A hat-trick from Bolton’s Joe Mason put Rotherham to the sword tonight, but the Millers fought valiantly to the bitter end.
Despite periods of intense pressure in their half, Millers looked like they were going to get at least a point in the Roses clash, having led for half an hour.
But the Devon-born striker, 23, was the true difference between the sides.
United manager Steve Evans had been true to his word as new striker Luciano Becchio was picked to start.
He had promised Becchio would be given game-time as the club bid to fast-track him to full fitness and he was selected alongside Matt Derbyshire in attack.
Becchio made his debut at AFC Bournemouth on Saturday, playing for 50 minutes.
Ben Pringle dropped to the bench, with Anthony Wordsworth chosen on the left side of midfield.
Bolton, third from bottom in the Championship and without a league win, had former Doncaster Rovers ace Matt Mills at centre-half.
The first chance of the evening fell to Bolton’s Darren Pratley, but he wasted his header.
Mills then had a goal-bound half-volley blocked by the Millers’ defence.
Similarly, Mason’s effort was deflected to safety as the Lancashire side tried to cash in on early dominance.
On 20 minutes, Craig Davies sent a right footer from outside the box high and wide.
Neil Danns also placed an opportunity into the stand - as Bolton continued to keep a tight choke-hold on the game.
However, Wordsworth was looking lively at the other end of the park.
And he put the visitors ahead with a low left-foot free-kick into the bottom corner on 33 minutes.
It was a satisfying moment - but Bolton almost wiped that out straight away; Davies firing across goal.
Danns missed froma dangerous position at the Macron Stadium, too.
United’s goalie Adam Collin made a key save with his legs from Davies at the start of the second half. And the goalie foiled Tim Ream shortly afterwards.
Millers are a resourceful side and could have got a second when Paul Taylor struck the woodwork from fully 30 yards.
But they conceded on the hour, Mason levelling with a right footed shot from outside the box.
And worst was to come on 80 minutes.
Mason collected his second by heading home Spearing’s corner.
Yet there were more twists to come.
Two minutes later, substitute Jordan Bowery equalised.
That parity was lost almost straight away when Cardiff City loanee Mason half-volleyed home from close range.
Sadly, United had a goal disallowed for offside at the death - but they can be proud of a courageous effort tonight.
Bolton Wanderers: Lonergan, Ream, Mills, Dervite, Moxey; Pratley, Spearing, Mark Davies, Danns; Craig Davies, Mason. Subs: Fitzsimons, Feeney, Beckford, Garvan, Hughes, Chung-Yong, Kamara.
Rotherham United: Collin; Richardson, Morgan, Arnason, Skarz; Taylor, Green, Smallwood, Wordsworth; Becchio, Derbyshire. Subs: Loach, Broadfoot, Frecklington, Revell, Bowery, Pringle, Clarke-Harris.
Referee: Neil Swarbrick (Lancashire.)