Patrick Bamford’s second goal in seven days helped Derby County rescue a point against Blackburn Rovers at Ewood Park.
The on-loan Chelsea forward beautifully stroked the ball into the bottom corner in the 84th minute to level the game, after Rovers had taken the lead through Rudy Gestede’s diving header.
Derby went into the match with the best away record in the Championship this season, winning eight and drawing two of their 13 games, and unsurprisingly they started in a positive manner, holding a high defensive line that allowed Jamie Ward to ferret and hassle the opposition into mistakes, whilst Craig Bryson and Jeff Hendrick continually burst forward into Blackburn’s penalty area whenever possible.
But despite the Rams’ bright opening, it was Rovers who threatened first through Gestede’s towering far post header that forced Lee Grant into a fine save. The former Cardiff City forward then saw his goal-bound header from the resulting corner scythed away.
The game continued to ebb and flow, but was brought to a shuddering halt when Ben Marshall was stretchered off with what looked a serious injury, after the winger came off worse in a tackle with Hendrick.
Former Burnley shot-stopper Grant, who was greeted by boos from the home supporters when in possession of the ball, was called into action in the 24th minute, when Gestede’s flick-on fell into the path of Jordan Rhodes. With Buxton indecisive, Grant raced off of his goal line to thwart the Scotland international.
Tom Cairney’s dipping first time volley then dropped narrowly wide, while Gestede fired straight into the arms of Grant, after the tall striker pickpocketed experienced John Eustace of possession.
With ten minutes of the first half remaining, Hendrick, who had failed to recover from the challenge from Marshall, was withdrawn, and was replaced by England Under-21 international Will Hughes.
After a tight stalemate in the first-half, the second 45 minutes got off to an electric opening, as just 120 seconds into the restart, Rovers took the lead.
Rhodes collected the ball following a loose pass by Richard Keogh and raced towards the Rams’ goal. With Gestede unmarked alongside him, the Scotsman drew Buxton out wide before clipping the ball into the six-yard box, where his strike partner duly dived in to head past Grant.
After losing 4-1 to Nottingham Forest last weekend, Rovers looked to expunge their defensive lapses by deploying a 4-4-2 formation, with two rigid banks of four in defence and midfield.
With Derby struggling to create clear opportunities, Head Coach Steve McClaren was once again bold with his substitutions, introducing both Bamford and Conor Sammon in attack, and the duo began to cause an increasingly nervous looking Rovers back-line serious problems.
Craig Forsyth and Simon Dawkins both had opportunities to draw the Rams level, while Hughes’ exquisite chip from an acute angle bounced off the top of the crossbar, as Derby began to impose themselves on the match.
As the Rams’ momentum gathered pace, chances began to flow as Dawkins cut inside and fired into the side netting, before Bamford let fly with a sublime curling 20-yard effort that dipped into the bottom corner and deservedly drew the visitors level with six minutes remaining.
With a plethora of forwards on the field, the Rams continued with an attacking emphasis, and even had an opportunity to grab all three points later on when Bamford shifted the ball onto his right foot but prodded over from a tight angle.
Derby County: Grant (GK), Wisdom, Keogh, Buxton, Forsyth, Eustace (Sammon 71’), Hendrick (Hughes 34'), Bryson, Ward (Bamford 63’), Dawkins, Martin.
Subs not used: Legzdins (GK), Whitbread, Keane, Russell.
Blackburn Rovers: Robinson (GK), Henley, Hanley, Kilgallon, Spurr, Marshall (Williamson 23’), Lowe, Cairney, Taylor, Gestede (Kane 83'), Rhodes.
Subs not used: Eastwood (GK), Dunn, Olsson, Morris, Mahoney.
Attendance: 13,796 (1,120 visiting supporters).