Burnley opened up a three-point gap in the race for automatic promotion to the Barclays Premier League with Sam Vokes’ 16th goal of the season heaping further misery on neighbours Bolton.
QPR’s defeat at fellow high-fliers Derby on Monday night had left the door ajar for Sean Dyche’s second-placed side to put some breathing space between them and Harry Redknapp’s team 24 hours later.
They were made to work hard for their 1-0 victory, though, as Wanderers, who had not won in the Sky Bet Championship since Boxing Day, arguably shaded a first half which saw Lee Chung-yong hit the crossbar.
However, while their hosts were profligate in front of goal, the Clarets were able to turn to their trusted strike-force of Danny Ings and Vokes, the latter stabbing in from close range just before the hour.
It took the division’s deadliest attacking partnership up to 40 goals for the season and gave them 34 in the league, the exact total of Freedman’s entire team.
In Saturday’s home encounter the official team-sheet had erroneously listed Freedman as Wanderers’ ‘acting’ manager, an ignominy he was at least spared for this clash.
But if Freedman was feeling any additional pressure, it certainly did not translate to his players in an opening 10-minute spell which they thoroughly dominated.
The visitors were almost architects of their own downfall as goalkeeper Tom Heaton shanked the ball across his goal after slipping, only to survive further embarrassment with the ball breaking kindly for team-mate Kieran Trippier.
Lee fired into Heaton’s midriff and then struck the crossbar via a Ben Mee deflection following a good move which had Freedman clapping in appreciation.
Liam Trotter was the next to go close, nodding off target, before the Clarets finally woke up, Scott Arfield firing wide when the hosts’ defence switched off.
That frantic start to a derby clash petered out somewhat prior to the interval with Trotter and Chris Eagles barely testing Heaton with their on-target efforts.
The home crowd will have been satisfied with the opening 45 minutes but Burnley are far more accustomed to playing in a higher gear.
And they stepped things up a notch inside the second half’s opening 20 seconds as David Jones skewed a shot across Adam Bogdan which the Hungarian stopper did well to push away with his left hand.
Bolton had done brilliantly to keep Vokes and Ings subdued for the opening hour but the former soon made the breakthrough.
Arfield slid an inviting cross across Bogdan’s six-yard box and Vokes, who is a Bolton resident, was on hand to tap in at the far post for the sixth time in 2014 alone.
Freedman’s response was instant, introducing Mark Davies and Andre Moritz as this season’s familiar rumblings of discontent echoed around the Reebok Stadium.
Those changes were not having the desired effect, though - indeed Moritz was withdrawn 11 minutes later due to an apparent injury - as the hosts’ energy seemed sapped following Vokes’ opener.
Dyche’s men were able to control possession and, aside from a couple of shots from former Clarets midfielder Eagles flying over the crossbar, Bolton would not threaten again.