Shell-shocked Steve Bruce saw his Championship high-flyers Hull concede three goals in the opening eight minutes at Bolton and admitted: "It was one of those freak things."

The Tigers, chasing a fourth successive victory, were undone by quickfire goals from Darren Pratley, Mark Davies and on-loan Craig Dawson. Robbie Brady reduced the arrears with a deflected 67th-minute free-kick only for Team GB Olympic defender Dawson to show his striking prowess again with a second goal which wrapped up a 4-1 home win.

"I've had better days," grimaced Bruce as Hull slipped out of the automatic promotion places. "That start is something you see at school. How can you explain it? It's one of those freak things. I have never been involved in something like that and I don't think it will happen again for a long time."

He added: "You have to erase it and say 'it happens'. Sometimes a kick up the backside doesn't do anyone any harm now and again. We have been rock solid for seven months. The one thing we needed after that was a response and I think you saw there was one.

"But you know it's not your day when you score to make it 3-1 with 20-odd minutes to go and they go down the other end and score again.

"Bolton have got some good players yet when I looked this morning they were four points above the relegation area. That shows you how difficult this league is."

Wanderers are now unbeaten in four matches since England Under-21 international Dawson arrived to partner Zat Knight in central defence. The West Brom defender threatened to score in his three previous matches and finally ended his run of near misses.

Trotters chief Dougie Freedman said: "Craig has bought into what we are trying to do and he is a good guy. He has also brought a confidence to Zat and Adam Bogdan.

"When the ball gets crossed into crucial areas one of those three are dealing with it. He has got the presence to demand certain standards of people around him and he is bringing the best out of Zat."

Wanderers are now 14th, 10 points off the top six with back-to-back games against Peterborough and Barnsley to come.