HAYDEN Mullins guided Colchester United to a creditable goal-less draw with promotion-chasing Bolton Wanderers, in his first game as head coach.

The U’s battled hard and deserved their point at the University of Bolton Stadium against their hosts, who have now gone 14 games unbeaten in League Two.

Colchester looked organised and disciplined throughout and looked the more threatening side in the second half, after Bolton had twice hit the woodwork in the opening period.

Mullins made three changes to the Colchester starting line-up for their first-ever game at the University of Bolton Stadium.

Miles Welch-Hayes, Tom Lapslie and Noah Chilvers came in for Junior Tchamadeu, Ben Stevenson and Jevani Brown, who were all on the bench.

Callum Harriott and Kwame Poku both missed out after being on international duty.

Colchester set up with a 4-4-1-1 formation, with Chilvers in a left-sided role and Brendan Wiredu playing just behind Frank Nouble.

New boss Mullins was joined on the Colchester bench by Paul Tisdale, who joined the club in an advisory role yesterday.

Colchester came up against a Bolton side unbeaten in 13 matches and came with a game plan, setting up with the aim to be compact and not allow their hosts to play.

Trotters centre-backs had more of the ball than any other players on the pitch in the first half but the U’s looked organised and disciplined.

Nevertheless, Bolton did have their chances in the opening period.

They almost took a sixth-minute lead when Declan John’s left-foot free-kick curled up and over the wall but clipped the top of the crossbar, with Colchester keeper Dean Gerken motionless.

And in the 20th minute, Gerken had to scoop Eoin Doyle’s close-range header away from underneath his own crossbar after Gethin Jones had escaped down the right and crossed.

Gerken then pushed away Kieran Lee’s long-range effort soon after, after Dapo Afolayan had done well to pick him out.

And just before the half hour mark, Jones’ effort was tipped onto the bar by Gerken and Doyle turned the ball home from an offside position, after Arthur Gnahoua had split the U’s defence again.

Colchester were rarely seen as an attacking force in the first half.

Their main outlet was invariably Courtney Senior, who dragged a low shot wide after being allowed to advance towards the Bolton goal just before half-time.

The first half finished goal-less but the U’s started the second half well, forcing a succession of corners and putting the Bolton defence under pressure.

It was arguably the visitors’ best spell of the game and they almost took the lead just before the hour when Chilvers’ left-foot strike flashed just wide of the near post, after Welch-Hayes had headed on Senior’s corner.

Colchester seemed to play with greater belief after the break and they felt they should have had a penalty when Wiredu tumbled under Ricardo Santos’s challenge in the area, only for referee Ollie Yates to wave away their claims.

And the U’s were left aggrieved again midway through the second half when Wiredu dispossessed Santos, who looked the last man, just in front of the Bolton area and the ball ran through to Nouble in the area but the assistant referee flagged for offside when the visitors should really have been awarded at least a free-kick.

Colchester made a double change with 14 minutes remaining, with Stevenson and Brown sent on for Nouble and Lapslie.

Gerken made a fine save to push away substitute Zack Elbouzedi’s excellent effort with five minutes remaining and Bolton pressed in the final stages.

Substitute Shaun Miller fired straight at Gerken before the end but the U’s were worthy of their point.

COLCHESTER UNITED: Gerken, Welch-Hayes, Eastman, Smith, Clampin, Lapslie (sub Stevenson, 76), Pell, Chilvers (sub Cowan-Hall, 88), Wiredu, Senior, Nouble (sub Brown, 76).

Subs (not used): Doherty, Tchamadeu, Folivi, George.

Bolton Wanderers: Gilks, Jones, Williams, Santos, Baptiste, John, Lee, Afolayan (sub Miller, 69), Gnahoua (sub Maddison, 61), Doyle, Delfouneso (sub Elbouzedi, 61).

Subs (not used): Tutte, Brockbank, Isgrove, Thomason.

Referee: Ollie Yates.

U’s man of the match: Dean Gerken.

Goals: None.

Bookings: None.