OXFORD United held the league leaders to a goalless draw in Des Buckingham’s first home game in charge.

Opportunities were at a premium in the first half between the U’s and Bolton Wanderers, but the second period saw the match open up, although not enough to make the breakthrough.

Buckingham made two changes to the team which lost 2-0 at Cheltenham Town, as Elliott Moore and Kyle Edwards replaced Stephan Negru and the suspended Ruben Rodrigues respectively.

The visitors meanwhile named an unchanged side from the one which won 7-0 at home to Exeter City in their previous game.

Both sides took their time to grow into the game, with the only things of note in the opening exchanges being Billy Bodin glancing a Mark Harris cross off target and Bodin seeing a shot charged down following a short free kick routine.

At the other end, Gethin Jones got in behind down the right-hand side, but Moore was able to scrap the cross clear from danger.

The final few minutes of the first 45 then burst into life.

Harris won a flick-on in the direction of Bodin, who slipped the ball through for Stan Mills.

The Everton loanee got in one-on-one with Nathan Baxter, but the Trotters goalkeeper made himself big and thwarted Mills’ effort.

From the resulting corner, Cameron Brannagan played the ball short to Edwards, who cut in and smacked the crossbar with a thunderous effort from a tight angle on the left-hand side.

Two minutes into stoppage time, United again went close.

Brannagan fancied his chances from a free kick 35 yards out and well right of centre.

However, the U’s midfielder managed to aim the ball towards Baxter’s top left corner, but the former Chelsea youth stopper was equal to it and managed to claw the ball from his goal line.

Buckingham made a change at the break, as Tyler Goodrham replaced Edwards, and United came out quick in the second period.

Brannagan sprayed a delightful crossfield ball to Mills, who struggled to get it out of his feet and ended up sending a tame effort towards the near post, but Baxter made a comfortable save.

Then, Ciaron Brown got up at the back post to nod the ball into the path of Bodin, who scuffed a shot down Baxter’s throat.

Trotters danger man Dion Charles got his first sniff of goal 10 minutes into the second half, when his right-footed shot from just inside the penalty area was charged down, with the ball sailing over James Beadle’s crossbar.

Charles was again denied minutes later after chasing a ball over the top, before then clipping the ball over Fin Stevens.

However, Beadle raced out of his goal quickly and spread himself expertly to thwart the striker.

Jordan Thorniley then made two huge blocks to charge down a couple of Victor Adeboyejo strikes in quick succession.

The U’s defence was then caught napping when Charles chased a loose ball down the left and laid it off to Paris Maghoma, whose effort bounced off the heel of Brannagan and out for a corner.

The Trotters continued to search for the opener though with their latest sight of goal coming when Jack Iredale made an overlapping run and smashed a shot towards the near post, but Beadle was able to fist it away.

Buckingham made his second alteration shortly after the midway point of the second half, as Josh Murphy replaced Bodin.

Iredale continued to be a useful outlet at left wing back though, with his driven cross finding Josh Dacres-Cogley at the back post, however he fired over.

Another dangerous Iredale cross was met by substitute Jon Bodvarsson, but he could only play the ball across goal and into the gloves of Beadle.

Josh Sheehan then worked himself shooting space on the edge of the box, with the resulting strike causing some momentary pinball in the United penalty area.

United changed shape late on following the introduction of Negru and Gatlin O’Donkor, but the opening goal failed to materialise for either side.

Oxford United (4-2-3-1): Beadle; Stevens, Moore, Thorniley, Brown; McGuane, Brannagan; Mills (Negru 77), Bodin (Murphy 67), Edwards (Goodrham 46); Harris (O’Donkor 77).

Unused subs: Eastwood, Gorrin, McEachran.

Booked: Mills, Bodin.

Bolton Wanderers (3-1-4-2): Baxter; Jones, Santos, Toal; Sheehan; Dacres-Cogley, Thomason, Maghoma (Dempsey 77), Iredale; Adeboyejo (Bodvarsson 67), Charles (Nlundulu 83).

Unused subs: Coleman, Mendes Gomes, Forrester, Morley.

Booked: Thomason, Baxter.

Referee: Sam Purkiss (London).

Attendance: 8,899 (1,157 visitors).