It was honours even in Lancashire on Tuesday night, with Reading pegged back at the death by Bolton in a hard-fought 1-1 draw at the University of Bolton Stadium.
Nélson Oliveira fired Reading ahead with 15 minutes left through a powerfully-taken penalty, who had looked in fine form on his Reading debut.
But Jack Hobbs struck in stoppage time for the Trotters to ensure a share of the points on the night.
The Royals started off at the University of Bolton Stadium with three debutants - as Emi Martínez, Matt Miazga and Nélson Oliveira were all in the starting line-up for a vital Championship match.
And it was the Royals who started brightly on a bitterly cold evening in Lancashire, looking eager to dominate the ball and not allow the hosts an avenue into the game.
Solid link-up play shown by Oliveira allowed Chris Gunter to make tracks on the right, firing in a cross that was kept in by Mo Barrow. The winger chipped it up to John Swift, who had a free header six yards out - but put it narrowly wide of the far post in a fantastic early chance for Reading.
Bolton carried an aerial threat going forward - particularly from set pieces. A corner was half-cleared by the Royals and allowed to be put back into the box by 17-year-old Trotters debutant, Luca Connell.
David Wheater tried to head towards goal, but Andy Yiadom got his body in the way and Martínez was able to smother the ball to stop the threat.
Reading kept trying to force initiative going forward, though, showing tidy passing combinations to play through Bolton's midfield, but Phil Parkinson's men threw players back to stop imminent threats before they could materialise.
But a long ball from Bacuna was chased gamefully by Oliveira, forcing Remi Matthews off his line and drawing a foul on the edge of the box - it looked marginally inside the area but a free-kick was the verdict. Swift delivered, Liam Moore headed at goal, Clayton Donaldson got in the way on the line and Bacuna couldn't keep the rebound on target.
Up the other end, Bolton fashioned a chance of their own when Craig Noone got clear of his marker to fizz a low ball into a dangerous area. Martínez got a crucial hand to it to parry away, with Reading managing to clear their lines.
The hosts were challenging more in midfield and started to put pressure on the Royals as half time approached, Sammy Ameobi receiving it from a neat one-two on the edge of the box, firing low but straight at Martínez.
Reading kept up their forward intent, though, and Oliveira - showing little sign of rustiness on his first senior start of the season - found Yiadom on the left with a pinpoint switched pass. The full-back drove into the area and found Aluko - shooting first-time from 12 yards, only the outstretched foot of Andrew Taylor sending it over the bar.
The winner of this crucial clash was anyone's guess, with the teams going in goalless at the interval.
Half-time | Bolton Wanderers 0-0 Reading
It was a fast start from the Royals after the interval. Oliveira intercepted in midfield, allowing Swift to spread to Yiadom on the left. He carried on his run to the edge of the box, cutting inside and shooting low and wide just after the restart.
But Bolton were up for the fight themselves, a lofted ball from Pawel Olkowski leaving Gary O'Neil a free header inside the Reading box. He couldn't divert it on target, however, and it bounced off the roof of the Royals' net.
Shortly afterwards, a Trotters corner was punched to the edge of the box by Martînez, with Connell following up and striking powerfully towards the bottom corner. Our Argentine debutant had to get across well and make a smart stop in a frantic opening to the second period.
Increasingly potent tackling was on show as the game progressed, with both teams keenly aware of what victory could mean on Tuesday night.
Aluko showed good footwork to deftly flick to Swift on the halfway line, who quickly broke and spread to Oliveira on the left of the box. The Portuguese cut inside and let fly from 20 yards - with Remi Matthews watching it all the way and saving.
Barrow was only denied by a last-ditch piece of goalkeeping as Swift played him in behind the defence, with Matthews dashing off his line to save and stop the best chance of an opener in the game with 65 minutes played.
With time ticking on, Bolton resorted to playing long, almost paying dividends as Donaldson latched onto an upfield ball and striking sweetly from 20 yards, forcing Martínez into a spectacular flying save to deny him.
But with 73 minutes on the clock, Reading had a penalty. Substitute Garath McCleary did superbly to get into the box on the other side of Olkowski, with the defender bringing him down and the referee pointing straight to the spot.
Oliveira stood confidently over the penalty, going to the goalkeeper's right. Matthews guessed the right way, but the power and placement gave the striker a deserved goal on his debut as a Royal.
For the 329 Reading fans who braved the weather to journey up to Lancashire were making their voices heard as they tried to help their team see out a key result at the University of Bolton Stadium.
Swift tried to add a second from outside the area, bending a dipping strike at goal - narrowly over the bar as the Royals tried to make sure of the win.
Bolton threw men forward in trying to salvage a point from the game, and finally managed to break Reading's resistance in added time as a lofted ball into the box was headed into the bottom corner by Jack Hobbs.
This was a cruel twist against the Royals late on, who had looked good value for victory in Lancashire on Tuesday night.
Full-time | Bolton Wanderers 1-1 Reading
Bolton Wanderers: Matthews, Taylor, Lowe, Wheater (c), O'Neil, Connell (Pritchard 72), Olkowski (Magennis 79), Hobbs, Noone (Buckley 67), Ameobi, Donaldson.
Unused subs: Williams, Little, Murphy, Grounds.
Goals: Hobbs 90+2
Yellow: Noone, Taylor
Reading: Martínez, Gunter (McCleary 61), Yiadom, Moore (c), Miazga, Bacuna, Rinomhota, Aluko, Swift (Blackett 83), Barrow, Oliveira (Loader 90).
Unused subs: Walker, Harriott, Baker, Ejaria.
Goals: Oliveira 74 (P)
Yellow: Gunter, Rinomhota, Swift
Attendance: 12,195 (329 away)
Referee: Mr S Duncan