Phillip Cocu was quick to praise Derby County’s strong mentality and character after his side left it late to earn a point in their 1-1 draw against East Midlands rivals Nottingham Forest on Saturday afternoon.
Striker Chris Martin bundled home an equaliser for Cocu’s side in the seventh minute of added on time from close range.
Martin’s goal, his 11th of the season, came moments after substitute Martyn Waghorn was sent off for a high challenge on Forest’s Ryan Yates.
Joe Lolley's early long-range strike looked to have been enough for Forest, but Martin had the final word with seconds remaining as the Rams made it six games unbeaten in the Sky Bet Championship.
Cocu felt his side, who went into the match off the back of five successive league wins, deserved their point for the way they stayed in the game.
He was also pleased with the mentality of his players to keep pushing, a trait that has been seen and rewarded on several occasions during the campaign.
“It was a hectic situation and we had to go all the way to the end but it’s great to see Chris Martin got the touch and the goal,” Cocu told RamsTV.
“I think we deserved the point. I always say to the players to stay in the game and push until the last second. I always want my team to have this mentality and character.
“We have got a few equalisers and a few late winners, so it confirms that you have to keep believing in scoring a goal in the dying seconds of the game. It was an important draw today and now we have to see what kind of result we can get on Wednesday at West Bromwich Albion.”
He added: “If it is a positive result then this point can be very important.”
Cocu admitted he was not happy with Derby’s start to the game against their local rivals.
Derby struggled to get going early on and fellow behind to Lolley’s long-distance effort after just 12 minutes.
However, the Rams’ boss was pleased with the reaction he saw to put that early disappointment aside.
He said: “We did not play well in the first 15 minutes and that was disappointing. We have respect for the opponent, but we are in a good place and confident so it should not matter who we play. We were sloppy, slow and not aggressive when we had the ball.
“If you see how we conceded, it was too easy. We knew after that it would be a tough game, because of Forest’s organisation, and it was.
“We did improve after that first 15 minutes. It was hard to create opportunities and they were close in the second half on two occasions on the counterattack when we had to open up more to try and create a chance for ourselves.
“In that time, we are lucky they didn’t score the second one, but if you look at the overall game, I think we deserved a point.”
Cocu, already without forward Tom Lawrence due to suspension, will now miss a key player in Waghorn for three matches as a result of his late dismissal against the Reds.
With striker Jack Marriott also out injured, the Dutchman is disappointed to be without the Rams’ leading goalscorer in the short-term.
“I’m disappointed,” he said on the fact Waghorn will miss the side’s next three games.
“I know it’s frustrating when the opponent tries to kill the game, win time and the referee is allowing it quite a bit. It can be frustrating, but you have to keep your emotions under control.
“We just had an example with Tom Lawrence against Reading, so I can’t have another striker be sent off and missing for a few games because you let the team down.
“Martyn apologised to the team and I have respect for it. I would rather have someone apologise and confess he did something stupid. We don’t have big numbers in the squad at the moment, so it makes the challenge much bigger.”