Derby County opened their Sky Bet Championship account with a hard fought 0-0 draw with Bolton Wanderers.

Derby County opened their Sky Bet Championship account with a hard fought 0-0 draw with Bolton Wanderers.

In a contest lacking in clear-cut chances, Derby came closest through Johnny Russell whose rising shot clattered the top of the crossbar midway through the first half.

Bolton, who controlled large periods of the contest at the Macron Stadium, hit the crossbar themselves on three occasions in the second half, but could not find a way past Scott Carson before Jay Spearing was sent off with four minutes remaining.

For 75 minutes in Lancashire the contest lacked bite and energy as both sides seemed content with sparring rather than finding, and delivering, a heavy body blow.

Russell’s rising shot from Jeff Hendrick’s cut back that crashed against the top of Ben Amos’ woodwork was the closest Paul Clement’s side came all afternoon, whilst the Scottish forward saw another shot across goal saved by the feet of the former Manchester United goalkeeper.

They proved to be the only chances of note in the opening 45 minutes as Derby spent the majority of the half holding their exuberant hosts at arms length, restricting their purposeful play to efforts from range.

Lawrie Wilson and Liam Feeney shot wide with Bolton’s only chances as Scott Carson’s goal remained untroubled going into the break.

Clement, though, had his own worries and was forced into two early changes with Craig Bryson and Will Hughes leaving the action and being replaced with Jeff Hendrick and Ryan Shotton due to injury.

The tempo and the flow of the opening day contest extended into the second half as Bolton continued to control larger spells of possession without testing Carson.

Spearing saw a tame shot straight at easily gathered by the ‘keeper Carson after he stretched to reach Zach Clough’s pull back to the edge of the area, whilst Chris Martin poked a loose ball over the bar from Chris Baird’s dangerous centre as the contest ticked past the hour mark.


The introduction of former England striker Emile Heskey injected another dimension into the home side’s play and in the space of 10 minutes, Lennon’s side cracked the woodwork on three occasions.

Heskey, former Liverpool man, was the first to be denied within minutes of coming on as he crashed a header against the crossbar from a dangerous right wing cross, before Gary Madine was left frustrated on two occasions – the first a looping header before driving a shot against the bar seven minutes later.

More drama etched its way into the encounter a minute later when Bolton’s total control was vanquished after Spearing was shown a second yellow by Andrew Madley for adjudged simulation.

With seconds remaining, Derby had the chance to nick an unlikely victory as they broke at pace through the middle, but Tom Ince’s heavy touch so the chance to strike disappear, before Chris Baird saw his effort blocked and the opportunity was gone.

Bolton Wanderers: Amos, Wilson, Prince, Dervite, Moxey, Spearing, Pratley (Trotter, 90), Danns, Feeney, Clough (Heskey, 73), Madine

Substitutes not used: Fitzsimons, Vela, Davies, Dobbie, Holding

Derby County: Carson, Baird, (C), Keogh, Shackell, Warnock; Thorne, Bryson (Hendrick, 20), Hughes (Shotton, 32), Ince; Martin, Russell (Weimann, 67)

Substitutes not used: Grant, Forsyth, Bent, Pearce

Attendance: 17,608 (3,608 Derby supporters)

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