There was little thoughtful play on offer at the Reebok Stadium
Bolton dropped to one place off the bottom three after failing to break down Fulham in a goalless encounter.
Mark Davies saw a shot diverted on to the crossbar, one of a number of vital saves by Fulham keeper Mark Schwarzer.
The closest the visitors came was when Nicky Shorey's free-kick was deflected on to the roof of the net.
In the final moments, Bolton's Johan Elmander shot wide when clean through, while Kevin Davies harshly had a goal ruled out for an alleged push.
The omens were there before the game, Bolton having won only two of their last 13 and Fulham none of their last 11 away games.
But the fact that Bolton had only one clean sheet in their last 24 and Fulham had lost their last four on their travels suggested goals would come.
The visitors looked rather threadbare in attack, however, with Andy Johnson out for the season and Bobby Zamora suffering from illness.
David Elm, starting his first league match of the season, might have done better with an early chance when Jonathan Greening's corner fell to him at the far post but at full stretch he could only divert over the top.
Roy Hodgson delighted to hold back Bolton
Fulham offered some guile through the midfield but it was the more forceful Bolton who had the better opportunities.
Sam Ricketts flicked a Matt Taylor free-kick straight at Schwarzer, who also blocked a Fabrice Muamba effort, the ball ricocheting to Mark Davies, who was unable to bring it under control.
Davies was involved again when the ball fell invitingly to him from a knockdown by namesake Kevin but his fierce shot struck Schwarzer's ankle, then the bar before flying away to safety.
Bolton failed to establish any momentum at the start of the second period despite the exhortations of their supporters, who understandably became exasperated by their side's lack of invention.
The Trotters continued to press, however, and Tamir Cohen threaded a neat pass through to Chung Yong Lee, only for Schwarzer to claw the ball away from the Korean midfielder.
Having lost three of their last four matches Bolton's need was greater than mid-table Fulham, and they roused themselves to dominate the final quarter of the contest.
After working the ball across the Fulham defensive line, Muamba arrived with perfect timing but did not connect properly with his volley and it went wide.
The final five minutes produced more excitement than the rest of the match put together, and Kevin Davies slipped an astute pass to find Elmander, who should have done better.
Coyle questions disallowed goal
Then in the final minute of normal time Kevin Davies, making his 500th league appearance, looked to have taken all three points when he headed Lee's corner powerfully into the top corner.
Referee Mark Clattenberg thought otherwise, to the dismay of the home contingent, decided that the veteran striker had pushed Brede Hangeland when leaping above the defender.
Bolton manager Owen Coyle:
"I think it is fair to say we certainly didn't get what we deserved from the game.
"I can't be evasive - we have scored a very good goal in the game. Everyone in the stadium knew it was a goal, bar one man.
"That is hard to take, that leaves a bad taste in the mouth. It was clearly a terrific goal. The referee has deemed Kevin has pushed the defender with two hands. I knew at the time there was no contact and I've seen the re-run - certainly not any two hands that I've seen.
"Every point is a good point in the Premier League but the galling thing is we were deserving of three."
Fulham boss Roy Hodgson:
"They had by far the better goal chances in the game but we have got a very good goalkeeper and a resilient, hard-working and determined team.
"I congratulate the referee on the strength of his decision and having watched the video I think Brede was just about to head the ball when he felt the push.
"Of course I don't think you'd expect me to say anything other than it was a good decision and I don't think I'll be expecting Owen Coyle to say anything other than, 'We was robbed'.
"But I don't think in 2010 we have had an awful lot of luck with decisions and deflections and things like that."
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