan. Adam Bogdan takes the direct free kick.79:37 Substitution
Substitution Henri Lansbury goes off and Lewis McGugan comes on.79:37 Dismissal
Dismissal Marcos Alonso sent off.79:30
Marcos Alonso challenges Andy Reid unfairly and gives away a free kick.78:48
Shot by Henri Lansbury. Save by Adam Bogdan.
David Ngog gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Chris Cohen. Karl Darlow restarts play with the free kick.76:39
David Ngog provided the assist for the goal.76:39 Goal scored
Goal! - Craig Davies - Nott'm For 1 - 1 Bolton Craig Davies scores a goal from inside the penalty area to the bottom right corner of the goal. Nottm Forest 1-1 Bolton.75:30
Foul by Craig Dawson on Simon Cox, free kick awarded. Greg Halford takes the direct free kick.73:33
Shot by Adlene Guedioura from 12 yards. Adam Bogdan makes a comfortable save. Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Craig Davies by Gonzalo Jara Reyes. Marcos Alonso takes the free kick.73:02
Outswinging corner taken left-footed by Andy Reid, clearance made by Zat Knight.71:48
Adam Bogdan takes the direct free kick.71:48 Substitution
Substitution David Ngog is brought on as a substitute for Kevin Davies.71:48
Unfair challenge on Craig Dawson by Henri Lansbury results in a free kick.70:14
Andy Reid has an effort direct from the free kick.70:14 Booking
Booking The referee shows Marcos Alonso a yellow card.69:49
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Henri Lansbury by Craig Dawson.68:56
Foul by Darren Pratley on Dexter Blackstock, free kick awarded. Karl Darlow takes the direct free kick.68:28
Darren Pratley produces a cross, Chris Cohen gets a block in.67:06 Substitution
Substitution Billy Sharp goes off and Dexter Blackstock comes on.66:35
Drilled right-footed shot by Craig Davies. Comfortable save by Karl Darlow.64:15
Marcos Alonso takes the free kick.64:15 Substitution
Substitution Craig Davies comes on in place of Chung-Yong Lee.64:15
Simon Cox challenges Marcos Alonso unfairly and gives away a free kick.63:51
Kevin Davies takes a shot. Karl Darlow makes a brilliant save.62:28
The official flags Kevin Davies offside. Karl Darlow takes the free kick.60:45
Unfair challenge on Chung-Yong Lee by Gonzalo Jara Reyes results in a free kick. Marcos Alonso takes the free kick.60:16
Andy Reid gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Darren Pratley. Marcos Alonso takes the direct free kick.58:08
The assist for the goal came from Henri Lansbury.58:08 Goal scored
Goal! - Andy Reid - Nott'm For 1 - 0 Bolton Andy Reid finds the net with a goal from just inside the area to the bottom left corner of the goal. Nottm Forest 1-0 Bolton.57:54 Substitution
Substitution Chris Eagles replaces Steve De Ridder.57:04
Shot from 18 yards from Steve De Ridder. Save made by Karl Darlow.56:00
Craig Dawson restarts play with the free kick.56:00 Booking
Booking Greg Halford goes into the referee's book for unsporting behaviour.55:53
Kevin Davies fouled by Greg Halford, the ref awards a free kick.54:58
The ball is crossed by Chris Cohen, Craig Dawson manages to make a clearance.54:25
Corner from the left by-line taken by Radoslaw Majewski, clearance made by Kevin Davies.53:12
Corner from the right by-line taken by Jay Spearing, Karl Darlow makes a comfortable save.51:47
Simon Cox crosses the ball, clearance by Zat Knight.51:01
Effort from 20 yards by Radoslaw Majewski. Adam Bogdan makes a comfortable save.50:23
Henri Lansbury takes a shot from 12 yards. Blocked by Chung-Yong Lee. Andy Reid decides to take a short corner.50:14
Chris Cohen sends in a cross.49:42
Chris Cohen restarts play with the free kick.49:42 Booking
Booking The referee shows Mark Davies a yellow card for unsporting behaviour.49:38
