Bolton Wanderers suffered a set-back in their hunt for automatic promotion as AFC Wimbledon held out for a 1-1 draw at the Macron Stadium.
Phil Parkinson’s Trotters edged ahead 15 minutes into proceedings when Gary Madine, who returned to the line-up, steered a header home from Filipe Morais’ corner, prior to Tom Elliott drawing Wimbledon back level six minutes before the interval.
Not long after kick-off the industrious Morais floated a cross from the right, which was powered towards goal by the head of David Wheater, only for Wombles stopper James Shea to deny him from point-blank range.
Madine provided Wanderers with the lead after a quarter of an hour, meeting Morais’ right-hand corner and diverting a strong header which arrowed beyonf Shea into the top-left corner.
Up the other end Wimbledon’s Elliott wriggled his way beyond the centre-back pairing of Wheater and Mark Beevers before drifting a daisy-cutter wide.
The Kingston upon Thames outfit were not downbeat despite falling behind and almost levelled midway through the half when play dropped to Dominic Poleon inside the six-yard box but his shot from a tight angle was turned behind well by Ben Alnwick.
After some sustained pressure on Bolton’s back line the visitors drew level, Elliot directing a close-range header beyond Alnwick after some good work from George Francomb ,who skipped past Andrew Taylor before centering a ball in from the right side of the area.
Wanderers nearly restored their advantage just two minutes after the restart, when Morais angled a free-kick from 20-yards which was tipped onto the bar by an acrobatic Shea.
Tom Thorpe curled an effort past the post from the edge of the area, while Adam Le Fondre could only hit a tame shot into Shea’s grasp as the hosts pushed for a second goal.
After weathering the initial storm of Bolton’s attacking intent Neal Ardley’s battlers were continuing to frustrate the promotion-chasers.
In the closing 20 minutes Vela should have tested Shea but drilled over from the 18-yard box while Alnwick had to keep out substitute Will Nightingale’s free header.
Morais then missed a guilt-edged chance to claim maximum points for Bolton, receiving Vela’s pass before blasting straight over the crossbar from inside the area.
Bolton Wanderers: Alnwick, Dervite, Wheater, Beevers, Taylor, Osede, Morais, Vela, Thorpe (Henry, 62) Madine, Le Fondre. Subs not used: Moxey, Solomon-Otabor, Clayton, Wabara, Howard and Wilkinson.
AFC Wimbledon: Shea, Meades (Kelly, 86) Bulman, Nightingale, Robinson, Francomb, Reeves, Elliott (Barnett, 86) Poleon (Taylor, 70) Soares, Charles. Subs not used: Parrett, Fitzpatrick, McDonnell and Robertson.
Referee: Dean Whitestone (Northamptonshire)
Attendance: 13,599 (473)