Colin Kazim-Richards struck a thunderous volley to earn Derby County a point in the 108th East Midlands derby, denying Nottingham Forest a third-straight win in the Championship.
Having almost given away a penalty when Yuri Ribeiro looked to have handled a shot from Kamil Jozwiak, Forest went ahead against the run of play through James Garner’s first senior goal, volleyed past David Marshall, but failed to build on that despite a string of chances.
Anthony Knockaert was at the heart of their creative play, but his header went wide and another from Garner was straight at replacement keeper Kelle Roos.
While it was still 1-0, Derby always had a chance and so it proved when, with the Rams increasing the pressure on Forest, Kazim-Richards brought the ball down, recovered a ricochet off Forest defender Tobias Figueiredo and volleyed past Brice Samba.
Rams substitute Lee Gregory might have snatched all three points late on but dragged an effort wide, meaning Derby boss Wayne Rooney had to settle for a draw in his first derby in charge.
With both sides on an upward trajectory, this draw represents a satisfactory result for both sides in their bid to climb the table away from the relegation places – and maintains Forest’s hold on the Brian Clough Trophy, which both sides play for in tribute to their legendary former boss.
The only thing lacking was the atmospheric kick-start a typical derby crowd would have produced at times when both sides appeared passive and sluggish.
Derby, who came into the game with six wins in their previous eight matches, have made themselves harder to beat and better going forward under England’s record goalscorer Rooney, particularly since the arrival of Kazim-Richards, who now has seven goals to his name since the start of December.
However, they failed to take their chances in a bright opening half an hour, and then spent large parts of the game on the back foot on home turf.
Lee Gregory and Patrick Roberts gave their attacking thrust a lift late on, relieving the pressure on Kazim-Richards, who had toiled alone before that point.
Forest’s dominance during their best spells failed to yield goals, but there were positives such as the combination of Knockaert and full-back Cyrus Christie, who linked up well down the right as creative outlets.
They are now also unbeaten in eight successive derbies against the Rams.
Derby County boss Wayne Rooney told BBC Radio Derby:
“I’m pleased to come away with a point in the end. Up until we conceded we were the better team, we caused Forest problems and they didn’t know how to press us with our build-up.
“I felt the longer that went on the more chances we would have created, but then we conceded a really sloppy goal, which [David] Marshall knows he has to do better with.
“Second half, we lost possession too many times, we were second to the second balls and got lucky in the end to come away with a point.
“I spoke to the players at half-time to keep them calm and told them that we could still win the game, and what happens second half is not good enough from us.
“There wasn’t enough intensity, we made silly mistakes, goalkeepers couldn’t kick the ball where it was meant to go and it was a build-up of things that were happening through the second half.”
Nottingham Forest boss Chris Hughton told BBC Radio Nottingham:
“The first half they edged on possession but never created too much. They weren’t that big a threat, even though they had possession.
“When the game opened up in the second [half], we had the better possession and got into better areas to be creative.
“That’s the disappointment, the goal they scored can happen, it’s a fabulous strike and it’s a great finish, but by that stage we needed to be further ahead.
“In the areas we were better, breaking through into the final third, we needed to be more clinical and come up with the final ball.”
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