A Liam Feeney brace and further strike from Matt Mills saw Bolton Wanderers claim a comfortable 3-0 victory over Cardiff City at Macron Stadium.
The winger coolly slotted home Lee Chung-Yong’s low cross to fire the Whites into an early lead, before volleying home from an acute angle after finding space at the far post shortly after the half-hour mark.
Stand-in skipper Mills scored the third near the end after being picked out in the area by substitute Max Clayton, as Neil Lennon’s side ensured their 100% home record under their new manager continued.
Josh Vela made his first Wanderers start since August 2013 as Neil Lennon made three changes to the side that lost against Norwich City on Friday.
There were also places in the starting line-up for Craig Davies and Liam Feeney as Jermaine Beckford, Jay Spearing and Oscar Threlkeld all dropped to the bench.
Craig Davies almost marked his return to the Wanderers’ starting line-up with an early goal after powering into the Cardiff area. However, the forward was unable to keep his shot down when under-pressure and off-balance.
However, it was a fellow change to the XI who managed to open the scoring for the Whites as Liam Feeney netted his first ever goal for Bolton.
Finding space in the penalty area, the winger was in the right place at the right time to coolly slot Lee Chung-Yong’s low cross past David Marshall with a first-time side-footed effort.
Buoyed by their positive start, the Trotters continued to press and could have doubled their lead moments later when Neil Danns stung Marshall’s gloves from close-range. However, with no Wanderers player to be close enough to convert the rebound Cardiff were able to clear their lines.
Cardiff fought back and came close to an equaliser on the 15-minute mark as Peter Whittingham lined up a strike from distance. Andy Lonergan was left stranded as the midfielder’s shot took a wicked deflection, only to curl narrowly wide of the far post.
Josh Vela almost marked to his return to the side with an assist as his deep corner found Matt Mills at the far post, only for the stand-in skipper’s header to be cleared off the line by Craig Noone.
At the other end only a great save from Lonergan denied Cardiff an equaliser, the Whites keeper standing tall to block Federico Macheda’s close-range toe-poke, before Mills was on hand to clear his lines.
Cardiff continued to look at their most dangerous when whipping crosses into the box, and that threat continued as a quickly-taken corner found Sean Morrison at the far post, however the defender was unable to keeper his header down.
And Bolton made the Bluebirds rue their miss almost immediately as Feeney doubled his side’s lead.
Following an extended period of Trotters possession, Darren Pratley’s cross found Feeney at the far post where the winger was on hand to volley past Marshall from an acute angle for his second of the night.
Adam le Fondre had a chance to halve the deficit for Cardiff on the stroke of half-time as Whittingham’s cross deflected kindly to him in the area, however the forward could only fire tamely straight at Lonergan, as Wanderers went in at the break two goals to the good.
Cardiff introduced Ravel Morrison to the action at half-time as they looked to find way back into the game.
However, it was another former Manchester United starlet who almost got his name on the scoresheet for Bluebirds as Macheda rifled a shot straight at Lonergan in what was the first meaningful attack of the second half.
Neil Lennon responded by making a substitution of his own as Jay Spearing came on in place of Mark Davies.
His introduction did prevent the majority of the early play being played out in the Bolton half however, as John Brayford had the next shot on goal for Cardiff, dragging his effort wide of the far post from distance.
Awakened by Cardiff’s near-misses, the Trotters suddenly started to press with Feeney in particular, now playing upfront alongside Craig Davies, searching for his hat-trick.
He missed a good chance to claim the match-ball shortly before the hour-mark, failing to connect with the ball despite having the goal at his mercy after being picked out by Pratley inside the area.
Feeney missed another good chance ten minutes later when left free at the far post, failing to hit the target after being picked out by Craig Davies.
That was to be the winger’s involvement of the night as he left the field soon after to a standing ovation as Max Clayton came on in his place.
And the forward made an instant impact, setting up Wanderers’ third goal of the night for Mills, following a quickly-taken corner.
After receiving the ball in the area from Lee Chung-Yong, Clayton turned his marker well before pulling the ball back to Mills, whose scuffed effort caught Marshall off-guard as it curled away from the Cardiff keeper into the far corner.
Jermaine Beckford was brought on late on in place of Craig Davies as the Whites looked to extend their lead, and could have made an instant impact as Lee Chung-Yong’s low cross almost fell kindly to him at the far post.
Spearing almost set Beckford up again moments later after jinking through midfield before playing the ball into the area, only for Sean Morrison to steal if off Beckford’s toes at the crucial second.
At the other end Lonergan had to be alert to dive full-stretch to keep out substitute Nicky Maynard’s backward header, before denying the same man again moments later after he tried his luck from range.
But they were to be rare heart-in-mouth moments for Neil Lennon’s side as they saw out the game to secure a comfortable win.