A brace from David Nugent in the first half saw Derby County secure their first away victory of the 2017/18 Sky Bet Championship campaign with a 2-1 win over Bolton Wanderers.
Gary Madine did manage to grab a consolation goal for his side late into injury time, but two key early goals from the Rams ensured Derby made it back-to-back wins in a week; following the 1-0 victory over Preston North End on Tuesday night.
As was the case against the Lilywhites in midweek, this latest three points was more than deserved – with the damage being done in the first half.
There were just eight minutes of play on the clock before the deadlock in this fixture was broken through Nugent after he guided Matej Vydra’s cross from the left into the far corner with a deft finish.
Fully in control, Derby continued to drive the ball forward and before long, Nugent doubled his tally after he headed home a well-worked cross from Johnny Russell on 21 minutes.
The contest could have been over by the interval as Vydra passed up two further chances, whilst Andre Wisdom went agonisingly close to a first goal in Derby colours after a charging run upfield.
Failure to take those chances left the door slightly ajar for Bolton, who enjoyed far more spells of possession over the second 45 minutes.
However, the Trotters very rarely threatened Scott Carson’s goal and the Rams continued to look a threat on the counter attack.
Tom Lawrence, the midweek signing from Leicester City, came on shortly after the hour and could have added a debut goal, but he fired a shot wide from the edge of the area.
Derby had to endure a jittery end as Madine halved the deficit into stoppage time, but Derby kept their cool to claim their second three points in a week.
Bolton Wanderers: Howard, Taylor (Wilbraham, 80), Dervite, Beevers, Karacan (Buckley, 67), Madine, Cullen, Armstrong (Le Fondre, 46), Pratley (C), Morais, Burk
Substitutes not used: Alnwick, Little, Robinson, Osede
Derby County: Carson, Wisdom, Keogh (C), Davies, Olsson, Huddlestone, Johnson, Weimann (Butterfield, 87), Vydra (Lawrence, 67), Russell, Nugent (Martin, 78)
Substitutes not used: Mitchell, Bryson, Baird, Pearce
Attendance: 15,175 (1,628 Derby supporters)
Early goals are crucial in most games and this certainly proved to be the case for Rowett’s side against Bolton.
From the beginning, Derby looked confident in possession and were first to every ball, allowing the forwards to do what they do best.
Nugent was at the forefront of that and his first goal on eight minutes gave Derby the belief to push on and take the game to the hosts.
They only grew in confidence after that.
A constant threat going forward, David Nugent caused all sorts of headaches for the Trotters’ defenders.
Both Nugent and Vydra shared an almost telepathic connection throughout a hugely impressive first half showing and both bounced off each other perfectly, allowing the Rams both fluency and creativity on and off the ball.
Nugent was the player that stood above the rest for Derby, though, thanks to his energy and commitment – not to mention his two goals as well!
A second trip to Blundell Park awaits Rowett’s men next as the Rams gear up for their rearranged Carabao Cup First Round fixture against Grimsby Town, which was postponed earlier in the month due to torrential rain.
On the back of two successive victories, Derby will be hoping to make in three in a row and progress through to the next round.
Undoubtedly, though, Rowett will have one eye on his side’s final fixture before the first international break against Sheffield United away from home on Saturday 26th August.