The Bolton captain Gudni Bergsson was the first to depart for hauling down Emile Heskey, who had bullied his way clear on goal. Leicester's Robert Ullathorne, who had earlier been subjected to a late tackle from Per Frandssen, followed shortly after for taking a revenge swipe at the Dane.
The dismissals seemed to disrupt Leicester more than the homeside in a first period that lacked pattern and poise. When an element of composure returned in the second half, Thompson was quick to capitalise with a swerving long-distance trademark strike which emphasised Bolton's counter-attacking threat.
That signalled a concerted period of pressure from the visitors and two incredible saves from the goalkeeper Keith Branagan - from a Matt Elliott close-range header and a skimming Stuart Willson shot - maintained the advantage. Thompson was handed the opportunity to seal victory in the dying minutes when Kasey Keller saved, but the midfielder's aim was more true minutes later after he was played through by John Sheridan.
The Leicester manager, Martin O'Neill, was dumbfounded by the goalkeeping of Branagan and the referee's decision to send his player off. "The save from Elliott was beyond belief. Uriah is a new referee and has a lot to learn. I thought we were in command for most of the game and the scoreline was flattering to Bolton," said O'Neill, who also disputed an early disallowed Heskey goal.
His counterpart Colin Todd had no complaints with Bergsson's dismissal, or his side's stomach for the fight. "It is all about winning and although we haven't moved our position, we are a lot closer. Branagan's save was equal to, if not better than Gordon Banks's. We now face another cup final against Arsenal on Tuesday," said a buoyant Todd.
Bolton are again without their first-choice striker Nathan Blake, who completes a two-match ban, and will need to link better with their strike players if the escape tunnel is to remain clear.Reuse content