Derby County opened their 2021/22 Sky Bet Championship campaign with a 1-1 draw against Huddersfield Town at Pride Park Stadium.
Fans were welcomed back to Pride Park Stadium for a competitive fixture for the first time in almost 18 months
The opening goal of the game came deep in the first half from Nathan Byrne's corner which was turned in by Levi Colwill, before Naby Sarr headed in the equaliser on the stroke of half-time.
Wayne Rooney named Richard Stearman in the starting XI, as the centre-back made his Derby debut alongside Curtis Davies as the pair and Ryan Allsop put pen to paper on one-year deals the day before the game.
It was a fairly tentative and even opening from both sides as they returned to competitive action.
Kelle Roos, back between the sticks for the Rams, was called into action on two occasions in the first 15 minutes.
The Terriers moved the ball well around the area which allowed Ollie Turton to free up down the right. His deep cross was knocked back across the goal by Sorba Thomas, but Danny Ward’s header turned out to be a comfortable save for Roos.
Moments later, Turton delivered another cross from the right across goal, but the Derby keeper was able to get enough of a touch on it with his fingertips to change its direction to be cleared.
The Rams had their first opportunity on the 17-minute mark when Craig Forsyth won a header in the attacking half and found Louie Watson before Colin Kazim-Richards held the ball up well on the edge of the area before cutting back to Max Bird.
The midfielder drilled a low through-ball into the area for Watson to run onto and go one-on-one with Ryan Schofield, however he went to ground before he could shoot. However, the referee waved off pleas for a penalty.
The Terriers had a chance to take the lead minutes later when Nathan Byrne was shown a yellow card for a foul on Thomas down the left side of the area. Thomas whipped a free kick into the area and Ward looked to volley in the opener, only to be denied by a brilliant block by Stearman before Tom Lawrence cleared the danger.
Straight down the other end, the Rams were on the attack again. Lawrence was taken down in the area, but as the referee said no penalty, the ball was fed back out to Forsyth to ping in a fierce ball in front of goal for Kazim-Richards to head on, but his effort was deflected for a corner.
Derby continued on the front foot and applied the pressure in the Huddersfield box in the closing minutes of the half. Forsyth supplied a number of dangerous crosses into the area before a deflection out for a corner.
Byrne sent the left-sided corner to the near post, it was headed across the face of the goal and the Huddersfield defender tunred it in at the back post.
However, with one minute to go, Huddersfield equalised. The visitors were awarded a free-kick just outside the area. Thomas delivered it from the left to the far post and Sarr powered a close-range header past Roos.
Louie Sibley entered the game six minutes into the second half and immediately made an impact. His first touch, he raced forward on to a through ball, chested down and burst into the box. He cut back for Lawrence, who’s low effort was blocked.
Just minutes later, he was on the right side of two defenders to latch onto a through ball from Kazim-Richards. He edged the Terriers duo slightly in the footrace before rifling an effort from long-range that sailed just over the bar.
With 20 minutes left to play, a good move from the Rams saw them come close again. Festy Ebosele flicked the ball on for Kazim-Richards in the middle of the park who fed out to Forsyth. The full back cut inside and delivered the ball towards the back post looking for Kazim-Richards who couldn’t quite meet it.
Roos was called in to action again with less that ten minutes left to play to make a point-blank stop. Thomas thread a ball across the area to Frazier Campell who controlled the ball to take aim, but the Rams stopper made a brilliant instinctive save with his legs.
Derby applied the pressure in the closing stages to have one final chance in added time.
Isaac Hutchinson made a good run down the right and his blocked ball in fell to Kazim-Richards. The striker crossed the ball in for Sibley to drill an effort on target, but Schofield palmed it away.
The will turn their focus momentarily to the Carabao Cup where they will face Salford City on Tuesday evening.
Derby County: Roos (GK), Byrne, Stearman, Davies, Forsyth; Shinnie, Bird; Jozwiak (Ebosele, 68), Lawrence (C) (Hutchinson, 90), Watson (Sibley, 52), Kazim-Richards.
Substitutes: Allsop (GK), Williams, Thompson, Cashin.
Huddersfield Town: Schofield (GK), Pearson, Hogg (C), Rhodes (Campbell, 64), High, Thomas, Holmes (Sinani, 90), Turton, Sarr, Ward (Koroma, 64), Colwill.
Substitutes: Roxburgh (GK), Vallejo, Brown, Jackson.