Report: Bolton 0-0 Derby County
Wanderers and Derby County played out an opening day 0-0 draw at Macron Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
Hitting the crossbar twice through Gary Madine and once through Emile Heskey, Bolton were desperately unfortunate to not claim victory in their opening day encounter.
Despite seeing Jay Spearing dismissed late on for a second bookable offence, the Whites performed valiantly and were unlucky to not snatch all three points in a feisty encounter.
There were debuts for summer signings Gary Madine, Lawrie Wilson and Prince-Desir Gouano who took their places in the Whites’ starting XI, while the substitutes’ bench boasted academy graduate Rob Holding.
It was certainly a tempestuous start at Macron Stadium with both sides pulling no punches inside the opening stages, tackles flying in left, right and centre.
Wanderers were the first team to get a sight of goal as Liam Feeney powered downfield after collecting the ball in the middle third, only to see his effort trickle wide of the upright.
The noise inside the ground from both sets of fans was palpable, and the tempo of the game continued in a similar vein as the clash wore on.
Bolton were the side in the ascendancy with the visitors being forced on the backfoot for much of the opening quarter as the hosts piled on the pressure.
Although they were enjoying the majority of possession, Wanderers were yet to still really test Scott Carson in the Derby goal as the match.
The Rams meanwhile were dealt an early blow with Craig Bryson being replaced by Jeff Hendrick in the 20th minute, seemingly due to injury.
Having failed to trouble Ben Amos early on, Derby almost took the lead against the run of play in the 27th minute as the aforementioned Hendrick pulled the ball back into the path of an unmarked Johnny Russell who saw his effort cannon off the crossbar with a goal seemingly imminent.
Russell was again in the thick of the action moments later as he tried to beat the Bolton keeper from a tight angle, only to see Amos deny him with a one handed save.
An injury to Will Hughes on the half hour mark halted play slightly, with Derby being forced to replace him with Ryan Shotton.
Having weathered the storm, Wanderers were back on the attack shortly after with Feeney, the orchestrator of many Bolton attacks throughout the course of the first period, in the mix once again.
With four minutes of additional time indicated at the end of the half, the Trotters pushed forward in a bid to send themselves into the break ahead but to no avail as it ended goalless.
With no changes at the break for either side, the second period began in a similar vein to the first with a gung-ho approach from both teams.
On a sun-drenched Macron pitch, it was end to end stuff as the second period really started to take shape, with Zach Clough’s mazy run eventually being brought to an end at the edge of the area.
Up the other end of the field, Tom Ince’s free-kick narrowly eluded the goalmouth with a group of Derby heads unable to make contact.
Some clever build-up play in the 55th minute almost resulted in a goal as Feeney fed an advancing Madine, only for the frontman to narrowly miss making contact with Carson a beaten man.
The atmosphere was rising inside Macron Stadium, while Wanderers were throwing everything forward as they looked to finally break the deadlock.
Neil Danns was next to try his luck as he collected the ball deep into Derby territory, but the midfielder was dispossessed at the crucial moment as he attempted to put the ball into the mix.
With the clash heading into its final 20 minutes, Andreas Weimann enjoyed a glorious opportunity to put the Rams ahead but somehow sliced his effort from range wide of the mark.
Still giving their all, the manager introduced Emile Heskey into the fold in place of Clough and the frontman almost made the perfect start, only to see his close range header crash off the woodwork with Macron Stadium already on its feet.
Next to rattle the crossbar was Madine, once more with a header with Carson flailing aimlessly with 12 minutes to go.
Derby were a side under pressure, and as the game entered its final ten minutes Heskey’s mazy run from midfield almost result in a goal of the season contender, only for him to place the ball narrowly over the crossbar at the crucial moment.
It was all Bolton, with Madine seeing another header off bar to make it a hat-trick of hitting the bar for Wanderers, while Spearing received a second yellow card for an apparent dive in the area with five minutes remaining.
With four minutes indicated once more, the Whites threw everything forward despite being a man light, but their efforts proved fruitless as the game ended all square.