Stephen Warnock’s 17th-minute goal was enough to end a run of three defeats in all competitions but goalkeeper Marco Silvestri needed to find some top-class saves to make the points safe.
The sacking of head coach Hockaday after just six competitive games in charge left Academy boss Neil Redfearn picking the team against Dougie Freedman’s visitors, who have now gleaned just one point from their opening five matches.
Former West Brom boss Steve Clarke is among the front-runners for the Elland Road job as president Massimo Cellino looks to appoint another home-based coach, with Redfearn in temporary charge.
Leeds gave a debut to Danish midfielder Casper Sloth whose first two passes failed to find their man and he took time to settle into his new environment.
Bolton suffered a blow as early as the seventh minute when injured central defender David Wheater was replaced by France Under-21 international Dorian Dervite. Yet Wanderers were a coat of paint away from taking a 12th-minute lead when Joe Mason lost marker Jason Pearce through the middle and saw his powerful shot tipped against the bar by Silvestri.
Five minutes later Leeds were ahead, though whether the ‘shot’ was intentional is open to doubt.
Warnock, from just inside the left corner of the penalty box, drove the ball low into the goalmouth and it skipped by everyone on its way into the net. It was Warnock’s first goal since February and the third of his Leeds career.
Mason squandered his second clear chance five minutes before the interval by firing straight at Silvestri from 15 yards, and after Billy Sharp’s angled shot cleared Bolton’s bar by inches, Silvestri denied Mason for a third time.
Leeds lost Warnock 10 minutes into the second half when he hobbled to the dressing room, to be replaced by Charlie Taylor who spent last season on loan at Fleetwood.
Youngsters Alex Mowatt and Lewis Cook showed some mature touches in midfield for Leeds who wanted the cushion of a second goal, but Silvestri had to pull off a full-length diving save to keep out Lee Chung-yong’s 30-yard drive as Bolton continued to threaten.
Sloth made way for Zan Benedicic, and former Leeds striker Jermaine Beckford was released from the Bolton’s bench in place of Craig Davies with 12 minutes left.
Five minutes of time was added, Silvestri making a vital double save from Beckford’s close-in header and Lee’s follow-up as Leeds hung on for their second Championship win of the season.