Ryan Shotton’s first Derby goal cancelled out an earlier effort from Nottingham Forest’s Britt Assombolonga to give the Rams a well-earned point against their local rivals in this Sky Bet Championship clash at the City Ground.
A breathless first half had everything but goals, with plenty of chances for both sides and some tough tackles flying in all over the pitch. Each side created good opportunities but struggled to find the target with Karl Darlow and Lee Grant seldom called into action.
The second half was more eventful with Assombalonga and Shotton’s goals coming just minutes apart before a late dismissal for Jake Buxton following a second yellow card added to the drama. A frantic end to the game saw both sides come close to netting a winner, but neither could find a decisive goal and a hotly-contested East Midlands derby finished level.
Both teams started brightly with chances coming thick and fast at each end during the opening fifteen minutes. The afternoon’s first chance fell to Forest’s Henri Lansbury who forced Grant into an early save with a right-footed shot from just outside the box.
At the other end, Derby won a series of corners and a free kick just outside of the Forest penalty area, but they were unable to turn any of their set pieces into clear goals scoring opportunities.
A Forest free kick after a quarter of an hour saw Lansbury call Grant into action once more, but his effort from the dead ball was straight at the Derby ‘keeper who gratefully pulled the ball into his chest.
Minutes later, a good ball from the right wing was met by the head of Britt Assombalonga, but under pressure from skipper, Richard Keogh, the Forest forward failed to get any power behind his shot and Grant made a simple save.
On the half hour mark, Derby won another free kick around 25 yards from goal from which Craig Bryson whipped a powerful effort towards goal, but it was too close to Darlow who didn’t have to move far to smother the shot.
Derby were starting to find their feet in the game and moments later, after some neat build up play, a Will Hughes cross from the right was met by the head of Johnny Russell, but his effort was deflected harmlessly wide.
In the last minute of normal time Forest had a golden opportunity to break the deadlock when Assombalonga rose to meet an excellent Lansbury delivery, but the forward’s close range header lacked direction and sailed over Grant’s crossbar.
Seconds later, Robert Tesche picked up the ball 30-yards from goal and smacked an effort towards goal, but it whistled just wide of the Derby goal and referee Paul Tierney blew his whistle to signal the end of the first half, shortly after.
Derby started the second half the brighter of the two teams, troubling the Forest defence with good chances for Chris Martin and Will Hughes. Martin’s first real effort of the game was off target, while Hughes’ shot from a corner required a brave defensive block.
Forest broke away and when Michail Antonio picked up the ball on the left wing, he powered towards goal and lashed an effort towards the bottom left corner, but Grant got down quickly to make a smart save.
And it was Forest who eventually opened the scoring with twenty minutes to go when Antonio laid the ball off to Britt Assombalonga who turned and hit a great effort into the bottom corner past a sprawling Grant to make it 1-0 to the hosts.
It could have been two just moments later when a cross from the right wing arrowed towards the head of Antonio who rose high to meet it but he couldn’t direct his header on target and it bounced wide.
A quick break from Derby almost pulled them back into the game when a great through ball from Hughes found Forsyth charging into the area, but Darlow got out quickly and blocked his low cross before it could reach Leon Best.
But the Rams did manage to equalise when from the subsequent corner as Keogh headed an effort against the crossbar with Ryan Shotton knocking the ball over the line and netting his first goal for Derby and make the score 1-1.
Jake Buxton was dismissed late on for a second bookable offence meaning the Rams had to see out the dying minutes with only ten men, but the men in black and white defended valiantly and were able to keep the hosts at bay to earn a deserved point.
Derby County:Grant, Shotton, Keogh, Buxton, Forsyth, Eustace (Calero 76’), Hughes, Bryson (Ibe 76’), Dawkins, Russell (Best 68’), Martin
Substitutes not used:Christie, Whitbread, Roos, Mascarell.
Nottingham Forest:Darlow, Lichaj, Mancienne, Cohen (Tesche 15’), Assombalonga, Lansbury, Reid (Osborn 42’ (Veldwijk 90’)), Hunt, Antonio, Hobbs, Burke.
Substitutes not used:De Vries, Wilson, Fox, Paterson.