Chris Cohen fouled by Mark Davies, the ref awards a free kick.47:40
Foul by Jay Spearing on Radoslaw Majewski, free kick awarded. Andy Reid produces a shot on goal direct from the free kick, save by Adam Bogdan.47:10
Steve De Ridder sends in a cross, save made by Karl Darlow.45:01
The referee gets the second half underway.45:00 +2:14 Half time
Half Time The ref blows to end the first period.45:00 +1:20
Radoslaw Majewski gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Steve De Ridder. Jay Spearing takes the free kick.44:21
Free kick awarded for a foul by Greg Halford on Chung-Yong Lee. Jay Spearing delivers the ball from the free kick right-footed from left by-line.42:20
Unfair challenge on Adlene Guedioura by Kevin Davies results in a free kick. Direct free kick taken by Gonzalo Jara Reyes.41:11
Billy Sharp fouled by Marcos Alonso, the ref awards a free kick. Free kick taken by Karl Darlow.36:58
Marcos Alonso challenges Henri Lansbury unfairly and gives away a free kick. Free kick crossed by Andy Reid, clearance made by Jay Spearing.36:33
Inswinging corner taken from the left by-line by Radoslaw Majewski.36:04
Andy Reid takes the free kick.36:04 Booking
Booking Tyrone Mears is cautioned by the ref for unsporting behaviour.35:59
Tyrone Mears gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Chris Cohen.35:18
Foul by Kevin Davies on Elliott Ward, free kick awarded. Karl Darlow takes the free kick.33:48
Shot from 12 yards from Simon Cox. Save made by Adam Bogdan.33:02
Free kick awarded for a foul by Gonzalo Jara Reyes on Chung-Yong Lee. Marcos Alonso takes the direct free kick.32:38
Effort on goal by Radoslaw Majewski from 30 yards. Save made by Adam Bogdan.32:07
A cross is delivered by Chris Cohen.31:30
Foul by Jay Spearing on Radoslaw Majewski, free kick awarded. Andy Reid takes the free kick.29:59
Unfair challenge on Kevin Davies by Adlene Guedioura results in a free kick. Jay Spearing takes the direct free kick.29:23
A cross is delivered by Gonzalo Jara Reyes.27:29
The ball is crossed by Steve De Ridder, clearance by Elliott Ward.24:21
Andy Reid delivers the ball, save by Adam Bogdan.23:49
Andy Reid takes a inswinging corner from the right by-line played to the near post.23:15
Andy Reid takes the chance to get an effort at goal. Save by Adam Bogdan. Andy Reid takes the inswinging corner, clearance made by Jay Spearing.20:38
Chung-Yong Lee is ruled offside. Free kick taken by Chris Cohen.19:38
Shot by Billy Sharp. Save by Adam Bogdan.17:17
Kevin Davies gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Adlene Guedioura. Direct free kick taken by Greg Halford.15:11
Darren Pratley is penalised for a handball. Karl Darlow takes the free kick.13:44
Unfair challenge on Gonzalo Jara Reyes by Mark Davies results in a free kick. Direct free kick taken by Gonzalo Jara Reyes.12:51
Shot from just outside the penalty box by Henri Lansbury misses to the left of the target.11:11
Simon Cox challenges Darren Pratley unfairly and gives away a free kick. Darren Pratley takes the free kick. The assistant referee flags for offside against Kevin Davies. Karl Darlow takes the indirect free kick.8:43
Jay Spearing takes a outswinging corner.8:06
Jay Spearing takes a outswinging corner from the right by-line played to the near post, Elliott Ward makes a clearance.7:58
The ball is swung over by Steve De Ridder, Chris Cohen gets a block in.3:59
The ball is swung over by Henri Lansbury, save made by Adam Bogdan. Radoslaw Majewski takes the chance to get an effort at goal. Comfortable save by Adam Bogdan.1:06
The ball is sent over by Chris Cohen.0:00
The referee gets the game started.
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