Bolton manager Neil Lennon blasted the “weak mentality” of some of his senior players as Ipswich claimed a 1-0 win over his side at Portman Road.
Jay Tabb’s 79th minute winner was the pivotal moment in a match that seemed to be heading towards a goalless draw for the promotion-chasing home side.
The midfielder’s shot into the ground found its way into the bottom corner to claim three crucial points after Bolton could only half-clear a Daryl Murphy cross.
It could have been so different had impressive Bolton debutant Rochinha or Craig Davies not wasted gilt-edged chances either side of the only goal, with the defeat instead leaving them in 16th place.
Lennon said: “We should have been home and hosed by half time, but that is endemic of our season away from home. You can’t miss gilt-edged chances like we did against a good side like Ipswich.
“We had a great chance to win it at the end (through Davies) but we are left scratching our heads.
“We put out a young side and rested a few players. In Rochinha, we had the outstanding footballer on the pitch and it was just a shame he couldn’t score in the first half as that would have been one of the goals of the season.
“The league table doesn’t lie but a club like this shouldn’t be where it is. Some of the senior players have a weak mentality but I can’t do anything about that until the end of the season when we will still be hopefully in the Championship.”
Ipswich boss Mick McCarthy made no apologies for the scrappy victory which kept his side very much in the fight for a play-off spot.
He said: “I was anxious and apprehensive watching - I’m sure most Ipswich fans were.
“There are nine games left and we still have a chance of being promoted. It is not going to be silky, free-flowing football without nerves.
“They had a lot of chances, as did we, but if you are profligate in front of goal and we score through Tabby, that’s all that matters.
“I kept the same team tonight and Bolton were no mugs. But we kept a clean sheet and we won.”
An often uninspiring game should have seen the deadlock broken far sooner.
Freddie Sears was the first culprit when the Town striker took advantage of a poor slip from Tim Ream to burst clear, but his effort was well blocked by advancing keeper Ben Amos.
Benfica loanee Rochinha should have scored before half-time after he streaked clear, played a clever one-two with Davies, but slid his shot wide of the far post.
Cole Skuse went close to breaking his duck for Ipswich but saw his 25-yard shot cannon off the post, before Tabb grabbed the crucial goal.