Sam Winnall scored his first Derby County goal, but the Rams were forced to settle for a point by Birmingham City at Pride Park Stadium.
The forward, on a season-long loan from Sheffield Wednesday, turned in Richard Keogh’s header back across goal – levelling matters just two minutes after Lukas Jutkiewicz had opened the scoring for the Blues.
Over the course of the game the hosts had, largely, been frustrated by a Birmingham side that was set up by Lee Carsley, the caretaker manager, to stifle Gary Rowett’s men.
That was the particularly the case over the first half.
Unable to construct any real rhythm, the general flow of the game was scattered and chances came at a premium, until the interval closed in.
The excellent Curtis Davies had to be on his guard to deflect Sam Gallagher’s close-range shot behind for a corner and later, the Rams could have edged into the break in the lead, but for a superb save.
David Nugent led a counter-attack before finding his spectacular curled effort on the edge of the box met by an equally-impressive diving save from Tomasz Kuszczak.
During the second half, the football continued in the same vein with neither side able to complete the crucial final pass.
Though Derby attempted to pepper Birmingham’s box at every opportunity, the Blues refused to wilt as tensions began to rise.
After a couple of changes from both sides, the deadlock was broken just after the hour as Jutkiewicz, on as a substitute, scored with his touch by converting Craig Gardner’s cross to put Carsley’s side ahead.
Rowett’s side, though, reacted perfectly with Sam Winnall, on as a substitute himself, opening his Derby account just two minutes later by finishing off Richard Keogh’s header at the far post.
The game was back on and with confidence flowing, Winnall fancied his efforts once more, this time from range – however, Kuszczak threw his body behind the shot.
Winnall’s goal had completely changed the course of the game and on 74 minutes and the Rams were in the ascendancy. Mason Bennett looked to make the most of this as he found himself clear through on goal, however, a strong stop from Kuszczak kept things level.
In the end, though, Rowett’s men were forced to settle for a point as Birmingham held on to end a run of six straight defeats in all competitions.
Derby County: Carson, Baird, Keogh (C), Davies, Olsson; Huddlestone, Johnson; Lawrence, Vydra (Winnall, 67), Weimann (Bennett, 67); Nugent (Martin, 63)
Substitutes not used: Mitchell, Wisdom, Pearce, Bennett, Ledley
Birmingham City: Kuszczak, Nsue, Colin, Gardner, Dean, N’doye, Gallagher (Jutkiewicz, 63), Maghoma. Boga (Vassell, 63), Davis, Morrison (C)
Substitutes not used: Grounds, Roberts, Cotterill, Trueman, Gleeson
Attendance: 27,932 (3,122 away supporters)
Proving to be Derby’s turning point in the game, Winnall came onto the pitch as a substitute and within a minute of being on the pitch, Derby were back on level terms.
It was crucial too. The Rams had just fallen behind and they needed an immediate response.
Thereafter, the momentum of the contest changed and Derby looked the only side that was going to go on and win, but City’s resilience saw them hold on to claim a point.
A prominent figure at the back, Curtis Davies was everything that you want your centre-back to be.
Commanding, organised and strong in the tackle, Davies was key in the centre of Derby’s defence and he dealt with Birmingham’s high-pressing game plan perfectly throughout the 90 minutes.
This was arguably one of his best games since joining the club from Hull City in the summer.
Mason Bennett and Winnall also both impressed as second half substitutes and have done their chances of being promoted to the starting XI next week no harm.
Back-to-back away games lie ahead for the Rams before the second international break of the season.
Griffin Park is first on the agenda on Tuesday night to face a Brentford side that claimed their first win of the season on Saturday – beating Bolton Wanderers 3-0 at the Macron Stadium.
Then, Rowett’s side hit the road once again with another long trip to the Welsh Capital to face Cardiff City.