Derby County edged the chances but couldn’t break down Bristol City as two of the Sky Bet Championship’s promotion rivals played out a tense goalless draw at Pride Park Stadium.
Johnny Russell came closest as he struck the crossbar with a brilliant free-kick in the first half, but Gary Rowett’s side just couldn’t find the crucial goal despite dominating much of the second period.
There was controversy late on when debutant Cameron Jerome was brought down inside the area, but the referee showed the striker a yellow card for simulation.
Lee Johnson’s side controlled possession early on and they should have had the lead on 13 minutes when a loose ball ran to an unmarked Jamie Paterson, but he side-footed well over the bar.
The Rams grew into the game and Matej Vydra forced a good save from former Derby man Frank Fielding from a free-kick after half an hour, before Curtis Davies had a header cleared off the line.
Derby broke forward with Vydra and Tom Lawrence combining well before the Welshman was fouled just outside the area, with Russell smashing the resulting set-piece off the crossbar.
The hosts went close again on the stroke of half-time, as Russell’s shot found Richard Keogh in space inside the six-yard box but the skipper couldn’t divert his effort towards goal, before Davies headed the rebound just over.
Josh Brownhill found himself in a similar position to Paterson early in the second half but this time the side-footed shot was straight at Scott Carson.
Vydra had an effort saved moments later after good work from David Nugent on the counter-attack, before Lawrence forced a strong stop from City’s substitute ‘keeper Luke Steele.
The Championship top scorer had a glorious chance to put the Rams in front with 23 minutes to go as Nugent played him in, but Steele once again thwarted the Czech.
Sam Winnall came off the bench looking to make an impact as he has done on occasion already this season, but he placed his effort just off target after Andreas Weimann squared.
Jerome was clearly brought down inside the area as the minutes ran down, but the referee booked the striker instead and the points were shared.
Derby County: Carson; Wisdom, Keogh, Davies, Forsyth; Huddlestone, Thorne; Russell, Vydra (Jerome, 76’), Lawrence (Weimann, 76’); Nugent (Winnall, 76’).
Substitutes not used: Mitchell, Baird, Pearce, Hanson.
Bristol City: Fielding (Steele, HT); Wright, Flint, Baker (Diedhiou, HT), Magnusson; Smith, Pack; Brownhill, Paterson, Bryan; Reid.
Substitutes not used: Walsh, Engvall, Eliasson, Kelly, Kent.
After Vydra forced a good stop from a free-kick, Russell tried his luck the next time around and came within inches of putting Derby in front.
Fielding had no chance as the winger thundered his effort towards goal, but the crossbar kept the scores level.
Russell was the star of the show against Birmingham City last week and he displayed the same directness and pace that made him such a nuisance at St Andrew’s here.
The Robins’ backline couldn’t handle his strong running and he created a good opportunity for Lawrence before bending an effort just wide himself as Derby searched for the lead.
The Rams have a break before their next game, with the trip to The Den to face Millwall having been rearranged for Tuesday 30th January.
Derby then return to Pride Park to take on Brentford on Saturday 3rd February.