Bolton Wanderers and Derby County shared the spoils in a goaless draw in one of the day's early kick-offs as the new Championship season spluttered into life at the Macron Stadium.
Bolton hit the bar three times and had a man sent off in 12 minutes towards the end of a game which came to life in the last 20 minutes.
Both teams hit the woodwork, but it was Bolton who will feel hardest done by after Emile Heskey and Gary Madine both hit the bar following excellent wide play with Derby's back line shaking.
Bolton enjoyed the better of the early exchanges, with the Derby back line guilty of overplaying at the back, something they were often guilty of during the last campaign. They failed to test debutant Scott Carson during that spell though, or throughout the first half.
It was in fact Derby who had the first real chance of the game, when after good play by George Thorne, Jeff Hendrick broke down the right. The ball was cut back to find Johnny Russell, but the Scotsman could only hit the top of bar and post from his rising shot. Russell has been on goalscoring form in pre-season and will be disappointed not to open his account.
Will Hughes injured
The main talking point of the first half came on 30 minutes when Will Hughes was tackled with Derby breaking. Hughes fell clutching the inside of his knee and looked in serious discomfort, with players calling for the stretcher immediately. He left the field to applause from both sets of supporters, on a strecther, clutching oxygen. Derby fans will hoping, after losing midfield partner Craig Bryson earlier in the half also, that the injury is not as serious as feared.
Bolton applied further pressure after the injury to Hughes, with Darren Pratley failing to get the ball under control in the box and then Wilson firing over from long range, with neither team threatening further in the first half.
The second half started in much the same fashion as the first ended. Both teams carved out opportunities to threaten but neither keeper was tested and large parts of the game were being contested in midfield.
After Chris Baird - named Derby captain for the season yesterday - got into the box and crossed, Russell appealed for a penalty, but Chris Martin carried on and smashed over when he should have done better.
Derby continued to create half chances and new signing Andreas Weimann, coming on for Russell, spurned an opportunity from eight yards out, again failing to test Ben Amos.
Rams rescued by woodwork
Bolton came back at Derby after 75 minutes and after coming on as a sub, veteran striker Heskey thundered a header against the bar with Wilson only managing to turn the rebound into the side netting. Three minutes later the woodwork saved Derby again, Madine meeting the cross in fromt of the flat-footed Ryan Shotton and seeing his goalbound header hit the bar once more.
The Macron Stadium raised its volume levels after the arrival of Heskey, and the ex-England man was at it again as he squared to Liam Feeney, but his effort was denied, following an excellent run by Heskey. Derby looked tired and Bolton piled forward. Madine's header again hit the bar and with the rebound being cleared off the line by a Derby defender, it looked like the goal was inevitable.
Bolton had the bit between their teeth and as Jay Spearing, earlier booked for challenge on Martin, went down in the box in the 85th minute, the crowd held its breath. Referee Madley booked the Bolton man for simuation however, much to the dismay of the combative midfielder.
The dismissal deflated the Trotters' momentum and having survived, Derby with the last attack of ijury time had a chance to nick it. Derby broke and Martin cleverley found Tom Ince one-on-one with Amos. The club's record signing dallied and Hendrick's follow up was blocked with both clubs settling for a point.