Republic of Ireland defender Alex Pearce was on target for Derby County's win over Bolton while Darren Randolph kept a clean sheet in Middlesbrough's victory against Nottingham Forest.

Derby clinched their first win at home since February 3 as they maintained their Sky Bet Championship play-off challenge by brushing aside struggling Bolton 3-0 at Pride Park Stadium.

The Rams were winless in four on their own patch but the result never looked in doubt from the moment Alex Pearce head home in the sixth minute for his first goal of the season.

Matej Vydra struck just after the half hour mark before Tom Lawrence made sure there was no way back for Wanderers with a fine finish nine minutes after half-time.

Meanwhile Randolph was on song for Boro.

The impressive Daniel Ayala scored a fine opener in the seventh minute and that was followed by Stewart Downing's low drive in the 31st minute to put Middlesbrough in the driving seat.

Before half-time Middlesbrough did concede four corners of their own in stoppage-time but showed their opponents how to defend them, with Forest's best effort a low Lee Tomlin drive saved by Randolph after one of the set-pieces was half-cleared.

And even though Forest did gain more of a foothold in the play in the second half they still struggled to cause Randolph problems in the Middlesbrough goal.

Joe Lolley did test the Republic of Ireland goalkeeper from distance but he was on hand to gather and hold comfortably.

Wes Hoolahan was introduced from the bench for Norwich in their 3-1 win over Aston Villa. He came close to adding his name to the scoresheet in the closing stages of the tie, but sent his shot over the bar.

Brentford kept their slim play-off hopes alive with a hard fought 1-0 win over Ipswich thanks to top scorer Neal Maupay's second half penalty.

The first reunion of Bees midfielder Alan Judge and Luke Hyam, who broke Judge's leg in a horror tackle at Portman Road two years ago, saw the pair rarely clash in a stop-start affair.

Judge almost had the perfect response to Hyam and his team-mates just before the break - but his fierce dipping drive was parried clear by Bartosz Bialkowski into the path of Maupay, who could only divert it over.

Sunderland missed a glorious opportunity to boost their slim Sky Bet Championship survival hopes after drawing 1-1 with 10-man Leeds at Elland Road.

The Black Cats looked to be taking full advantage of fellow strugglers Birmingham and Bolton dropping points when Paddy McNair opened the scoring.

But Pablo Hernandez levelled 18 minutes from time to leave Sunderland, who dropped down from the Premier League last season, with a mountain to climb.

Aiden McGeady and Leeds keeper Bailey Peacock-Farrell did well to keep his header out in the opening half. There were calls for a penalty when McGeady went down after a challenge from Samuel Saiz, but the referee allowed play to continue. 

Callum O'Dowda made his first start for Bristol City since November after recovering from an ankle injury, but he suffered disappointment on his return as they lost out 2-0 to Millwall.

Jed Wallace opened the scoring for Millwall with a sumptuous curling strike before Steve Morison added a second shortly after half-time.

In the end the margin could have been wider as Neil Harris's men extended their unbeaten run to 15 games and just a point outside the top six.

Anthony Pilkington was in action for Cardiff City on Friday evening, where he won a penalty for his side in the closing minutes. However, Gary Madine missed the spot kick as they were defeated 1-0 by Wolves.