14 September 2014 16:31
A late equaliser for Derby County ensured they earned a point from a 1-1 draw with Championship leaders and fierce rivals Nottingham Forest.
Trailing to Britt Assombalonga’s well-taken strike, the visitors forced a leveller with a scrappy effort 10 minutes from time at the City Ground on Sunday.
After Richard Keogh’s initial header had struck the crossbar, Ryan Shotton’s rebound was clawed back from close to behind the line by Karl Darlow, before Leon Best forced the ball home to make sure.
Derby then saw defender Jake Buxton sent off for a second caution three minutes before the end, but Steve McLaren’s men were able to hold on and secure a point.
The last time these two sides met Derby trounced their neighbours 5-0 at Pride Park, and it looked as though Forest would gain a measure of revenge for that humiliation when Assombalonga struck, but it was not to be as the away side earned a share of the spoils.
The first half was typical of a derby, with neither side willing to give the other an inch, and goalmouth action was scarce.
Forest’s plans received a blow when captain Chris Cohen was forced off injured after quarter of an hour, while they also saw influential playmaker Andy Reid depart shortly before the break with what looked like a groin injury.
Craig Bryson had earlier curled a 25-yard free-kick straight at Darlow, while Cohen’s replacement Robert Tesche fizzed an effort narrowly off target from distance in first-half stoppage time.
Michail Antonio almost wrong-footed Lee Grant in the Derby goal when his effort in the 61st minute took a deflection, but the goalkeeper reacted smartly and got down low to his right to keep out the shot.
Following a lengthy break in play as stewards grappled with a couple of fans on the field, Assombalonga made the breakthrough in the 72nd minute.
Receiving a pass from Antonio with his back to goal, the striker turned sharply and fired low beyond Grant into the bottom left-hand corner for his fifth league goal of the season.
Antonio ought to have doubled the lead three minutes later, but his header from Jack Hunt’s cross was way off target.
That miss proved crucial as Best bundled the ball home late on, before Derby were forced to survive eight minutes of stoppage time after Buxton was dismissed following a scything challenge on Chris Burke.