Louie Sibley chose the perfect moment to net his first league goal of the season for Derby County as he fired home in second half added on time to secure the Rams all three points on an ill-tempered afternoon at Pride Park Stadium.
The Rams’ Academy graduate, who came on as a second half substitute, struck from 20 yards into the bottom corner to ensure a valuable three points for Wayne Rooney’s side.
For 90 minutes, it was proving to be a frustrating afternoon as both sides were reduced to 10-men.
Posh’s Hayden Coulson was twice yellow-carded in the space of four minutes in the first half, whilst at the start of the second half, Rams skipper Tom Lawrence was dismissed for a bad challenge on Peterborough’s Nathan Thompson.
But, the Rams showed their fighting spirit as they continued right to the death and were rewarded with the winning goal in the 90th minute of the game to ensure Derby leapfrogged Peterborough in the table.
Manager Wayne Rooney made two changes to his side as Eiran Cashin was handed his full debut, whilst Festy Ebosele shook off a hamstring injury which prevented him to just 45 minutes last weekend against Middlesbrough.
Derby started the game well, despite testing conditions at times, playing at a high tempo which was well received by supporters who had turned out in their numbers with more than 30,000 in attendance.
And they were almost treated to the opening goal of the game on 11 minutes as Lawrence was thwarted at the front post.
Ebosele used his pace to good effect as he found the skipper whose touch took him away from two men. He blasted towards goal but Posh goalkeeper Steven Benda made a smart stop.
The Rams kept the pressure up as Cashin was denied on the goal line by a header, whilst at the other end, Reece Brown struck well wide as Posh struggled to gain a foothold in the game.
Ebosele was proving a handful on the right-hand side as on the half hour mark, he broke from deep and advanced forward. He played a one-two with Jason Knight before seeing his shot blocked.
However, two bookings in quick succession for Coulson saw Posh reduced to ten-men. His first was for a tackle, as the referee allowed play to continue before booking the full back, whilst his second came four minutes later as he brought down Ebosele and the referee reached for his back pocket to produce the red card.
The Rams looked to capitalise immediately as the resulting free kick found Max Bird on the edge of the box but his volley was well saved by Benda, whilst before half time, Krystian Bielik’s header went into the palms of the goalkeeper.
However, Derby were rocked at the start of the second half as Lawrence received his marching orders for a dangerous tackle on Posh defender Nathan Thompson.
The Rams needed to regroup and after a tricky five minutes, they established their foothold back in the game.
Bird shouted loudly for a penalty as he felt the ball struck the arm of Frankie Kent in the Posh defence as he fired towards goal, but the referee waved away the protests, whilst a minute later came a hugely controversial moment.
Bird received the ball on the edge of the box and was confronted by Posh forward Brown who recklessly went over the top of the ball, but the referee only produced a yellow card.
That only fuelled the fire as the Rams continued to go in search of the opening goal.
Forsyth fired over at the back post following good work from Ebosele, whilst he turned provider for Nathan Byrne on 65 minutes as the right back’s header looked destined for the bottom corner but fell the wrong side of the post.
Derby continued to rally and were presented with another opportunity from a free kick, but Bird curled over the crossbar.
The introduction of Sibley in place of Forsyth showed Rooney’s side were going for the victory and the Academy graduate certainly added an injection of pace to Derby’s attack.
He twice found himself close to opening the scoring as he shot wide from Knight’s cross, whilst a minute later, the midfielder again attacked the byline and crossed. Sibley helped the ball on and Luke Plange’s effort hit the post and agonisingly rolled on the goal line but the whole of the ball did not cross the line.
Sibley was playing a key role and from a counter attack, he was cynically fouled by Thompson who received a booking. Bielik’s resulting free kick was blocked by the Posh wall.
It just didn’t look like it was going Derby’s way as they continued to battle, but they were finally rewarded in second half stoppage time as Sibley grabbed his first goal of the season.
The midfielder received the ball on the edge of the box, and with little options available, he fired towards goal and found the back of the net to seal a valuable three points for the Rams in their quest to stay in the Sky Bet Championship.
Derby County: Allsop, Byrne, Forsyth (Sibley 70’), Bielik (Morrison 83’), Bird, Lawrence (C), Davies, Ebosele, Knight (Cybulski 90’), Cashin, Plange.
Substitutes: Roos, Ebiowei, Stretton, Thompson.
Peterborough United: Benda, Thompson, Brown, Knight, Marriott (Jones 60’), Norburn (C), Morton (Mumba 38’), Ward, Fuchs (Clarke-Harris 51’), Coulson.
Substitutes: Cornell, Edwards, Grant, Poku.
Attendance: 30,251 (1,781 visiting supporters)