A late leveller from Brentford forced Derby County to settle for a second successive 1-1 draw on Tuesday evening.
Under the floodlights of Griffin Park, Joe Ledley marked his first appearance in a Derby shirt with a headed goal after just 16 minutes.
It came during the Rams’ strongest attacking spell of the contest and included a Tom Lawrence effort that was beaten away 10 minutes earlier when he cut in from the left to unleash a testing shot which Daniel Bentley pushed away.
After that, things got heated pretty quick with seven players in total picking up yellow cards inside the first half.
For the remaining 75 minutes, Brentford bossed possession, but often let themselves down with their final ball as Derby’s backline dealt with everything that was thrown their way.
Both Neal Maupay and Chris Mepham, the substitute, created opportunities to draw level but they proved to be near-misses as Derby continued to frustrate the lively Bees.
With less than a quarter of an hour remaining, Nico Yennaris then followed up his teammates’ shot with a long-range effort which also went well wide.
It had been a perfect away performance for Derby, but on 85 minutes Ollie Watkin’s dealt the visitors a killer blow and scored the all-important equaliser that his side had been pushing by poking home a left-sided cross to salvage something from the game.
With little time remaining, Gary Rowett’s side piled on the attacking pressure, but in the end, there was simply not enough time to force two extra points from the fixture.
Brentford: Bentley, Henry, Bjelland (Mepham, 46), Yennaris (C), Maupay, Watkins, Woods (McEachran, 69), Sawyers, Clarke (Jozefzoon, 56), Dalsgaard, Barbet
Substitutes not used: Daniels, McEachran, Mototjo, Shaibu, Chatzitheodoridas,
Derby County: Carson, Wisdom, Keogh (C), Davies, Forsyth; Huddlestone, Ledley (Vydra, 81); Bennett (Weimann, 10), Johnson, Lawrence; Winnall (Nugent, 69)
Substitutes not used: Mitchell, Martin, Baird, Pearce
Watkin’s goal five minutes from time killed all hope of Derby taking anything other than a point away from the game and also denied the Rams a first clean sheet on the road since the end of January.
Up until that point, Gary Rowett’s side had defended manfully and restricted a Brentford side that controlled 76 per cent of possession to just two shots on target.
Unfortunately, they made one of them count.
Apart from the final five minutes, an impressive performance all-round for the defence could have seen any of the backline awarded the Man of the Match award, however, Curtis Davies again, stood out.
It wasn’t just the pretty stuff that he did well either, Davies got his head on virtually everything and relieved pressure at crucial times to ensure that Brentford’s attack remained frustrated right until the last few minutes.
A trip to high-flying Cardiff City is next up for Derby and their trip to south wales marks are their second successive away trip of the week.
That marks as the final fixture before the second international break of the 2017/18 season and a two-week break before the East Midlands derby clash with Nottingham Forest.
Before that, a handful of first team players could be heading out to Spain for the first ever Steve Bloomer Trophy fixture against Real Union.