Derby County produced an encouraging performance to hold Sky Bet Championship leaders Cardiff City to a 0-0 draw at the Cardiff City Stadium.
Gary Rowett’s side went closest to a winner, though, when Craig Forsyth’s cross from deep crashed against the post, whilst Neil Etheridge denied David Nugent twice in added time.
In the end, both sides were made to settle as Derby kept their first Championship clean sheet on the road since January.
The home side were restricted to efforts from range in the first half, with the lively Junior Hoilett looking most likely to break the deadlock.
He drifted inside from his position out on the left to hit a rising shot at goal after 17 minutes, but Scott Carson was alert to tip it over.
Derby had their moments at the half went on, with Tom Lawrence and then the returning Johnny Russell testing the Bluebirds’ backline with direct runs, although neither resulted in an effort on goal.
Cardiff’s attacking mindset at the start of the second half gave Derby the opportunity to play on the counter and Rowett’s side went agonisingly close twice before the hour.
First, Tom Huddlestone’s effort was deflected wide after a positive run and cross from Lawrence down the right side, before Forsyth went ever closer.
A stunning move including Bradley Johnson, Joe Ledley and Forsyth ended with the left-back’s cross looping over Neil Etheridge onto the far post.
Rowett summoned Nugent from the bench with 15 minutes remaining to increase his side’s attacking threat, and he found space on a couple of occasions before being thwarted by Sean Morrison.
Johnson will miss the East Midlands derby against Nottingham Forest after picking up his fifth yellow card this season.
Both sides went for it in the closing stages, but neither could make the breakthrough as Derby earned their second point on the road this week.
Cardiff City: Etheridge; Peltier, Ecuele Manga, Morrison, Bennett; Bamba, Damour (Tomlin 69), Ralls; Hoilett (Feeney 82), Zohore, Mendez-Laing.
Substitutes not used: Murphy, Ward, Halford, Connolly, Bogle.
Derby County: Carson; Wisdom, Keogh, Davies, Forsyth; Huddlestone, Ledley; Russell (Nugent 75), Johnson, Lawrence; Winnall (Martin 46).
Substitutes not used: Mitchell, Baird, Pearce, Weimann, Vydra.
After a lean first 45 minutes, Derby came out and created enough to encourage their travelling support in the second period.
The swift move that led to Forsyth’s effort against the post was the best bit of play from either side all afternoon, with Johnson’s deft backheel releasing Ledley who in turn fed the ball to his overlapping left-back.
Even Forsyth will admit that he went close through luck rather than judgement, but the move that created it showcased Derby’s ability to catch their opponents on the break.
Curtis Davies demonstrated his quality with a series of defensive interventions, both in the air and on the ground.
He dealt comfortably with Cardiff’s in-form front three, especially in holding firm to prevent striker Kenneth Zohore from adding to his three goals so far this season.
The Rams’ first game after the international break is the East Midlands derby against Mark Warburton’s Nottingham Forest at Pride Park Stadium.
Before that, Ledley, Lawrence, Ikechi Anya, Chris Martin and Richard Keogh will be away with their respective nations for the final round of FIFA 2018 World Cup qualifiers, with a handful of first team players also possibly travelling to Spain for the inaugural Steve Bloomer Trophy fixture against Spanish side Real Unión.