The Bantams earned a hard-fought point via a goalless draw on their first visit to the Macron Stadium in almost eighteen years. In Phil Parkinson’s first clash with City since departing the club in the summer, both he and Stuart McCall were left to settle for a point from a high-tempo and physical encounter. Sammy Ameobi came close in a closely fought first half with an effort deflected past the near post. After the break, City were slightly the better of the two teams, with substitute Jordy Hiwula looking lively, but a point apiece probably was the fairest outcome.
The game had a real cup tie atmosphere to it, with the immense travelling support behind the goal creating an incredible atmosphere.
It was Bolton that almost made the first cheer of the game, however, when Trotters skipper Jay Spearing saw a shot from 20 yards pushed away by Colin Doyle and then Sammy Ameobi crossed towards Jamie Proctor, fortunately Nathaniel Knight-Percival was on hand to divert the ball behind for a corner kick.
An impressive capture in the transfer window for the Whites, James Henry was enjoying plenty of the ball down the right hand side and his corner early on was powered over by the head of Proctor; the former Bantam forward a clear aerial threat for Parkinson’s side in the first half.
Josh Cullen was receiving some rough treatment in the first half and after suffering the effects of a fierce challenge by Spearing which saw the former Liverpool midfielder booked, the West Ham loanee fortunately got back to his feet when it looked like he could be making way for Daniel Devine for a few moments.
It was the home team who arguably had the better chances in an evenly contest first half, and Ameobi saw a clear cut opportunity blocked behind for a corner after Henry and Proctor had caused problems for City’s defence in the 18 yard box.
In the final quarter of the first period, Mark Marshall saw a shot from 20 yards held onto by Mark Howard just a few minutes after Timothee Dieng had seen an audacious 25 yard drive sail wide.
City had played themselves into some good areas in the first half but the end product was perhaps lacking at times with a couple of crosses dealt with by Howard and a few shots failing to really test the Trotters stopper.
McCall’s men were the better of the two teams in the second half though, attacking towards that imposing away end.
Billy Clarke hooked the ball over the top and Dean Moxey made a real mess of dealing with the bouncing ball. He was robbed by Marc McNulty who made his way towards goal on his first start for the club after replacing the injured James Hanson in City's starting XI.
He was forced wide by Lewis Buxton and the chance was quashed by the Bolton defenders when the opportunity was perhaps there to try his luck with his left foot.
Proctor was working hard for the hosts in his first game against City since leaving the club for Bolton in the summer and after breaking away down the left hand side and teeing up Henry, the Wolves loanee midfielder saw a shot from just outside the box go narrowly over the bar.
Hiwula was introduced as a substitute just after the hour mark and he looked bright throughout the final half hour.
After being sent chasing down the middle following a Meredith forward pass, his eventual shot was pushed away by Howard before the Bolton shot-stopper mobbed up the loose ball as Marshall looked to latch onto the loose ball.
Zach Clough has been making his way back from a spell on the sidelines in recent weeks and just minutes after his introduction from the bench, he saw a rocket of a shot go inches wide of the top corner; that was just about the closest Bolton came all afternoon to getting on the score-sheet.
After Dieng and Clarke had seen efforts held onto by Howard in the latter stages of the game, there was a moment of some debate with five minutes of the ninety remaining.
Marshall ran into the box between Buxton and Chris Taylor before going to ground; the ref blew his whistle but instead of pointing to the spot, he booked the City winger for simulation right under the noses of the 4,300 or so visiting supporters.
Bolton had a half-hearted appeal of their own shortly afterwards when Clough went down under the watchful eye of Stephen Darby but the referee rightfully wasn’t interested. Into injury time, Nicky Law saw a header from 12 yards held by Howard whilst Hiwula glanced wide a Marshall cross with the last action of there afternoon.
It was a day of ifs buts and maybes for both teams really; City had more of the play in the second period after Bolton perhaps shaded the first but it’s another hard fought away point registered by McCall’s men making it nine games unbeaten in their opening League One fixtures.