Fulham's Danny Murphy (left) and Stuart Holden, who hit the post for Bolton, contest a header
By Les Roopanarine
Fulham and Bolton cancelled each out as an even, competitive affair ended with Mark Hughes banking a valuable away point on his debut as Fulham manager.
Bolton's Stuart Holden came closest to breaking the deadlock when he hit the post with a low shot late in the game.
Fulham's best chance came when England man Bobby Zamora floated a speculative effort on to the roof of the net.
The afternoon's highlight, however, was the outstanding performance of Fulham goalkeeper David Stockdale.
Deputising for the injured Mark Schwarzer, who this week submitted a transfer request amid continued speculation about a possible move to Arsenal, the 24-year-old reserve keeper produced a remarkably assured display.
Stockdale spent most of last season on loan at Plymouth, and had previously played only one Premier League game, but proved equal to everything Bolton could muster.
His most impressive moment came when he made a flying second-half save from Johan Elmander, the Sweden international who did everything but score, and who had frequent cause to rue the Fulham keeper's athleticism.
Stockdale's heroics and a disappointing stalemate notwithstanding, the Bolton manager Owen Coyle will take plenty of encouragement from his team's performance.
Coyle satisfied after 'tough' opener
Since his arrival last January, Coyle has spoken repeatedly of a desire to alter Bolton's reputation for functional football.
The jury remains out on that one - Holden's effort aside, Bolton's most promising moment came from a goal kick which was chested down in the area by Kevin Davies, obliging the scrambling Stockdale to collect at the feet of Elmander.
Yet there was enough on show here to suggest that the desire of the club chairman, Phil Gartside, to see greater entertainment at the Reebok Stadium - and, with it, more bums on seats - might yet be fulfilled under Coyle.
That had much to do with the midfield scheming of Martin Petrov, the Bulgaria international released by Manchester City at the end of last season and promptly snapped up by Coyle.
Deployed on the left flank, Petrov twice threatened to force a first-half breakthrough, first when a probing run into the area was thwarted by John Paintsil and then when testing Stockdale from distance.
Understandably, perhaps, the 31-year-old's influence waned as the match wore on, but his vision and technique were undeniable.
An encouraging midfield display from US international Stuart Holden, making only his third appearance for Bolton, offered further hope that the absence of Jack Wilshere, so impressive while on loan at the Reebok from Arsenal last season, will not be too keenly felt.
If Coyle's task is to keep the club on the upward trajectory he has set since his appointment, his opposite number faces a more onerous assignment.
Hughes happy with Fulham start
With memories still fresh of an exhilarating run to last year's Europa League final, which came just twelve months after the highest league finish in the club's history, Hughes has inherited a club where his predecessor, Roy Hodgson, set exacting standards.
With that in mind, this was a chance to show that his Fulham side will operate more effectively away from home than was the case under Hodgson, who presided over just one away win last season (and that on the opening day).
Hughes' preparations can hardly have been helped by the uncertainty surrounding Schwarzer, or by the pre-season achilles injury that has sidelined new signing Phillippe Senderos.
Yet, while his new side could not set the tone for the season with an away victory, they have lost none of the defensive resilience so central to their success under Hodgson.
Of greater concern to Hughes will be the lack of chances they carved out.
Zamora's early floated effort aside, Jaaskelainen was rarely troubled.
Simon Davies hit a Zamora cross wide midway through the first half, while Clint Dempsey's cross-shot provided a momentary scare late on, but the visitors otherwise offered little attacking threat.
Bolton manager Owen Coyle:
"We probably did enough to win the game, but Fulham are a very good side.
"A clean sheet was positive for us, and if we can just sharpen up in the final third, that will serve us very well.
"We've made a conscious effort to make sure we have a good shape to us, but we have to do it on a weekly basis.
"Once the new players integrate, I believe we'll get stronger. We've got to have that intensity on a game-by-game basis."
Fulham manager Mark Hughes:
"I thought it was a well-contested game and we stood up to the challenge very well.
"When you play Bolton you have to compete and stand up to the challenge, and I thought we did that.
"The confidence exuded by David Stockdale, who came in for Mark Schwarzer and did very well, filtered right through the team.
"Mark obviously sees an opportunity, and has expressed a wish to take it if he can, but he understands our situation.
"We're not going to jeopardise our position in the Premier League; we're in possession of an exceptional goalkeeper, and we want that situation to remain."
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