Barnsley supporters’ rendition of Bob Marley and the Wailers’ ‘Three Little Birds’ was silenced by John Brayford’s stoppage time equaliser at Oakwell.
David Flitcroft’s men thought they had taken a step closer to maintaining their npower Championship status through Chris O’Grady’s 47th minute strike.
However, with time running out, substitute Michael Jacobs' corner from the right caused chaos in the Barnsley penalty area, and after Richard Keogh saw his initial header save, Brayford reacted quickest to get the decisive touch, as the ball pinballed around in the six-yard box.
The former Crewe Alexandra defender’s last-gasp leveller arrived following an eventful 90 minutes, that included Mason Bennett’s first start of the 2012/13 campaign.
At just 15 years and 99 days old, Bennett became the youngest-ever player to feature for the Rams when he started in attack against Middlesbrough in October 2011.
That evening, manager Nigel Clough described the striker’s performance as a “very mature debut,” and the now 16-year-old displayed a comparable level of wisdom in the opening stages at Oakwell on Tuesday evening, after being thrusted into the first-team firing line for only the third time in his fledgling career.
The Rams’ Academy graduate was involved in the thick of the action from the early stages - even teeing up an onrushing Jeff Hendrick inside 16 minutes, only for the Republic of Ireland international to have his low drive blocked by the legs of goalkeeper Luke Steele.
Midfielder Hendrick then had a 20-yard half-volley well held by Steele, before Jake Buxton headed Coutts’ right-wing corner into the turf and agonisingly wide, all within the opening half-an-hour.
After Hendrick and Buxton’s best efforts, Bennett’s youthful enthusiasm soon had the 16-year-old at the nucleus of another of Derby’s attacking moves. On this occasion, the striker burst past Reuben Noble-Lazarus, cut inside and forced Steele into a save at the ‘keeper’s near post, prior to Coutts seeing his goalbound follow up blocked.
Despite their dominance in relation to efforts at goal in the first-half, Nigel Clough’s men did not control proceedings completely. Following the home side’s 6-0 home defeat against Charlton Athletic at the weekend, Flitcroft’s men appeared desperate to prove a point, and worked tirelessly to go toe-to-toe with the Rams’ energetic opening.
Although the closest the home side came to an opening goal in the first 45 minutes were half chances that fell to strikers O’Grady and Jason Scotland, the former required just two minutes of the second period to thrash the ball into the net from eight-yards out.
The goal immediately altered the flow of the game, as Barnsley, roared on by their home supporters, accelerated into the ascendency, with Scotland and O’Grady combining dangerously on numerous occasions, whilst the unflagging and industrious David Perkins broke up the Rams’ attacking attempts.
Conor Sammon and Jacobs were introduced in the final quarter as Clough urged the Rams on from the sidelines, although Barnsley’s back-four remained dogged and impenetrable.
However, in the dying seconds, in one last final attack, Brayford got the final touch on Jacobs’ in-swinging corner to ensure Derby would put a hault to their back-to-back defeats.
Derby County:Fielding; Brayford, Keogh, Buxton, Forsyth; Freeman (Jacobs 67), Hendrick, Coutts, Davies; Martin (Gjokaj 90), Bennett (Sammon 72).
Subsnot used: Legzdins, Doyle, Roberts, O'Connor.
Barnsley: Steele; Wiseman, Hassell (Jones 32), Cranie, Noble-Lazarus, Mellis, Perkins, Cywka (Harewood 90), O'Brien, O'Grady, Scotland (Dagnall 75)
Subsnot used: Alnwick, Rose, Patterson, Clark.
Attendance: 9,007 (839 Derby County supporters)