Two goals in each half for the second time of the week saw Derby County secure a 4-1 victory over Bolton Wanderers at the iPro Stadium.
Johnny Russell, in particular, had a fine afternoon against the Sky Bet Championship’s bottom side as he scored two and assisted the others as Darren Wassall’s side secured a fifth straight win on home soil.
Tom Ince added his name to the score sheet after the Scot had broken the deadlock, before Jacob Butterfield added a third in the second half with a shot from range.
Zach Clough, temporarily, cut the score to 3-1 from the penalty spot, but Russell had the final say, striking calmly into the far corner of the goal, as the Rams climbed one place to fifth to further cement their play-off position.
The result also confirmed Bolton’s relegation from the second tier.
Immediately from the start, as they were in Tuesday’s emphatic victory over Hull City, Derby were at the races and looked dangerous every time they progressed forward.
Ince should have opened the scoring as early as the fourth minute after a poked pass left him one-on-one with Ben Amos, but after initially rounding him, the goalkeeper recovered to block his effort for a corner.
Marcus Olsson, ambitiously, volleyed Russell’s pinpoint cross well over the crossbar soon afterwards as did Chris Martin with a first time effort, after the Rams displayed patience to craft their opportunity on the edge of the box.
It looked a matter of time and sure enough, Wassall’s side opened the scoring after turning to hit a sweet volley into the bottom corner of Amos’ goal from all of 25-yards out – his sixth goal of the campaign.
Cyrus Christie nearly made it two almost immediately after, pinching back possession deep inside the Trotters’ half before pulling his right foot shot wide.
Relentless, Derby continued to press for a quick second as Craig Bryson was next to shoot narrowly wide after another free-flowing move and Russell bent an effort over after collecting a precise pass from Richard Keogh.
With 30 minutes on the clock, Martin, from the edge of the box, drove a free kick narrowly wide of the post again.
It was one-way traffic and the only surprise was that Derby had not added to the scoreline sooner; sure enough, however, the second came with seven minutes of the first half remaining.
Russell was influential again as he picked up possession on the right hand side, before delivering a dangerous cross to the back post which Ince, stretching, connected with on the volley to send into the back of the net.
The pattern of the contest continued into the second 45 minutes as the Rams extended their dominance.
Russell, after good initial work by Bryson, curled over from just inside the penalty area, before his provider tried his own luck as Bryson drove a left foot strike narrowly beyond the crossbar following a neat interchange from the hosts.
With an hour played, Ince saw another effort deflect over for a corner and Martin saw one of his shot’s meet the same fate after the Rams hit Bolton with a swift counter attack.
It seemed as though it was just a matter of time before Derby would add an inevitable third and with 20 minutes remaining, Butterfield added another standout strike to his collection for the season.
Persistence from Bryson saw the Scottish midfielder pinch the ball back deep in the Bolton half, before he played it into the feet of Russell. Composed the wideman claimed his second assist of the afternoon, pulling the ball back to Butterfield, whose drive from 20 yards cannoned off the head of a defender and flew over the outstretched arms of Amos.
The one blemish on a fine afternoon’s work came shortly after as the visitors were awarded a penalty by Andy Woolmer, the referee, after Mark Davies had been felled in the area, leaving Clough to calmly finish beyond Scott Carson.
Undeterred, Wassall’s men restored their three-goal advantage four minutes later with Russell claiming his second after initially fluffing his lines, but after stepping past Amos, the 26-year-old struck the ball into the far corner of the goal.
Aside from the four goals, the next loudest cheer came in the dying stages of the contest as Will Hughes returned to first team action for the first time since the opening day of the campaign. Another fine day at the office for Wassall and his side, who climbed to fourth and with it confirmed Bolton’s relegation.
Derby County: Carson, Christie, Keogh (C), Shackell, Olsson; Thorne, Bryson, Butterfield (Hughes, 86); Ince (Weimann, 89), Russell, Martin
Substitutes not used: Grant, Buxton, Bent, Blackman, Hanson
Bolton Wanderers: Amos, Holding, Wheater, Derik, Moxey, Trotter (Heskey, 46), Danns, Pratley, Vela (Davies, 64), Clough, Woolery
Substitutes not used: Rachubka, Dobbie, Wilson, Twardzik, Maher
Attendance: 29,674 (514 Bolton supporters)Tweets by @ dcfcofficial