A LAST gasp goal from Ben Osborn broke Derby County hearts as Nottingham Forest came from behind at the iPro Stadium to record a vital 2-1 win in the latest instalment of the East Midlands derby.
It was a rare home loss for Derby and ended a winless run of eight games for the visitors, demonstrating the old adage about form being irrelevant in games like this.
A 17th minute own goal from Henri Lansbury gave the Rams the lead their early pressure had warranted with the Forest man heading past his own ‘keeper from a Derby corner to put the home side a goal ahead.
Steve McClaren’s side were the better team for long periods in the opening 45 minutes creating a number of chances with Jamie Ward, Will Hughes and Johnny Russell all creating problems for the visitors’ defence.
But Forest looked to end the half brightly and went close to drawing level in stoppage time as Britt Assombalonga’s powerful effort fizzing narrowly over Lee Grant’s crossbar.
The second half was back and forth with chances coming thick and fast at either end with another goal always looking likely and it was Forest who would get it with Assombalonga equalising after a goalmouth scramble in the 75th minute.
And Forest would go on to win the tie via Osborn’s late strike as he bored down on goal and slapped a shot beyond a helpless Grant before wheeling away towards the travelling supporters.
The game started at a breathless pace with both sides eager to get the opening goal and settle any derby day nerves.
Derby went close through a long range effort from Omar Mascarell, while at the other end, Michail Antonio tested Lee Grant from the edge of the box, but his effort was straight at the Derby ‘keeper who made a simple save.
Derby had a great chance to draw first blood when some clever build up play between Russell and Will Hughes allowed the Ward in, but his close range effort was well blocked by a Forest defender.
They went close again moments later when Ward got away down the left and played in Craig Bryson whose first time drive was deflected wide.
But the Rams did break the deadlock seconds later from the subsequent corner as Forest’s Lansbury attempted to clear with his head, but put through his own net, giving Derby the lead in the 17th minute.
Derby almost doubled their lead just two minutes later when a venomous 25-yard drive from Ward was tipped over by Dorus de Vries at full stretch.
At the other end, a long ball to Assombalonga was headed into the path of Jack Hobbs, but the defender’s first time effort was well wide.
Hughes went close again for the Rams with three minutes of the half remaining as he looked to curl one past de Vries, but his effort did not quite have enough bend on it and the ball narrowly drifted narrowly wide of the upright.
In the last minute of the opening period, the visitors countered and looked to pull level as Antonio burst into the area and put a low ball across goal, but Jake Buxton made an excellent block to quell the danger.
And the visitors had another chance to equalise in stoppage time when Assombalonga thumped a shot towards goal, but his shot whistled over Grant’s crossbar.
Derby made a positive start to the second half and after five minutes, Cyrus Christie was the first to try his luck, smashing a low 20-yard shot just wide of de Vries’ right post.
Six minutes later Forest had a golden opportunity to level the score when Grant missed a corner from the left, but Buxton threw himself in front of Antonio’s shot to maintain the Rams’ slender lead.
Both sides had good spells of pressure as the half wore on and with 20 minutes to go, Forest caused the Rams problems again as a corner lead to a goalmouth scramble before Grant was able to pounce on the ball to end the threat.
And just moments later, the visitors did pull level as another ball into the box wasn’t dealt with by Derby’s defenders and Assombalonga swept the ball past Grant to make it 1-1.
Forest threw everything at Derby in the final minutes and they got their reward in stoppage time, when Osborn charged towards goal and thumped a shot past Grant to settle the tie.
Russell had a chance to rescue a point in the dying seconds, but he snatched at the chance and his left-footed effort flew wide of the post and moments later the final whistle blew to end a disappointing afternoon for the Rams.
Derby County: Grant, Christie, Keogh, Buxton, Forsyth, Mascarell, Bryson, Hughes (Hendrick, 45), Ward (Bent, 76), Russell, Martin
Substitutes not used: Roos, L Naylor, Bennett, Calero, Shotton
Nottingham Forest: De Vries, Lichaj, Wilson, Hobbs (c), Kane, Antonio (McLaughlin, 81), Gardner, Tesche, Osborn, Lansbury, Assombalonga
Substitutes not used: Darlow, Lascelles, Paterson, Vaughan, Burke, Veldwijk
Attendance: 32,705, (2,645)