Krystian Bielik, who made his long-awaited return to action following an anterior cruciate ligament injury, was the hero as he rescued a point for Derby County in the fifth minute of additional time as the Rams drew 2-2 with Birmingham City.
In front of a vocal capacity crowd at Pride Park Stadium, the Rams closed the gap on teams around them to seven points as Bielik’s dramatic last gasp leveller secured a point.
Luke Plange had reduced the deficit as Derby trailed heading into the final minutes of the game but Derby once again showed incredible courage to fight back and earn a share of the spoils.
Lyle Taylor had put Birmingham ahead early in the game as he found the bottom corner from close range, whilst Scott Hogan doubled their advantage early in the second half.
But, Plange and Bielik’s acrobatic strike secured a point as the Rams extended their unbeaten home form to four games.
The manager made three changes to his side which faced Nottingham Forest last weekend as Craig Forsyth, Kamil Jozwiak and Plange returned to the starting line-up.
The latter pair combined for Derby’s first chance of the game as Kamil Jozwiak crossed low for Plange who took one touch and then shot but his tame effort was saved by Blues goalkeeper Neil Etheridge.
However, the Rams were on the back foot early on as they fell behind on seven minutes as Lyle Taylor opened the scoring.
Juninho found the forward, who had drifted into space inside the penalty area, and he guided into the corner to give the Blues the lead.
The Blues took control of proceedings as Onel Hernandez saw an effort deflect wide on 12 minutes, whilst three minutes later, Allsop had to be alert as Taylor ghosted in at the back post but his effort was well saved.
Derby did have their moments in the first half. Plange fed Jason Knight who crossed low into the box for Max Bird to hit but his effort skewed wide, whilst with ten minutes of the half remaining, Derby came a whisker away from the equaliser.
Tom Lawrence’s in-swinging free kick from 25 yards was flicked goalwards by Richard Stearman but his effort was saved by Etheridge, whilst Curtis Davies’ resultant overhead kick was deflected wide.
The Rams were forced into a change before half time as Kamil Jozwiak limped off and was replaced by Festy Ebosele.
And Birmingham should have extended their lead before the break as Hogan was set clean through on goal but Allsop stood up to the test well and denied the forward.
But, the visitors would double their lead 10 minutes into the second half. A cross into the box found Hogan and he got the faintest touch on the ball to guide into the corner to double Birmingham’s lead.
And it was almost three on the hour mark as Taylor’s low cross found Hogan once again but this time his effort went wide.
Derby needed a lift but was finding opportunities hard to come by. Ebosele had a shot from 20 yards which brought the fans to their feet as the Rams looked for momentum.
There was a special moment on 70 minutes as midfielder Bielik made his long awaited return from a second Anterior Cruciate Ligament injury as he replaced Liam Thompson.
And that change reignited the Derby supporters as the Rams started to create opportunities of their own.
Knight cut back a cross for Bird to hit but his effort deflected wide, whilst substitute Colin Kazim-Richards went inches from scoring as he volleyed wide from 20 yards. A minute later, Lawrence saw a goal-bound effort blocked in front of the net as the Rams rallied.
The Rams continued to fight and did pull a goal back with two minutes remaining as Plange found the corner to make it a nervy ending.
And with seconds of the game remaining, in an incredible turn of events, Bielik snatched the equaliser in the final minute of the game.
The midfielder acrobatically turned home from inside the area to rescue a point, however, in the celebrations, he appeared to suffer a shoulder injury and missed the incredible scenes which followed on the full time whistle.
Supporters were on their feet as the players showed incredible fight to the end to ensure the points were shared at Pride Park.
Derby County: Allsop, Byrne, Forsyth (Kazim-Richards 57’), Jozwiak (Ebosele 42’), Bird, Lawrence (C), Stearman, Davies, Knight, Thompson (Bielik 69’), Plange.
Substitutes: Roos, Sibley, Buchanan, Ebiowei.
Birmingham City: Etheridge, Colin, Pedersen, Roberts (C), Woods (Sunjic 68’), Hogan, Mengi, Gardner, Bacuna (James 83’), Hernandez, Taylor (Friend 80’).
Substitutes: Trueman, Jutkiewicz, Bela, Graham.
Attendance: 32,211 (3,143 visiting supporters)