Bolton Wanderers will play League One football next season after a 4-1 defeat at the hands of Derby County at the iPro Stadium confirmed their relegation from the Sky Bet Championship.
The Rams opened the scoring inside 12 minutes through Johnny Russell who unleashed an unstoppable effort from all of 25 yards into the bottom corner of the Bolton net with Tom Ince doubling their advantage seven minutes before the break through a close range finish.
It was three for the hosts halfway through the second period as Jacob Butterfield fired home from distance, although the Whites did pull one back from the penalty spot shortly after through Zach Clough after Mark Davies was fouled in the area.
County’s three-goal advantage was restored with 14 minutes to play though, with Russell notching his second of the game from close range - a scoreline which remained the same at the final whistle.
There were three changes for Wanderers from the side who started against Brentford in midweek with Rob Holding, Neil Danns and David Wheater all back in for the Whites.
Wanderers found themselves under pressure from the hosts inside the opening minutes of the clash with Tom Ince finding himself in a glorious position in the fourth minute with only Ben Amos to beat, but the keeper manage to make himself big enough to keep his effort out at the near post.
The travelling Bolton faithful were also in good voice from the off and their backing was soon met with the Whites’ first attack of the afternoon which saw a Wheater glancing header hooked away after a superb cross into the box from Zach Clough.
The Rams were back on the attack soon after however, but Cyrus Christie’s run and Marcus Olsson’s subsequent effort failed to trouble the Bolton defence or goalkeeper while Chris Martin’s shot from the edge of the area with 12 minutes on the clock narrowly cleared the crossbar.
Just a minute later however, Derby opened the scoring in style as Russell unleashed from all of 25 yards with his shot nestling into the bottom corner of the net to the delight of the iPro faithful.
It was almost two shortly after as Christie powered down the right flank and into the box, but the full-back’s eventual shot flew just wide of Amos’ far post while Craig Bryson also came close for the home side.
With eight minutes to go until the break though, Derby doubled their advantage through Ince who slid the ball home at the far post after connecting with a lofted cross into the box from fellow goalscorer Russell.
It was nearly a third for County on the stroke of half time as Russell connected with a Christie cross just inside the box, but Amos was equal to his header to keep the deficit at two while Ince also came within a whisker of doubling his own tally for the afternoon as the first half drew to its conclusion.
As the second half got underway, Wanderers made one change – Emile Heskey on for Liam Trotter – and began with more vigour, with the aforementioned frontman causing problems from the off.
It was the hosts who enjoyed the first real sight of goal though with Russell’s curled effort skimming off the crossbar eight minutes into the second period while a Bryson snap-shot narrowly cleared the goalmouth soon after.
Ince, a threat throughout for the Rams, appeared to have his second of the game on the hour mark, only to see his strike from the edge of the box deflect away for a corner with Amos seemingly beaten.
With 22 minutes remaining however, Derby had their third and it was through former Bolton loanee Butterfield whose 25 yard shot took a slight deflection on its way past Amos in the Bolton goal.
Just three minutes later, Bolton were handed the opportunity to reduce the deficit from the penalty spot after substitute Mark Davies was fouled in the box, with Clough stepping up to slot home his second from 12 yards in as many games.
Russell, a thorn in Bolton’s side through the duration of the game, proceeded to restore Derby’s three-goal advantage five minutes later though, finding himself in space just outside the six yard box and rounding Amos before tapping home.
The final ten minutes of the game brought nothing much more in the way of goalmouth action for either side and while four minutes of additional time was indicated, there were no further goals as Bolton's fate for the 2015/16 season was unfortunately confirmed.