Derby County were dealt a late blow in their bid to return to winning ways as Bristol City struck in the 94th minute to rescue a point at Ashton Gate.
Ikechi Anya scored his first goal for the Rams on the cusp of half time after taking advantage some sloppy defending for the visitors, but the second half was one of frustration from the visitors.
James Wilson, Matěj Vydra and Darren Bent all had good opportunities to add to the scoreline, but after not taking them they were dealt the harshest punishment as the Robins made their late pressure count to nick a draw as Aaron Wilbraham converted a left wing cross from close range.
Prior to this meeting Lee Johnson, the Bristol City manager, predicted an end to end and exciting affair.
The early signs suggested that too, although the fact that chances were sporadic boiled down to the fact that both defences were winning their early battles.
Derby registered the first shot of the contest as Vydra, smartly, turned away from his nearest challenger before lashing an effort over the top of Frank Fielding’s crossbar.
The best chances of the half continued to fall Derby’s way. England Under 21s midfielder, Hughes, should have broken the deadlock when Anya put in a perfect cross from the left, but he could only direct his header wide from close range.
Wilson tried something a little bit more ambitious soon after, thrashing at a delightful pass from Jacob Butterfield, but Fielding, outstretched, covered his near post and watched the Manchester United loanee’s drive hit the side-netting.
The hosts worked their way back into the contest after that as the contest evened out for the remainder of the first half.
Tammy Abraham, who already had eight goals to his name since arriving on a season long loan from Chelsea, scuffed a shot into the arms of the relatively quiet Scott Carson, whilst Bobby Reid sent a cross shot agonisingly past the far post from another good position.
The half appeared to be petering out for a goalless draw, but a slip in concentration allowed Derby to get their noses in front.
From Carson’s long kick up field, the Robins’ defence was caught napping and Anya raced through with just Fielding to beat. With time, the 28-year-old wideman beat the goalkeeper to ball and smartly lobbed it towards goal, applying enough pace for it to beat the back pedalling Joel Ekstrand and nestle into the back of the net.
Andy Woolmer’s half time whistle sounded soon after, with the second half bringing a similar story to what the first had offered as the Rams created the better openings.
Reid signalled some early intent as he fired a shot over the crossbar, before a sending another wide again.
Normal service resumed so far. The Rams’ best efforts over the second 45 minutes came on the break as they attempted to utilise a forward line brimming with pace, but Fielding, who was restored to the starting line-up ahead of this fixture against his former club, was in tip top to deny Derby from adding to the scoreline.
Wilson caught City backline off guard after 54 minutes, but could not beat Fielding with a cross shot, whilst Vydra flicked a routine Butterfield free kick wide at the near post.
There were other chances too for the visitors before the pressure was really cranked up a notch at Ashton Gate.
Craig Bryson shot wide from 18-yards after Vydra, cleverly, knocked the ball into his path, whilst Darren Bent, the substitute, was denied by Fielding from close range.
From there, it was a real back to the wall job for the Rams as Johnson’s side threw everything at Pearson’s men in a bid to rescue a point from the clash.
Lee Tomlin, the former Middlesbrough man, cracked the crossbar, but that aside the Rams’ resilient backline dealt with all the high balls that were pumped in their direction.
With five minutes shown and with the pressure firmly on Carson’s goal, the visitors cracked as Wilbraham stepped off the substitutes bench to rescue an equaliser for the hosts with a close range finish – a real sickener for Derby right at the very end.
Bristol City: Fielding, Little, Flint, Magnusson, Ekstrand (Freeman, 46), Bryan (Golbourne, 30), Pack (Wilbraham, 71), Reid, Tomlin, Paterson, Abraham
Substitutes not used: O'Donnell, Golbourne, Moore, Brownhill, Engvall
Derby County: Carson, Christie, Keogh (C), Pearce, Olsson; Butterfield (Ince, 76), Bryson, Hughes, Anya (Weimann, 59); Vydra, Wilson (Bent, 59)
Substitutes not used: Mitchell, Baird, Johnson, Blackman
Attendance: 19,451 (1,525 away)