Wayne Rooney was denied redemption at Goodison Park today as battling Bolton clung on for their first clean sheet since September 11 in a 0-0 draw.
Rooney shrugged off his Boxing Day red card and produced another precocious performance to justify his manager's decision to hand him only his fifth Premiership start.
The 17-year-old stretched the Trotters' defence to the limit, bringing three brilliant saves out of the overworked Jussi Jaaskelainen and ramming the crossbar with a rising 62nd-minute strike.
Somehow Sam Allardyce's men - who had shipped at least a goal in every game since their famous win at Old Trafford - held on and almost nicked the points themselves 12 minutes from time when Jay-Jay Okocha hit a curling free-kick against the bar with Richard Wright beaten.
Bolton had the best early chance in the 10th minute when Henrik Pedersen cut into the box from the left and beat David Weir before hitting a low cross which Alan Stubbs cleared from in front of goal.
Everton then began to take control, Stubbs heading a Gary Naysmith free-kick over the bar and Rooney once again leaving Ivan Campo in his wake and beating Simon Charlton before hitting a shot from point-blank range which the advancing Jaaskelainen parried well.
Bolton retaliated through Kevin Nolan's long-range effort which did not trouble Wright before Rooney created two glorious chances in first-half injury time.
First he left Gudni Bergsson for dead before hitting a deflected shot which was bundled out of play by Anthony Barness. Then he reached Naysmith's right-wing corner with a goal-bound effort which was squeezed out of play by Nolan's fortunate deflection.
Rooney was let in by Jaaskelainen's awful throw which clattered into the back of Nolan, but the Bolton keeper redeemed himself by flapping away the teenager's rising shot before Charlton booted the rebound off the line.
Rooney again went close in the 62nd minute when he twisted past Barness in the box and slammed a shot against the bar with the keeper beaten and three minutes later he had the ball plucked from his feet by Bolton substitute Stig Tofting as he shaped up for another goal-bound effort.
After the match Everton boss David Moyes said: 'Wayne was outstanding for us today, but for his finishing.
'It was a good performance but he needed to score at the end. He had enough
opportunities albeit he created most of them himself.'
And Moyes insisted he had had no qualms about handing Rooney a starting place
for only the fifth time in the Premiership despite his early Boxing Day bath.
'It was always the sort of game in which Wayne was going to start. He doesn't
seem to find anything hard, he just gets on with things and takes it all in his
'We were dominant but I am not overly excited because we did not get thegoal.
It was definitely two points lost and it feels like a defeat.
'We might have relaxed if we'd got the early goal but it didn't come andthere
was a fair bit of anxiety out there.'
Bolton boss Sam Allardyce was understandably delighted after his side ended
their long sequence without a clean sheet.
But he admitted his side now need to rediscover the scoring form which swept
four past Newcastle if they are to stay out of the drop zone.
Allardyce said: 'We got the clean sheet and a very precious point against a
very good Everton team.
'We were very determined at the back and played as an exceptionally good unit
in which our goalkeeper was excellent.
'I feel like we've got a moral victory. I don't think anyone expected a
goalless draw after our 4-3 win and Everton's good form but that was always the
first aim today.
'We were dogged, determined and resilient and it was a great defensive
performance from us.
'Hopefully we can now keep more clean sheets and develop them into 1-0