Paul Coutts’ first ever goal for the Club rescued a point for the Rams, after a Lukas Jutkiewicz double handed Middlesbrough a 2-1 lead at the Riverside Stadium.
Derby went ahead through Theo Robinson’s 14th minute spot-kick, but a goal in each half from former Coventry City striker Jutkiewicz looked to have handed Tony Mowbray’s side all three points.
However, Coutts fired past England under-21 international Jason Steele inside the final two minutes of the game to secure a well earned point for Nigel Clough’s men.
After a quiet opening five minutes, the home side ventured forward for the opening attempt of the game. Despite the Rams players’ appeals of an offside, Grant Leadbitter strode forward and struck a venomous 25-yard effort straight at goalkeeper Frank Fielding.
Two minutes later, some patient build up from the Boro culminated in captain Nicky Bailey’s 20-yard drive falling narrowly wide of Fielding’s goal.
Then skipper Richard Keogh turned Leadbitter’s dangerous free-kick over his own crossbar, as the home side began to step-up their attacking threat in the Rams’ final third.
However, Mowbray’s side were made to pay for failing to convert their early opportunities, as with 14 minutes gone on the clock, referee Michael Naylor awarded the Rams a spot-kick.
Craig Bryson showed sheer grit and determination to burst into the penalty area after latching on to Jeff Hendrick’s cleverly weighted pass. The Scotsman did well to cut the ball back, but was hauled down by the clumsy challenge of Andre Bikey, leaving Naylor with little option but to award the penalty.
Former Millwall striker Robinson stepped up confidently, and coolly drove the resulting spot-kick beyond the reach of Middlesbrough goalkeeper Steele.
However, the pendulum swung in the opposite direction just four minutes later. Chelsea loanee Josh McEachran’s free-kick was palmed clear by Fielding, but only as far as Jutkiewicz, who stabbed the loose ball home from inside the six-yard box.
Boro Academy graduate Luke Williams then sent a volley narrowly wide of Fielding’s near post following George Friend’s clever knock-down, whilst at the other end, Hendrick found Robinson in space on the edge of the Boro penalty area, but the striker’s low shot was blocked by Steele.
It was a tentative start to the second-half, with the first real effort of either side coming shortly after the hour mark when Robinson’s shot from the edge of the penalty area was deflected wide for a corner.
Mowbray introduced Emmanuel Ledesma and Merouanne Zemmama in the 66th minute to try and liven up proceedings at the Riverside, and the former almost made an immediate impact as his lung-busting run was followed up with a low drive that skidded wide off the wet turf.
But with just nine minutes remaining Boro proved clinical. Substitute Zemmama’s cleverly dinked cross was powerfully headed home by Jutkiewicz, to hand the home side an unlikely lead.
However, the Rams showed real strength of character to level the game. Substitute Conor Sammon’s pull-back bobbled around in the penalty area, and Coutts took the initiative to fire the ball past Steele from eight-yards out.
And Clough’s men did not rest on their laurels as they went in search of a winner – and almost found one. Bryson’s low cross was dummied by Sammon, and the ball fell kindly for Robinson, but the 23-year-old fired his effort into the side netting, with the travelling Derby supporters on their feet.
Derby County: Fielding (GK); Brayford, Keogh, Buxton, Roberts (O’Connor 88); Coutts, Hendrick (Jacobs 83), Bryson, Hughes; Robinson, Tyson (Sammon 58).
Subs Not Used: Legzdins (GK), Freeman, Gjokaj, Bennett.
Middlesbrough: Steele (GK); Hoyte, Hines, Bikey, Friend; McEachran (Ledesma 66), Thomson (Zemmama 66) (Haroun 83), Bailey, Leadbitter; L Williams, Jutkiewicz.
Subs Not Used: McManus, Leutwiler, Parnaby, Smallwood.
Attendance: 13,377 (279 Visiting Supporters.)