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Derby 4-1 Bolton Wanderers: Match Report

Wanderers suffered another FA Cup hangover as they returned to league action with a 4-1 hammering at high-flying Derby

Andy Lonergan conceded four goals for a second league match in a row at Derby yesterday
Andy Lonergan conceded four goals for a second league match in a row at Derby yesterday
Michael Steele/Getty Images

Bolton Wanderers put in a defensive horror show as they gifted three points to Derby County, who walked to a 4-1 victory with braces from debutant Tom Ince and Jeff Hendrick.

Promotion-chasing Derby were by far the better team against a Bolton side that again struggled to recover from their FA Cup exploits with Liverpool - conceding four goals in both of the games after their meetings against the Premier League side.

The hosts opened the scoring with the game's first shot on target as Ince curled in a brilliant free-kick after 39 minutes of his debut, following Liam Trotter's foul on Chris Martin.

The goal clearly affected Wanderers, who had been fairly comfortable until that point, and in true Bolton style they soon ensured they were well out of the game. Derby doubled their lead on the stroke of half-time when Will Hughes found Hendrick to steer the ball home from 12 yards.

Whatever Neil Lennon said at half-time didn't have the desired effect as Derby moved 3-0 ahead with Ince's second just two minutes into the second half, finishing off a good move.

Wanderers did then find a way into the game as two debutants combined. Barry Bannan whipped a free-kick into the box and Filip Twardzik, off the bench to replace the hapless Trotter at half-time, headed home four minutes after Derby's third.

But any dreams of a miraculous comeback was dashed as Derby maintained their control of the match. Lonergan made two saves from Jamie Ward and Real Madrid-loanee Omar Mascarell, but a fourth goal wasn't too far away as Hendrick added his second of the game. Ince almost grabbed a debut hat-trick but was denied by the bar in stoppage time.

Having put in two impressive, solid defensive displays against Liverpool, Lennon must be alarmed by the way his side have defended in the league since - conceding 10 goals in their last three league matches. The poor run of form means any faint hopes of the play-offs are well and truly gone and Lennon needs to try and build a side that can be competitive next season, while ensuring we don't suffer a sustained run of poor form that could see us drift towards the relegation zone.

Wanderers' run of fixtures also don't look particularly easy, with the likes of promotion chasing Watford and Middlesbrough in the next five matches - and a first meeting with former manager Dougie Freedman in two weeks' time.

The January signings should make a difference once they've bedded in but it's vital that we start to get our injured players back, with Craig Davies a particularly important requirement. It would also be nice to see Trotter nowhere near the starting eleven, and hopefully Twardzik, Bannan and fellow new signing Simeon Slavchek will ensure that happens.

Realistically I don't think many Bolton fans expected a win at Derby, who are probably the best team in the league, but getting three points at home to Fulham on Tuesday night is now vital.