Derby extended their league unbeaten run to nine games after a goalless draw with fellow promotion hopefuls Bolton.
A win for either side would have lifted them to fourth but both struggled to create clear chances in front of Bolton’s biggest crowd in over 10 years.
The Rams went closest in an even first half when Bolton defender Eoin Toal sliced a clearing attempt from Louie Sibley’s cross onto his own bar, with goalkeeper James Trafford beaten.
Elias Kachunga came close to winning in the death for the hosts but fired his freestyle bicycle kick straight at Derby keeper Joe Wildsmith.
Playing in front of 25,428 supporters – their biggest home crowd since relegation from the Premier League in the 2011-12 season – Bolton frequently caused problems with neat build-up play around the Derby box.
Yet the hosts struggled to break down a resolute Rams defense which has conceded just once in five league games, with Oladapo Afolayan’s deflected strike in the first half one of only two framed attempts.
The Rams were missing top scorer David McGoldrick through illness and also struggled to turn good positions into clean chances, with Jason Knight seeing a goal-bound effort blocked before the break.
A fine move from Bolton after the break, involving Will Aimson, Kieran Lee and Liverpool on loan Conor Bradley, created a big chance for Dion Charles from 10 yards out, but he guided a low shot past the left post.
At the other end, James Collins took the lead when he was well placed, and Knight did the same in the 90th minute, but neither goalkeeper had a save to make in the second half until that Kachunga almost snatches the victory with the final kick of the game.
Bolton, who have won two of their last seven matches, remain in fifth place, 12 points off the automatic promotion places, while a fourth league draw in five moves Derby up to sixth, a point clearer .
Bolton manager Ian Evatt told BBC Radio Manchester:
“These games – I talked about moments of the week – they are always tight and we have to learn how to make the most of those moments.
“We probably had the best chance of the game with Dion, [who] should probably score in a very good spell after half-time.
“I thought when we showed composure we played pretty well, but we didn’t show it enough. Maybe it was the merit of the opposition, maybe with the crowd and the magnitude of the match, we were a bit nervous.
“We gave a good image of ourselves. I think we can do better, but if you can’t win, don’t lose, especially in these big games with six-point momentum.”
Derby County boss Paul Warne told BBC Radio Derby:
“It’s absolutely heartbreaking, the pitch wasn’t exactly conducive for either team to play, and I honestly thought today was one of those days when a goal would come from a mistake, more than a good game.
“They had some good long throws towards the end where I thought it might suit them, and we had some really good chances from set pieces that I’m disappointed we didn’t score on.
“I’m biased, but I thought we were the better team in a pretty tight game.”
- 15AimsonBooked at 89 mins
- 21BradleyBooked at 61 mins
- 16MorleyReplaced byBakayokoto 79′minutes
- 8SheehanReplaced byDempseyto 68′minutes
- 20LeeReplaced bywilliamsto 67′minutes
- tenCharlesReplaced byKachungato 79′minutes
- 17AfolayanReplaced byBodvarssonto 85′minutes
- 3ForsythBooked at 26 mins
- 11Mendez-LaingReplaced byOsulato 86′minutes
- 7BarkhuizenReplaced bydobbinto 63′minutes
- Samuel Barrot
Match ends, Bolton Wanderers 0, Derby County 0.
Second Half ends, Bolton Wanderers 0, Derby County 0.
Attempt saved. Elias Kachunga (Bolton Wanderers) right footed shot from the center of the box is blocked in the center of the goal. Assisted by Kyle Dempsey with a cross.
Failed attempt. Jason Knight (Derby County) header from the center of the box is too high. Assisted by Conor Hourihane with a cross from a corner.
Corner, Derby County. Corner conceded by Kyle Dempsey.
Will Aimson (Bolton Wanderers) is shown the yellow card for bad foul play.
Foul by Will Aimson (Bolton Wanderers).
James Collins (Derby County) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Foul by Conor Bradley (Bolton Wanderers).
Craig Forsyth (Derby County) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Replacement, County of Derby. William Osula replaces Nathaniel Mendez-Laing.
James Trafford (Bolton Wanderers) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Eiran Cashin (Derby County).
Foul by Elias Kachunga (Bolton Wanderers).
Max Bird (Derby County) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Replacement, Bolton Wanderers. Jón Bödvarsson replaces Oladapo Afolayan.
Failed attempt. Eoin Toal (Bolton Wanderers) right footed shot from outside the box is high and wide to the right.
Offside, Derby County. Louie Sibley tries a through ball, but James Collins is caught offside.
Replacement, Bolton Wanderers. Amadou Bakayoko replaces Aaron Morley.
Replacement, Bolton Wanderers. Elias Kachunga replaces Dion Charles.