Bolton Wanderers and their Lancashire neighbours Accrington Stanley ground out a scoreless draw at the University of Bolton Stadium.
The hosts created several good opportunities, especially in the first half, to try and break the deadlock but were unable to find a way past Josef Bursik who was in excellent form for the visitors.
Keith Hill made three changes from the side that narrowly lost to Blackpool in midweek. Brandon Fleming, Joe Dodoo and Daryl Murphy came into the starting XI at the expense of Joe Bunney, Ethan Hamilton and Chris O’Grady.
Wanderers got off to a bright, attacking start and Dennis Politic was unlucky to see his effort go over the bar after charging into the box almost straight from kick off.
Luke Murphy then saw an attempt from distance get blocked by a defender as the home side tried to seize the initiative early on.
Politic’s cross into the box ran through to Joe Dodoo who controlled the ball on his chest before witnessing his volley get blocked behind for a corner.
Bursik in the Stanley goal made a crucial close range save to deny Daryl Murphy’s bullet header off Ali Crawford’s corner.
A rare foray into the Wanderers box for Stanley culminated in Bobby Grant losing control of the ball after he had burst into the box. Remi Matthews was on hand to regain possession for the hosts.
Another chance fell Wanderers’ way when Dodoo dribbled his way into the box before cutting the ball back to Crawford, whose shot was pushed behind by Bursik.
From the resulting corner, taken by Crawford, Toto Nsiala rose the highest but was unable to direct his header on target.
It was all Wanderers and Dodoo was at it again after being picked out by Crawford, with the winger’s low drive from 15 yards out go just wide of the post.
A few moments later and Dodoo created some space for a long range effort but his deflected effort is held onto by Bursik.
Jason Lowe hit a powerful volley from the edge of the box which flew wide after Dodoo breezed past Callum Johnson to launch a cross to the Wanderers captain.
As the half came towards a close, Stanley had a couple of half-chances that never really troubled the Wanderers.
Sam Finley’s cross from the right hand side took an unfortunate deflection off Jack Hobbs but the ball went over his own bar.
Almost immediately, Nsiala put in a superb block to keep out Jordan Clark’s shot.
Bursik produced a tremendous save after Dodoo got on the end of a well-worked move but could only see his curling effort from a tight angle kept out by the Stanley keeper.
Hill made his first change of the afternoon when Yoan Zouma came on for Hobbs before the second-half got underway.
Politic went wide with another effort after latching on to Luke Murphy’s ball into the channel.
Zouma conceded a corner after Finley’s deflected cross towards the near post threatened to pose some momentary danger.
Crawford was unable to captialise on an error by Harvey Rodgers when his first time shot went narrowly wide of goal.
Stanley then had their best chance of the game when Clark’s rocket of a shot looked destined to fly into the top corner only for Matthew to pull off a stunning save to thwart him.
The visitors starting to cause more problems for Wanderers and Joe Pritchard’s corner in the box saw Colby Bishop’s header held on to by Matthews.
Kean Bryan then rose to plant a header onto Politic’s corner but the defender is unable to steer his effort on goal.
The visitors won a free kick in a dangerous spot when Bryan upended Dion Charles, a challenge for which he was cautioned. Joe Maguire took the resulting free-kick which turned out to be a routing claim for Matthews.
They earned another attempt at goal from a set-piece but Jerome Opoku couldn’t keep his effort on target and Wanderers earned a reprieve.
Crawford received a pass from Luke Murphy and moved into space before seeing his shot from distance go comfortably over the bar.
As the game moved into time added on, Dodoo once again saw a shot deflect wide for a corner.
At the death Politic’s header from Lowe’s first time cross went over the bar to perfectly sum up a frustrating afternoon for the Wanderers.
The final chance of the game fell to Stanley, with a long range effort brilliantly tipped around the post by Matthews.
It was hard working performance from Keith Hill’s men who were desperately unlucky not to find a winner their performance merited.