Derby County secured their fifth win in six outings by inflicted a well-earned 4-2 victory over Wolverhampton Wanderers at the iPro Stadium.
Chris Martin netted two in the first half to sandwich Benik Afobe’s effort, but could not complete his hat trick after seeing a penalty saved on the cusp of half time.
Bradley Johnson, though, benefitted from the resulting corner and Johnny Russell added a fourth shortly before the hour mark with Paul Clement’s side in cruise control.
Adam Le Fondre volleyed Wolves’ second of the afternoon, but it was not enough to inspire a fightback in front of the Sky Sports cameras.
Right from the off, Derby were on the front foot and made the perfect start by taking the lead inside three minutes.
On the score sheet for Scotland last weekend, Martin’s opening strike at the iPro Stadium oozed quality.
From a throw in on the left side, the forward flicked a ball into the path of Bradley Johnson, who in turn threaded a pass into the feet of Jeff Hendrick lurking on the edge of the area. The midfielder, with space and time, laid the ball into the path of Martin to lash a first time strike beyond Emiliano Martinez in the visitors’ goal.
Paul Clement’s side were relentless. George Thorne tested the ‘keeper with a rasping volley on nine minutes as they looked for a quick second.
Wolves held firm, though, and hit back through a simple corner routine just shy of the 20 minute mark.
From the right, the ball was swept in low to the centre where Afobe struck an unstoppable drive beyond the rooted Scott Carson.
The Rams looked for an instant response, first through Martin whose scuffed shot did not quite get the better of Martinez.
Later, Jason Shackell’s vital block prevented Adam Le Fondre from edging Kenny Jackett’s side in front in an end-to-end affair and after weathering their own storm, the Rams hit back to retake the lead.
From the edge of the area, Bradley Johnson lofted a dangerous cross into the six-yard box and after Martinez, rashly, charged his area to punch the danger away, Martin rose to nod the ball into an empty net.
Hendrick, who netted twice in this fixture last season, saw another effort palmed away by the on-loan Arsenal goalkeeper, but with half time looming, Clement’s men added a crucial third goal.
After Tom Ince was hauled down, Martin had the chance to wrap up a first half hat trick, but although he was denied by Martinez and that seemed to be the end of the first half play, Johnson added his name to the score sheet.
From an outswinging corner, the ball bounced into the path of the midfielder poked the ball across the Wolves penalty area and into the far corner of the goal =- a fine ending to a strong first half attacking display.
It did not take long for the Rams to hit their stride in the second half – 55 seconds to be precise – as the industrious Johnny Russell stung the palms of Martinez after a strong run from deep, before Shackell turned a near post corner from the wideman past the post.
With the confidence flowing, Derby took full control of the contest and duly added a fourth goal to their tally.
Great feet from Hendrick created space out on the left for Craig Forsyth and after his initial cross had been saved, Russell picked up the pieces to smash beyond Martinez.
Jackett’s side never lay down, though, and cut the deficit back to two shortly after the hour mark, Adam Le Fondre, acrobatically, beating Carson after good work by Sheyi Ojo, the substitute.
The contest continued in the same manner with Derby well on top. Ince fizzed an effort narrowly wide from range, whilst Johnson, after dispossessing Kevin McDonald, drove a low shot straight into the arms of Martinez.
With time ticking down, Russell came close to adding his second, bringing down Jacob Butterfield’s precise lofted pass, but his poked volley was beaten away by the visitors’ ‘keeper once more.
There was still time for Ince to fire over as Derby finished strongly to record their fifth Sky Bet Championship win in six games.
Derby County: Carson, Christie (Baird, 78), Keogh, Shackell, Forsyth; Thorne, Hendrick (Butterfield, 74), Johnson; Ince, Russell, Martin (C) (Bent, 87)
Substitutes not used: Grant, Weimann, Shotton, Warnock
Wolves: Martinez; Iorfa, Batth (c), Hause, Golbourne; Henry, McDonald, Price (Coady, 61), Wallace (Ojo, 61); Afobe, Le Fondre (Enobakhare, 82)
Substitutes not used: Ikeme, Doherty, van La Parra, Byrne
Attendance: 29,063Tweets by @ dcfcofficial