RAMS’ RAID FOR NEW HERO INCE
Hull man nets two as Derby bag four
STEVE McClaren hailed a major coup as new signing Tom Ince crowned a stunning debut with his first league goals in almost a year to help high-flying Derby sweep aside Bolton Wanderers.
The 23-year-old, who joined the Rams on loan from Premier League Hull City on transfer deadline day, immediately endeared himself to the Derby faithful with a superb free-kick to open the scoring.
Ince, who had not scored in the league since netting for Crystal Palace in the top-flight on February 8 last year, then wrapped up the points with his second two minutes after the interval.
And Rams head coach McClaren, who also signed Jesse Lingard on loan from Manchester United on deadline day, said: “It looked like he’d played in our team all season – he’s settled in so well.
“In general, I was impressed with Tom’s movement. He’s slotted into our team, played well in training and it’s a credit to the club that they have got him in.
“We’ve enjoyed training this week with Tom and also Jesse. Tom wants to score goals, he can handle the ball, and it’s a great debut for him.”
Ireland international Jeff Hendrick also notched twice for Derby as they made it eight wins from their last nine games, the only defeat coming against bitter rivals Nottingham Forest last month.
Only goal difference keeps them off top spot in the Championship although McClaren is keeping grounded.
“There are still a lot of games to be played and that’s why we need quality players to come into the team,” he added.
“We knew we’d have to be patient if we didn’t score in the first 20 minutes, and it was a beautiful goal to start off from Tom.
“The first goal is always going to be important. But after that we controlled the game, were ruthless and have gone on to win the game.”
Ruthless they were. Bolton had made life difficult for their hosts for the first 30 minutes or so and reduced them to pot shots from outside of the box.
But Derby’s first real chance of the game was Ince’s first chance to shine and he took it with aplomb as his free-kick from the edge of the box left keeper Andy Lonergan grasping at thin air. Hendrick then made it two on the stroke of halftime as he shrugged off Josh Vela’s weak tackle to hammer home second.
That knocked the stuffing out of Bolton and Derby picked up in the second half where they left off to stretch their lead. Will Hughes, the architect for Hendrick’s first, was involved again as he found Ince criminally unmarked at the back post and the winger curled the ball past Lonergan.
Bolton rallied and pulled one back soon after as the impressive Barry Bannan’s free-kick found the head of debutant Filip Twardzik, on as a half-time substitute, to reduce the deficit.
Lonergan then saved from Ward but the Rams weren’t to be denied a fourth though as Hendrick reacted quickest in the box to nod home from close range on 68 minutes.
It might even have been five late on but Ince was denied a debut hattrick when he rattled an injury-time shot off the post.
Bolton boss Neil Lennon was furious Richard Keogh wasn’t shown a red card by referee Tony Harrington late on when the Derby skipper took out Adam Le Fondre, but admitted his side were well beaten.
“The referee was awful again,” said Lennon. “You don’t want to see players sent off but Adam Le Fondre is clean through. Why would he go down unless he was fouled?
“It’s a poor performance from us though and we can’t blame the referee for that. We played well at the start but didn’t react to Tom Ince’s goal and shot ourselves in the foot.
“We left ourselves with far too much to do and Derby are a quality outfit at this level and have got real strength in depth.
“We looked a little bit lightweight and need to address that, but I’m not happy at all.”
DOUBLING UP: Derby’s Jeff Hendrick celebrates scoring their second goal with Will Hughes, Tom Ince and teammates