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Derby County edged past fellow top-six rivals Bolton Wanderers in a nervy Sky Bet League One clash at Pride Park Stadium.


Substitute Kane Wilson earned the Rams a 1-0 victory with a headed effort from a corner with just over ten minutes remaining.

The win, the side’s fourth in a row, means Derby stay in second place in the table with seven matches remaining in the regular league campaign.

Derby had to be at their defensive best to keep out Ian Evatt's Trotters, who enjoyed strong spells of pressure, and claim an important win.

Key Moments

Head Coach Paul Warne made one change from the 2-1 home win over Reading in midweek with centre-back Sonny Bradley unwell during the match against the Royals and failed to recover in time. That meant the long-serving Craig Forsyth was restored to the starting line-up for the first time since early January, after injuring his calf in the 3-1 victory at Fleetwood Town.

Fellow defender Callum Elder returned to the squad after missing the side’s last couple of matches owing to injury and was named on the bench.


Before a crowd of more than 32,000, Derby’s biggest home gate since December 2016 and the largest in League One this term, there was plenty of industry but little in terms of chances early on as the two sides found their feet in the contest.

The first effort on goal came after 17 minutes, and it fell Bolton’s way. After a period of pressure, Icelandic striker Jon Dadi Bodvarsson met a cross into the box from the left with a firm diving header from six yards out - but goalkeeper Joe Wildsmith responded with a superb save to claw the ball away.


Derby suffered a blow before the midway point of the first half when striker Dwight Gayle pulled up with a hamstring injury. He was replaced by midfielder Korey Smith, meaning a re-jig the Rams’ system.

Warne’s side had their first chance moments before the half-hour mark. A free-kick into the Bolton penalty area from the right by Joe Ward was met by the head of centre-back Curtis Nelson, but he couldn’t direct his effort on target and it drifted over the crossbar.


Another cross produced a chance for the Rams ten minutes before the break. Tom Barkhuizen did well to scamper away down the right and put a ball in towards Nathaniel Mendez-Laing at the near post, which was headed inches wide.

Derby made a triple change at the interval with wing-back Wilson, midfielder Liam Thompson and striker Martyn Waghorn introduced into the action in place of captain Conor Hourihane, and Barkhuizen and Ward who both felt muscle tightness and were swiftly withdrawn.

Bolton had the first chance of the second half, following suit from the opening 45 minutes. This time it was Josh Sheehan seconds after the restart testing Wildsmith’s reactions with a low effort from long range which the goalkeeper pushed away to safety diving to his right.


Wildsmith produced another fine save, keeping out George Thomason’s strike from inside the penalty area, shortly after the hour as the visitors continued to knock on the door and test Derby from a defensive aspect.

Derby worked an opportunity of their own after 67 minutes, their first of the second half. Wilson’s cross found its way to Nelson on the edge of the box, but the Rams’ number 35 saw his effort blocked by a Bolton defender.


The match became a little more end-to-end as it entered the final 20 minutes and Derby made their final change as the clock ticked down with Elder replacing Louie Sibley.

Elder’s first touch, with just over ten minutes left, set up the game's only goal. The Australian delivered an inviting and in-swinging corner into the box and substitute Wilson met it with a glancing header which evaded everyone and found the bottom corner of Joel Coleman’s net.


The goal sparked wild celebrations in from of the South Stand and the atmosphere was cranked up a notch with both sets of supporters urging their respective sides on.

Smith had a go from range as Derby looked for a second goal, but Coleman was equal to his effort with the substitute’s effort straight down the goalkeeper’s throat.


A tense ending followed as Bolton pushed for a leveller, piling forward in numbers, but Derby held firm with another superb defensive display to claim a vital three points in their quest for promotion back to the Championship.

Plenty of matches remain, however, and Warne and his side know nothing has been achieved yet - but they've put themselves in a strong position as the season's end edges ever closer.

The Teams

Derby County: Wildsmith (GK), Forsyth, Hourihane (C) (Thompson 46), Cashin, Barkhuizen (Waghorn 46), Mendez-Laing, Sibley (Elder 77), Ward (Wilson 46), Gayle (Smith 21), Adams, Nelson.

Substitutes Not Used: Loach (GK), Blackett-Taylor.

Bolton Wanderers: Coleman (GK), Jones, Thomason (Morley 84), Santos (C), Sheehan, Bodvarsson (Jerome 76), Dacres-Cogley, Ogbeta (Willams 80), Toal, Maghoma (Dempsey 84), Collins.

Substitutes Not Used: Hutchinson (GK), Iredale, Forrester.


Attendance

32,358 (3,154 away supporters)


What’s Next?

Derby are back in action in a week’s time when they head to Northampton Town on Saturday 23rd March (3pm kick-off), while their next home fixture is against Blackpool on Friday 29th March (3pm kick-off) to start their Easter games programme.


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