Marcus Olsson was the unlikely derby day hero as he struck 10 minutes from time to secure Derby County a 1-0 victory over their bitter rivals Nottingham Forest.
In a largely tame A52 showdown the full back swept a low right foot shot beyond Dorus de Vries in a game of few opportunities.
The win, Derby’s third successive on home soil, ensured that Darren Wassall’s reclaimed the Brian Clough Trophy and cemented their place in the Sky Bet Championship play-off positions heading into the final international break of the season.
Fiery on the pitch, a cagey and hard fought battle was engulfed in a bowl of jousting between the two sets of passionate supporters as both teams sparred, very rarely daring to an attempt an early blow to derail the other.
Gary Gardner struck such a blow against Hull City earlier in the week and tried his luck this time on 15 minutes, but could only miscue his low shot well wide of Scott Carson’s goal.
Hard work and endeavour from both sides meant the contest lacked any sort of rhythm or quality, with life being made particularly hard for Derby every time they assumed control of the ball to a stage they were almost penned into their own half.
Paul Williams’ side, in short, were on top and looked the more likely to find the break through goal.
Gardner tried his luck again from range, the result this time was his high shot flying over the crossbar, but at the other end, the hosts came within a whisker of opening the scoring as Chris Martin, stretching, just could not connect with Marcus Olsson’s cross into the box.
Derby’s best chance of the first half came with just under 10 minutes remaining as Tom Ince unleashed a vicious drive from range, which flew over de Vries’ crossbar.
The early stages of the second half were far more even as Wassall’s side fought their way back into the meeting in Derbyshire.
Bradley Johnson flashed an early chance narrowly past de Vries’ post, whilst Ince had an effort blocked in the area after a swift counter attack from the hosts.
At the other end, after Jamie Hanson scythed down Ben Osborn, Gardner rose highest to direct the resulting free kick well wide and Osborn saw his own right foot shot crucially blocked on the edge of the box.
On 65 minutes, Ince had the game’s best opportunity to after switching to the left side. After collecting possession, the wideman managed to keep the ball from his nearest challenger, but could only shoot straight into the arms of de Vries at his near post.
Derby were shadowing the contest with Forest looking more jaded and so the goal came with just over 10 minutes remaining… in the unlikeliest of circumstances.
Hanson chipped a ball up to Jeff Hendrick, who was lurking on the edge of the area, who chested the pass into the feet of Martin. The forward, in turn, found Ince, who flicked a pass into the feet of Olsson to sweep a right foot shot into the far corner of the goal.
Williams’ Forest pushed relentlessly for a leveller as the clocked ticked down. George Thorne threw his body in the way of a firm Osborn effort, whilst Ward shot straight into the arms of Carson.
Another crucial block prevented Dexter Blackstock from snatching a late equaliser as Derby County edged out their rivals and sign off the international break with the sweetest of victories under their belts.
Derby County: Carson, Hanson, Keogh (C), Shackell (Buxton, 82), Olsson; Thorne, Hendrick, Bryson; Ince, Johnson (Russell, 64), Martin
Substitutes not used: Grant, Christie, Bent, Butterfield, Weimann
Nottingham Forest: De Vries, Lichaj, Mancienne, Mills (c), Jokic, Mendes (Blackstock, 84), Cohen (Ward, 64), Gardner, Vaughan, Osborn, Macheda (O. Burke, 70)
Substitutes not used: Evtimov, Wilson, Fox, Tesche
Attendance: 33,010 (3,095 Nottingham Forest supporters)Tweets by @ dcfcofficial