The Rams kicked off their 2012/13 npower Championship campaign with a 2-2 draw at home to Sheffield Wednesday, as Reda Johnson snatched an 90th minute equaliser for the Owls.
Nathan Tyson got the Rams off to a flying start with a close-range finish in the 11th minute, before Jake Buxton doubled the Rams’ advantage with trademark header just 15 minutes later.
Chris O’Grady’s spectacular 39th minute strike brought the Rams back down to earth, but Nigel Clough’s men looked like they had secured the three points until Johnson nodded Gary Madine’s knock-down into the net in injury time.
There were two early scares for Nigel Clough’s men as inside the opening five minutes, O’Grady had an effort that was well held by Frank Fielding, before Jermaine Johnson eluded both John Brayford and Gareth Roberts, but could only drag his shot wide of goal.
However, the Rams took the game by the scruff of the neck and their fast, flowing football was rewarded with an 11th minute opener.
Roberts’ left-wing cross was initially flicked on by Jamie Ward; the ball fell kindly for Tyson, who in what seemed like slow motion, took a touch and slotted it into the bottom corner past Chris Kirkland.
Chances followed through Ward and Keogh as the Rams started to take control of proceedings, and just 15 minutes after taking the lead, Buxton doubled the home side’s advantage.
After Paul Coutts’ right-wing corner was initially cleared, the Scot was handed a second bite of the cherry and he duly delivered an inch-perfect cross for Buxton, who escaped the clutches of Reda Johnson to powerfully head the ball past former Liverpool ‘keeper Kirkland.
Coutts’ delivering was causing the away side plenty of problems and just after the half-an-hour mark, Tyson saw his half-volley from six-yards out expertly blocked by former Kirkland, from point-blank range.
However, despite controlling large spells of possession, the Rams’ lead was pegged back five minutes before the interval as O’Grady swivelled on the edge of the penalty area and sent a swerving 20-yard strike into the top corner, leaving Fielding with no chance.
In the second-half, Ward called Kirkland into action on 50 minutes when the Northern Irish international’s 30-yard free-kick looked to be heading into the bottom corner, but fortunately for the visitors, Kirkland was on hand to divert the ball behind.
Eight minutes later, Dave Jones’ side continued to look dangerous on the break as Johnson ghosted past four Derby County players, but could only stab an effort over the crossbar.
With 20 minutes remaining the Owls thought they had levelled the match when Lewis Buxton’s cross-shot was turned in by Gary Madine, however the former Carlisle hit-man had strayed into an offside position and the goal was duly scrubbed off.
It was a nervous final few minutes at Pride Park Stadium as the visitors searched for the elusive equaliser and after warning signs from Johnson and O’Grady, the Owls got their second goal through Johnson.
Lewis Buxton’s cross was expertly knocked down by Madine at the far post, and Johnson was on hand to nod the ball into the turf and over Fielding to secure a point.
Derby County: Fielding (GK); Brayford, Keogh, Buxton, Roberts; Coutts, Bryson, Hendrick, Hughes (Gjokaj 86); Ward (Robinson 81), Tyson (O’Connor 73).
Subs Not Used: Legzdins (GK), Bennett, Jacobs, Doyle.
Sheffield Wednesday: Kirkland (GK); Buxton, Gardner (Beevers 81), Llera, R. Johnson; J. Johnson, Semedo, Pecnik (Madine 55), McCabe, Antonio; O'Grady.
Subs Not Used: Bywater (GK), Mattock, Maguire, Coke, Prutton.
Attendance: 27,437 (Including 5,952 Visiting Supporters).