Bolton twice equalised, either side of half-time, before Beram Kayal got the winner just before the hour.
Bolton’s Wellington Silva curled a free kick horribly wide from 20 yards on ten minutes, before Albion went ahead just a minute later.
Kayal threaded a delightful through ball for Jamie Murphy, who sped past the Bolton defence and coolly side-footed home from 15 yards to score for the second successive home game.
The visitors had an opening on 19 minutes when Emile Heskey could only head wide at the back post from eight yards as Connor Goldson did just enough to put him off.
Bolton, who had picked up seven points from their previous three league matches, were level just three minutes later. Silva delivered a low cross from the left and after Liam Feeney failed to connect, Heskey fired home via a deflection off Lewis Dunk. It was just the veteran 38-year-old former England striker’s second goal of the season.
Albion struggled to get going in the opening half-an-hour until Kayal had a swerving strike from 22 yards superby pushed behind by Bolton keeper Ben Amos. From the resulting corner, Liam Ridgewell, on his last loan appearance for Albion from Portland Timbers, saw his goalbound shot blocked.
The hosts then had a penalty appeal waved away on 37 minutes when Tomer Hemed appeared to be pulled back by Robert Holding, before they went back ahead two minutes before the break.
Kayal released Anthony Knockaert, who out-paced Jay Spearing down the right and delivered a low cross, which was exquisitely back-heeled by Bobby Zamora to Hemed and he finished from six yards for his eighth goal of the season.
Albion so nearly added a third in the closing stages of the first half but Amos superbly pushed over Murphy’s shot after excellent work by Goldson and Bruno.
Bolton drew level six minutes into the second half when Brighton failed to clear a free kick from the left and Spearing drilled the ball home through a crowded penalty area.
The visitors then should have taken the lead on 56 minutes when Bruno misjudged his clearance which left Feeney clean through on goal but David Stockdale stood tall to produce an outstanding save.
Moments later, Hemed had an effort cleared off the line at the other end, before Albion went ahead for a third time on 58 minutes. Kayal won possession off Mark Davies, played a one-two with Hemed and curled an effort just inside the far post from 20 yards.
There was then a minute’s applause for former Bolton chairman Phil Gartside, who died last week, in the 63rd minute.
Albion almost increased their lead on 73 minutes when Zamora turned on Murphy’s cross but flashed an effort just wide of the far post. That was Zamora’s last action in the game as moments after referee Rob Lewis had been replaced in the middle by fourth official Lee Swabey, Kazenga LuaLua replaced Brighton’s veteran striker.
It was LuaLua who went closest to adding a fourth for Albion but his powerful injury-time free kick was well saved by Amos, diving low to his right.
BRIGHTON: Stockdale; Bruno, Dunk, Goldson, Ridgewell (Calderon 70); Knockaert, Kayal, Stephens, Murphy; Hemed, Zamora (LuaLua 75). Subs: Ankergren, Crofts, Baldock, Calderon, LuaLua, Sidwell,Skalak.
BOLTON: Amos, Dervite, Vela, Feeney, Spearing, Osede, Davies, Heskey, Pratley, Silva (Clough 65), Holding. Subs: Rachubka, Danns, Dobbie, Twardzik, Woolery, Finney.
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