Baggies find the right Gera
Zoltan Gera inspired West Brom to their first Barclays Premiership win and eased the pressure on under-fire boss Gary Megson.
The Hungarian's 65th minute header capped a superb individual performance
at The Hawthorns and sealed a nervy success against high-flying Bolton. Gera had provided the cross from which Kanu swept Albion ahead nine minutes earlier.
finale, Albion held firm to give a much-needed boost to Megson.
Responding to rumours that this could be his last match in charge of Albion, Megson had taken the bold step of dropping record #3million signing Robert Earnshaw to the bench in place of the in-form Geoff Horsfield.
And he replaced midfield playmaker Jason Koumas with the relatively unproven Gera - leaving himself open to criticism were his tactics to fail.
But he was boosted by a poor show from Sam Allardyce's Bolton who looked anything but a side who started the day in fourth place.
Recalled 37-year-old Les Ferdinand had had the first shot in the Albion box which was blocked by returning defender Darren Moore.
From then on the first half belonged to Albion and in particular to Gera, who was at the centre of most of his side's attacking moves.
In the eighth minute he hit a low shot which flashed just wide of Jussi Jaaskelainen's right-hand post.
Horsfield raced onto Kanu's through ball to shoot straight at the Bolton `keeper one minute later, then Gera had a powerful drive deflected over the bar.
The home side came even closer in the 11th minute when Moore's powerful header from a Jonathan Greening corner was booted off the line by Gary Speed.
Albion were taking charge of a surprisingly open game with Gera's exciting, shoot-on-sight approach leading to another long-range effort blazing high and wide in the 18th minute.
Speed's foul on Gera led to a dangerous free-kick on the edge of the Bolton box but Greening's quick, lofted effort fell into the arms of Jaaskelainen.
But as time ticked by and more Albion chances went begging the wisdom of dropping Earnshaw was being questioned.
Greening wasted a superb chance in the 21st minute when he caught Moore's flick-on on his chest before volleying over the bar from an unmarked position in the box.
Bolton had produced nothing of note until the 25th minute when a lapse in Albion's defence came close to giving the visitors the lead.
Ricardo Gardner cut inside Gera and Bernt Haas from the left flank and when his initial shot was spilled by `keeper Russell Hoult, Kevin Nolan poked the rebound against the post from point-blank range.
Gera came close yet again on the stroke of half-time when he cut in from the right and unleashed a low left-foot effort which blazed inches wide of Jaaskelainen's left-hand post.
Albion's first chance of the second half also fell to Gera after Greening's accurate cross from the left flank. But the Hungarian's header clattered against defender Bruno N'Gotty and deflected away from danger.
Albion finally snatched a richly deserved lead via the opposite flank in the 56th minute when Gera's cross
found Kanu in front of goal and was swept home with consummate ease by the Nigerian.
And Gera's contribution was even more impressive by the 65th minute when he rose highest to head home Greening's corner and celebrated in acrobatic fashion in front of the Albion fans.
Bolton had little more to lose at that point and threw themselves forward though they were fortunate to reduce the deficit in the 73rd minute.
Giannakopoulos' free-kick from way out on the left was flapped at by Hoult and eluded everybody on its way into the Albion net. Radhi Jaidi and Gardner both had late chances to grab a point for Bolton - but Albion clung on to grab a potentially priceless victory for their boss.