Nine-man Derby County Under-21s were cruelly denied a hard-fought point, with a stoppage-time Nottingham Forest goal settling the East Midlands Derby in Premier League 2 on Monday night.
Jake Buxton's side played almost the entirety of the second half a man light, following Keilen Robinson's red card for pulling down Ben Perry just outside the box with no other defenders covering.
Adebayo Fapetu was shown his second yellow card deep into stoppage time and, just a minute later, Kyle McAdam slotted home to earn Forest all three points.
The sides traded chances immediately, with McAdam testing Jack Thompson and Jamie McDonnell heading over for Forest, whilst Tony Weston saw a deflected effort held by George Shelvey at the other end.
It wasn't until the 21st minute that the next opening came, though, with the teams cancelling each other out.
A sloppy pass from Joe Ward put Darren Robinson in trouble and left Esapa Osong bearing down on goal. A strong challenge from Ryan Bartley took the ball away from him but it broke for Joe Gardner to strike from the edge of the box, but the post came to Derby's rescue.
Thompson was called into action moments later when Osong's powerful run led to the ball breaking for McAdam, whose near-post effort was turned behind by the keeper.
Chances continued to be hard to come by throughout the first period, which ended goalless.
Just after the restart, Keilen Robinson was sent off for a pull on Forest's Perry, who looked to have received the ball in an offside position, leaving the young Rams with an uphill task. Osong fired narrowly over from the resultant free-kick.
McAdam became the second visiting player to hit the frame, when he powerfully struck after Ben Hammond's cross found him beyond the back post on 55 minutes.
Osong might have fancied he'd find the opener just before the hour, when Gardner's through ball put him in one-on-one with Thompson, but the goalkeeper made himself big and pulled off an excellent save to keep the game goalless.
Derby looked to have weathered the storm following the red card and showed their threat when Lennon Wheeldon received the ball in space before shooting from 20 yards out. Substitute keeper Harry Griffiths was equal to his effort, though.
Thompson added to his string of fine stops when he showed great reactions to keep out Julian Larsson's inventive flick from fellow substitute Jack Nadin's cross.
Derby were mere inches away from netting a late winner, when Ward's deep free-kick was met by Max Bardell ahead of the outrushing Griffiths. His header looked certain to nestle in the back of the net but Justin Hanks got back brilliantly to clear from his own goal line, getting caught in the netting in the process.
Both sides pushed for the winner inside eight additional minutes, during which a nasty-looking challenge on Fapetu went unpunished. After he received treatment and returned to the field he was booked for dissent, adding to his yellow card earlier in the second half and earning him an early bath.
It went from bad to worse for Buxton's side when a neat passing move from the visitors worked the ball to McAdam in the box and he finally found a way past Thompson in the Derby goal.
It was a cruel blow for the young Rams, who will feel they deserved a share of the points after a spirited showing.
Derby County Under-21s return to action on Tuesday 6th February, when they travel to Buxton FC in the Derbyshire Senior Cup (kick-off 7.45pm).
Derby County Under-21s: Thompson, Ward, Bartley, K Robinson, Moloney (Bardell 61'), D Robinson, Hawkins, Nto (Gibson-Hammond 68'), Fapetu, Weston (Perry 74'), Wheeldon.
Subs not used: Shattell (GK), McAndrew.
Nottingham Forest Under-21s: Shelvey (Griffiths 46'), Hammond (Newton 61'), Hanks, Thompson, McAdam, Abbott, McDonnell (C), Perkins, Perry (Nadin 72'), Gardner (Larsson 69'), Asong (Norkett 69').