The Bolton ‘keeper denied Jay Tabb from close range in the second-half, then tipped over the midfielder’s header at full stretch, with David McGoldrick inches away from finding the winner late on.
Town made one change to the side that beat Leeds, virus victim Stephen Hunt replaced by Teddy Bishop. Noel Hunt returned to the squad after being unavailable for last weekend’s game and started on the bench.
Former Blue, Liam Trotter, was included among the substitutes for Bolton, who also named Eidur Gudjohnsen in their 18. The 36-year-old last played for Wanderers 14 years ago, making his final appearance in the Play-Off semi-final defeat against Town in May 2000 before joining Chelsea.
David McGoldrick, watched in the stands by former Town boss and now assistant Republic of Ireland manager Roy Keane, spun away from his marker and tested
Andy Lonergan with a right foot effort in the first five minutes.
Bishop then set up Jay Tabb with a 40 yard run, the midfielder’s shot blocked and from the follow up corner, Lonergan was in action again to tip over Daryl Murphy’s chip.
Town needed a great intervention from Christophe Berra to prevent Max Clayton opening the scoring on 15 minutes though, the Bolton frontman getting on the end of Tim Ream’s slide-rule pass but his shot from 12 yards was diverted to safety by the Scotland international.
Cole Skuse tested Lonergan from distance, then Ream declined to shoot when Lee Chung-Yong set him up, the Trotter firing high and wide when the ball came back to him for a second opening.
Clayton, who had already received treatment for a knee injury a couple of minutes earlier, was stretchered off on the half hour, Jay Spearing his replacement in the game’s first change and the former Liverpool player was immediately in the action, fizzing a shot just wide from the edge of the area.
Skuse smashed a left foot effort well wide as a fairly even first-half came to an end with the scoreboard untroubled.
McGoldrick got the second-half underway with a free-kick that cannoned around the Bolton box before being cleared, then Tabb was presented with a great chance to open the scoring when McGoldrick’s shot fell into his path but Lonergan came to his side’s rescue with an excellent save.
The home fans were on their feet on the hour when Gudjohnsen entered the fray, the injured Darren Pratley making way.
Lonergan remained the busier ‘keeper though and he was at full stretch to tip over Tabb’s diving header from a corner as Town pressed for the opener, McGoldrick then inches away from putting Blues ahead with a shot across goal.
Tyrone Mings’ cross was cleared as Town threatened again, Lonergan getting down well to save from McGoldrick as Blues dictated the play.
Kevin Bru replaced Bishop for the last 20 minutes in Town’s first change, Hunt introduced soon after for Paul Anderson.
McGoldrick lashed a left foot volley wide, Mings’ cross was cleared six yards out as Blues continued to look the more likely winners but couldn’t find that elusive breakthrough that would have taken Town to the top of the Championship.