Gary Rowett praised the effort and defensive resilience of his Derby County side after they drew 1-1 with Aston Villa at Villa Park in the Sky Bet Championship.
The Rams led for the majority of the contest thanks to Cameron Jerome’s third goal in the space of five days, but Lewis Grabban popped up with six minutes to play to level.
Rowett felt that the immense effort that his team put in against Cardiff City on Tuesday caught up with them in the second-half in the West Midlands, but he was proud of the performance.
He told RamsTV: “We defended really, really well, but if I could have brought on six substitutions, I think we would have been okay.
“It was difficult one today, but to take a point, we have to accept that we were fortunate but in some ways, we fully deserved it.
“You could see that very early on because Cardiff is probably the most physical performance that we have produced all season.
“It was going to be difficult for us to recreate that, I did think about making changes but we played that well that I wondered if we could go again.
“Physically we couldn’t, but mentally, when they were under pressure, the back-five defended fantastically well.”
Jerome’s strike means that he has now scored more goals in his last two games than he did in his previous 30 in the league this season.
With Nugent also having scored in each of his last two starts, Rowett believes that two of his key men have hit form at a crucial moment.
He said: “We couldn’t string enough passes together in the second-half and when we did in the first, we got into some great positions.
“Once we got our two wider forwards into those pockets of space, Cameron came alive.
“We took the goal really well, it was excellent play by Andi and a great finish by Cameron, but we ran out of steam.
“Both of our strikers are coming into form at the right time – Nuge has scored two in two, and now Cammy has three in two.
“We had some good moments and there were a couple of moments where we should have done better.”
Derby will go into the final game of the season against Barnsley knowing that a win will be enough to take them into the play-offs, and the boss is pleased that his side are in control of their own destiny.
“We can’t complain, the effort was magnificent and the fans were magnificent too.
“Once again, it’s in our hands.”