Bolton Wanderers had an afternoon to forget after they were well beaten by Derby County at the iPro Stadium.
Goals from Alex Pearce, Matej Vydra and Tom Lawrence ensured the hosts ran out comfortable winners and consigned Wanderers to a third successive defeat.
Phil Parkinson made five changes from the team that lost to Birmingham City in midweek. David Wheater, Mark Little, Antonee Robinson, Jem Karacan and Aaron Wilbraham were in the starting XI with Andrew Taylor, Sammy Ameobi and Derik dropping to the bench. Karl Henry overcame an injury concern to retain his place in the middle of the park.
Wheater wore the captain’s armband upon his return to the starting XI with Wanderers commencing the game in a 3-5-2 formation.
Ben Alnwick was pressed into action quite earlier on when he blocked a David Nugent effort with his legs after the hosts broke quickly following a Wanderers attack.
But the Wanderers couldn’t do anything to prevent Alex Pearce heading home the opener just two minutes later when the big defender rose unmarked to head home a Rams’ corner.
Wanderers had an opportunity to get on terms after Josh Vela latched on to a Wheater knockdown but the midfielder’s effort lacked the power to trouble the Derby defence.
Derby’s attacking threat was always present and Wanderers were fortunate to see Andreas Weimann struggle to control the ball after he sprang the offside trap.
Although Wanderers were passing the ball around well in midfield they were unable to press into the final third and test Scott Carson in the Rams’ goal.
But things went from bad to worse just after the half hour mark when Derby hit their second of the afternoon. Nugent looked to be offside as he shot towards goal and although Alnwich managed to get in the way of the striker’s shot Vydra was on hand to tap home the rebound into an empty net.
Wanderers’ brightest moment of the half came just two minutes before half time when Robinson beat his man down the left to whip in a cross. However, Curtis Davies managed to get to the ball before it reached Adam Le Fondre.
Parkinson made two changes during the break with Noone and Ameobi on for Burke and Wilbraham and with the substitutions came a change in shape as Wanderers played in a 4-2-3-1 formation.
Ameobi showed his attacking intentions almost immediately when he cut in from the left only to see Davies thwart Le Fondre once again.
The hosts hit their third through Tom Lawrence who fired from range in to the bottom right hand corner past Alnwick.
Vela tried his luck from 25 yards to at least get his side on the scoresheet but the effort flew harmlessly over Carson’s bar to sum up Wanderers’ luck.
The introduction of Noone and Ameobi saw Wanderers test the Derby defence more so than they had done in the first half.
Noone’s volley from a Little cross deflected behind before Ameobi saw his strike come off the foot of the post from an acute angle.
Wanderers made their final change with just over 15 minutes to go when Derik came on for Henry.
Carson was pressed into action to deny Mark Beevers on two separate occasions in quick succession. Both efforts came directly from corners with the former England keeper tipping over a header from the Wanderers defender then keep out his half volley.
Wanderers were enjoying something of a late attacking flurry with Wheater going close twice and Karacan seeing his shot deflect wide.
Despite the late rally, Wanderers were unable to reduce the arrears.