AFTER all the hype and expectation, the contest itself failed to live up to its intriguing premise.

Wanderers and Bradford, two of League One’s heavyweights, brawled it out to an unsatisfactory standstill which, as a spectacle, was much more Fury v Klitschko than Crolla v Linares.

Phil Parkinson’s showdown with his jilted ex had dominated the agenda in the build-up but as both sides repeatedly snuffed each other out, even the banter raining down from 4,300

travelling fans became diluted.

Wanderers’ problems were familiar. Though defensively organised they lacked sparkle in the final third of the pitch and mustered just one shot on target over the course of 90 minutes.

And that came 20 seconds after the opening whistle.

Bradford were no better, with Mark Howard virtually untested in the Bolton goal thanks to – yet more – staunch defending in front of him by the likes of Jay Spearing, Mark Beevers

and the outstanding David Wheater.

Parkinson livened up the post-match press conference by accusing some of his former players of play-acting – a statement denied strongly by his straight-talking successor at Valley

Parade, Stuart McCall.

Bradford’s West Ham loanee Josh Cullen definitely came in for some strong-arm treatment but in one first-half incident staged directly in front of the dugouts, his sent Parkinson

into apoplexy with an exaggerated fall under a challenge from Josh Vela, earning the Whites star a yellow card.

Mark Marshall, picked out by his former boss as a significant threat before the game, also got a yellow card for diving in the final minutes. McCall protested that his winger’s legs

had been clipped as he slipped between two Bolton defenders but, in a refreshing change of late, the referee found in Parkinson’s favour.

Gamesmanship aside, neither side deserved three points. Wanderers looked indecisive around the penalty box, their only bit of true quality coming from second-half sub Zach Clough,

who after collecting a good ball from Jamie Proctor 30 yards out sent a rasping drive an inch outside Colin Doyle’s left-hand post. Had the ball not swerved at the last second, the dirge which had gone before it would have been forgotten in an instant.

Parkinson later revealed that Vela had been suffering with a virus in the days leading up to the game and Liam Trotter, who was very much a peripheral figure, had also been unable

to train. Without much filling in from back to front for Wanderers it became rather predictable and though Proctor ran his socks off against his former club, one off-target header was as close as he got to scoring.

Sammy Ameobi, making back-to-back starts, was equally frustrating. He got involved early on after Spearing's dipping shot had been pushed away by Doyle, but lacked a little conviction thereafter and looks in desperate need of a goal to launch his Whites career.

There was little to choose between the sides as the half wore on but Bolton got the clearer sights of goal. James Henry and Ameobi were involved in one penalty box scramble and Wheater

had a header deflected wide.

Bradford were looking to play the more intricate football, Cullen very much involved, but their final ball was also missing. Marshall had their solitary chance of the first half,

sweeping a shot towards goal from the edge of the box which was comfortably gathered by Howard.

Wanderers came out with renewed purpose in the second half and earned a series of corners. Parkinson’s side look a threat from set pieces these days but frustratingly, very little

fell their way on Saturday afternoon.

Dean Moxey, back in the side for Andy Taylor, nearly got himself in trouble under a high ball and was forced to make a last-ditch tackle on Marc McNulty.

Proctor then turned superbly to present a chance for Henry on the edge of the box, his shot dipping just over the bar, before Clough’s thunderbolt woke the home crowd and hinted

at a grandstand finale. No such luck.

Wanderers wilted in the final half-hour and with Proctor looking increasingly isolated up top, home fans started to grumble that their side were not pressing hard enough for three


Both Spearing and Vela were on yellow cards, limiting the amount they could thunder round in midfield, and the football became cagey.

Clough’s introduction failed to change the game significantly but the little striker did have half a shout for a penalty as he was crowded out by two Bradford defenders in the final

few minutes.

The Bantams also cried wolf at the other end just before the final whistle – Marshall crumpling to the floor and causing many a stomach to sink around the Macron. Thankfully, referee

Mark Heywood decided against pointing to the spot, deciding it was a dive.

Wanderers have now not won a game in six, dropping to third in the table. In isolation a point against Bradford is by no means a bad result and victory against Rochdale tomorrow

night could potentially restore them to the top of the table.

Having instilled such a strong defensive shape, Parkinson’s next challenge is to bring more out of his attack. He is still lacking some key components – Gary Madine, Max Clayton

and the suspended Keshi Anderson in this case – but in order to crack a tough nut like Bradford his side will need to box more cleverly than this.