Derby County were forced to settle for a point as they were held to a 1-1 draw by Nottingham Forest in the first East Midlands Derby of the season at Pride Park Stadium.
The Rams had started the game brightly as Tom Lawrence, returning from a groin injury, gave Wayne Rooney’s side the lead on 11 minutes.
He raced on to a long Craig Forsyth ball and finished confidently into the corner to put the Rams in the ascendancy.
And they had chances to go further ahead as Lawrence, Kamil Jozwiak and substitute Jack Stretton went close.
However, despite a valiant performance from the Rams, they had to settle for a point as Brennan Johnson equalised with only ten minutes of the game remaining to ensure the points were shared at Pride Park.
Manager Wayne Rooney made one change to the Rams’ starting line up from the goalless draw against Middlesbrough in the Sky Bet Championship as skipper Lawrence returned to the squad after recovering from a groin injury.
And he couldn’t have capped his return to the starting 11 better as he gave the Rams the lead on 11 minutes.
Before that, though, Derby had to be wary as Forest went close on two occasions. Firstly, Philip Zinckernagel’s deflected shot went wide of the post, whilst a loose back pass was picked up by Lyle Taylor but he rolled the ball into the arms of Kelle Roos from 40 yards.
However, the Rams, who had themselves started brightly without creating an opportunity, would be rewarded from their first attack as they took the lead.
After winning the ball back on the edge of their own box, Derby broke quickly as Kamil Jozwiak held the ball up for Louie Sibley to take on. He found Craig Forsyth who whipped a long ball forward for Lawrence to chase on to.
He forward, with defenders chasing his tale, took one touch with his chest before unleashing an unstoppable volley into the corner past Nottingham Forest goalkeeper Brice Samba to give the Rams the early lead.
The atmosphere inside Pride Park Stadium, although already loud, notched up another gear following the goal.
Lawrence had an opportunity to double his own tally for the afternoon soon after but saw his free kick blocked by the wall, whilst at the other end, a tame header by Taylor was the closest Forest came to scoring in the first half.
The Rams were playing some neat football, with Lawrence and Morrison in particularly showing some neat touches around the box, whilst both Graeme Shinnie and Max Bird dominated the midfield area.
And the Rams almost doubled their lead on the half hour mark as Lawrence forced a strong save from Samba in the Forest goal. He received the ball on the edge of the box and struck but Samba parried, the ball fell to Forsyth who was following up but he saw his effort blocked.
As the half continued, tempers started to flare as James Garner was booked for Forest, whilst Jozwiak went into the book for a challenge on Joe Worrall.
The Rams, however, did have two shouts for a penalty as Sibley appeared to be fouled by Worrall in the penalty box, whilst the defender was fortunate to get away with a handball shout which appeared to hit him in the area, but it was Derby who went into the break ahead.
Forest came out with an added confidence at the start of the second half as they applied more pressure to the Rams and came out fighting.
However, that did leave them slightly exposed at the back as Derby almost profited on the counter attack. Jozwiak broke forward from a Forest corner and was allowed to advance forward. He picked out Lawrence who patiently waited for a striking opportunity before unleashing a strong effort which was saved by Samba.
At the other end a minute later, Forest had their best opportunity of the encounter so far as Brennan Johnson broke free, but under pressure from Curtis Davies, he fired wide of Roos’ goal.
Forest had their spell on top but without really troubling the Rams. And it would be Derby who continued to press for the second goal, which was despite being down to ten men following an injury to Lawrence.
Just after the hour mark, Shinnie won the ball back on the touchline and found Morrison who curled towards the top corner but Samba was equal to his effort.
As time ticked on, Derby started to regain control of the game and went close twice with 15 minutes of game remaining.
After Jozwiak fired inches wide from the edge of box, substitute Jack Stretton almost doubled Derby’s lead as he met Sibley’s cross but his effort from the centre of the goal was deflected wide.
Derby would rue that missed chance as Nottingham Forest managed to rescue an equaliser with only ten minutes of the game remaining.
There was a warning sign as Lewis Grabban’s neat flick was well saved by Roos down to his left, whilst he could do nothing to prevent Forest from equalising.
A set piece was not dealt with by the Derby defence and the ball fell to Johnson at the back post who volleyed past Roos and into the goal.
However, Derby didn’t let that goal affect them as they went in search of a winning goal. The Rams put pressure on their visitors and created a host of corners in the final minutes but could not make the breakthrough.
Davies felt he had a good shout for a penalty in the final minute of additional time but the referee was unmoved as both sides were forced to settle for a point.
Derby County: Roos, Byrne, Jagielka, Davies, Forsyth, Shinnie, Bird, Jozwiak (Buchanan 80’), Morrison, Lawrence © (Stretton 67’), Sibley.
Substitutes: Allsop, Williams, Stearman, McDonald, Watson.
Nottingham Forest: Samba, Worrall ©, Carvalho (Mighten 46’), Zinckernagel, Bong, Johnson, Yates (Grabban 69’), McKenna, Lawrence-Gabriel, Taylor, Garner.
Substitutes: Horvath, Figueiredo, Colback, Lowe, Cafu.