Chris Martin recovered from an early penalty miss to net a brace as Derby County recorded a 2-0 victory over Bolton Wanderers at the Macron Stadium.
After Craig Bryson was hauled down in the area by a trailing leg, Martin stepped up but was second-guessed by Andy Lonergan in the Bolton goal and his effort was palmed away
Derby then rode out a period of prolonged pressure from the home side, but after Martin opened the scoring on 38 minutes, Steve McClaren’s side took control.
The striker added a second, his sixth of the season, two minutes before the hour mark to effectively kill the contest and extend Derby’s unbeaten run to eight games.
After securing their place in the Fourth Round of the Capital One Cup with a 2-0 victory over Reading on Tuesday evening, Derby opted to make five changes to field the same side, bar one, that faced Cardiff City a week ago.
Jordon Ibe retained his place as one of the attacking trio, whilst Steve McClaren decided to recall Zak Whitbread to partner Richard Keogh at the heart of defence.
Dougie Freedman, whose side lost 2-1 to Chelsea Wednesday night, made six changes himself with Jay Spearing, Joe Mason, Mark Davies and Kevin McNaughton all returning to the starting line-up
Derby started the game brightly controlling large spells of possession, but after Ibe had been dispossessed on the left, Bolton created the first real opportunity of the contest.
Liam Feeney exchanged passes with Joe Mason before drilling a low cross into the area and straight into the path of Mason, but as he looked destined to score, Keogh slid across to the deflect the effort for a corner.
Undeterred, Derby soon got back into their rhythm and was presented with the perfect opportunity to open the scoring after referee, Mark Brown, awarded a penalty after eight minutes.
Craig Bryson was hauled down in the area after a free kick from the right, but as Martin stepped up from 12 yards, Andy Lonergan second guessed the striker and palmed the effort away for a corner.
Back came the Trotters and a quick free kick routine on the left set Chung Yong away, before Mason was denied by Lee Grant at his near post from the South Korean’s cut back
Martin’s miss from the spot was serving as a confidence booster for the home side as they continued to carve out the better openings.
Jay Spearing, the Wanderers captain, had a shot blocked from range which drew penalty appeals, before Mason also prevented Grant for making a save by getting in the way of another of the midfielder’s shots.
As the game passed the 25-minute mark, Martin and Bryson linked up before the striker tricked inside two challenges and crossed to the back post.
Ibe was unchallenged, but Mills, covering the unguarded net, headed away as far as Ward who slipped in Will Hughes, but the midfielder failed to make a proper connection on his curling effort that was easily saved by Lonergan.
Jamie Ward poked an effort wide after neat build up play on the right as Derby clawed their way back into the game, before seven minutes from time Martin consigned the penalty miss to the back of his mind to give the Rams the lead.
After seemingly over cooking his touch, Keogh nicked the ball off the toe of Chung Yong before slipping a pass into the feet of Christie who drilled another low cross into the area for Martin to tap past Lonergan.
The frustration of going behind was felt around the Macron Stadium as Derby comfortably saw out the remaining seven minutes of the half, but as the sun began to break through the Lancashire clouds at the start of the second period, Derby began to show more signs of their best.
A neat exchange of passes on the right nearly set Christie in on goal before a last-gasp challenge from Dorian Dervite prevented the full back from testing Lonergan, and after a quiet 10 minute spell ensued, Ibe was next to test the ‘keeper.
After showing strength to hold of Dean Moxey, the 18-year-old drove into the 18-yard box and unleashed a shot that Lonergan turned away for a corner, which Bryson just drove wide after the ball was played to him.
A minute later, Derby doubled their lead as Bryson robbed Bolton of the ball inside their own half and after the Scottish midfielder played the ball to Martin, the striker bore down on goal and lashed a high shot beyond the helpless Lonergan.
By this point, the Rams were in full control as they ground their opponents into the ground with their intense pressing game as they continued to create a host of chances
Bryson rifled an effort over on 76 minutes and Martin had a shot blocked on the edge of the area in the dying embers of the game, and when Mason did crash the ball into the back of the net from a corner with three minutes remaining, the referee blew his whistle to rule out the effort for a push.
Derby were content with their two goals and played out five minutes of added on time moving the ball across the park, pulling their opponents out of position, and after a great move, Russell rounded the keeper and fell to the ground.
This time, Brown did not point to the spot, but between missing the penalty in the first eight minutes and that moment, the Rams had already done the damage.
Derby County: Grant, Christie, Keogh (C), Whitbread, Forsyth, Eustace, Hughes, Bryson, Ibe (Russell, 76), Ward (Best, 88), Martin
Substitutes not used: Roos, L Naylor, Calero, Shotton, Mascarell
Bolton Wanderers: Lonergan, McNaughton, Mills, Dervite, Moxey, Garvan (C Davies, 58), Spearing, M Davies, Chung-Yong (Danns, 65), Feeney, Mason
Substitutes not used: Kenny, Ream, Pratley, Medo, Beckford
Attendance: 15,006 (2,193 Derby fans)