Wayne Rooney felt Derby County’s 2-1 defeat at Nottingham Forest was decided by the finest of margins.
Derby went into the final East Midlands derby of the 2021/22 campaign in good form, having won four and drawn one of their previous league outings, and looking for their first success at the home of their rivals since late 2012.
As expected in a keenly contested encounter between the two clubs, chances were limited in the opening 45 minutes and skipper Tom Lawrence dragged the Rams’ best effort wide from inside the box with 16 minutes on the clock.
After a goalless first period, Forest took the lead straight after half-time as Lewis Grabban slotted beyond Ryan Allsop from close range after the ball fell invitingly into his path.
Derby thought they had an equaliser just after the hour as a swift attacking move saw substitute Ravel Morrison get a shot away, but Scott McKenna’s block denied the Jamacia international his second goal in Rams colours.
Brennan Johnson scored Forest’s second on 82 minutes, but the Rams battled to reduce the deficit with two minutes of normal time remaining as skipper Tom Lawrence scored from the penalty spot after he was fouled by Steve Cook.
Morrison saw red in added time for a foul on Philip Zinckernagel as Rooney’s side tasted defeat in the league for the first time in 2022.
Rooney felt the outcome across the East Midlands was decided by the hosts making their key moments in front of goal count at vital times.
Speaking to RamsTV, Rooney said: “I’m disappointed with the result and it’s never nice when you lose a local derby.
“I thought we started well and had good control. Tom Lawrence had a great chance and I think if he had taken that then we would have been in full control.
“They took the moments that they had today and got the two goals and although we got back into it with the late penalty, it wasn’t to be.
“I don’t actually think they caused us many more problems either side of the goals, they just made sure they took their moments and gave us too much to do to get back into it.”
He added: “It’s disappointing today to lose but when you win it is important you don’t get too carried away and when you lose a game, it is important not to panic. We will keep pushing, keep trying to pick up points and see where we finish up.”
On Morrison’s red card and emotions high at the final whistle, Rooney was eager to play down those moments given the magnitude of the occasion.
“It’s an emotional game,” he said. “It happens and especially in a local derby and when there are decisions you don’t feel are going your way.
“Things can boil over. I’m not sure it was a red card for Ravel from where I was stood, but I haven’t seen it back so I might be wrong on that.
“The lads showed they cared. They showed that they are fighting with this club and I’ll support the players and be right with them on that.”
Derby’s next Sky Bet Championship fixture will see them host Birmingham City at Pride Park Stadium on Sunday 30th January (1:30pm kick-off).