REPORT: Derby County 1-1 Sheffield Wednesday - Late rally not enough as Rams are held
Derby County had to make do with a share of the spoils from a lively encounter with Sheffield Wednesday on Saturday.
Despite leading through Bradley Johnson's early header, the hosts couldn't add to their advantage and Dominic Iorfa's second-half header brought the visitors level.
The Rams didn't then look like winning the game until the last ten minutes when several good chances went astray, the Owls hanging on to remain unbeaten under new boss Steve Bruce.
Indeed, the late rally was too little late from the Rams as had they produced such intensity earlier in the game and for longer then they could well have taken three points, although Wednesday keeper Kieren Westwood deserved credit for a string of fine stops in the closing stages to deny the home side.
Overall, the continued response to the horror show at Aston Villa seven days ago has been a positive one and four points from the two games since has put Derby back in the play-off zone, somewhere they'll now be keen to remain.
The first real chance came Wednesday's way eight minutes in when Steven Fletcher found Adam Reach in the penalty area but from a narrow angle he chipped across the face of goal and nobody was on hand to turn the ball home.
And a minute later they were behind.
Derby won a corner down the left which when floated into the penalty area by Duane Holmes, flicked off the defending Reach's head at the near post and Johnson arrived at the back to loop a header over everyone and into the corner of the net.
Wednesday responded when Johnson then gave the ball away 25 yards out and George Boyd fired in an effort which Scott Carson had to push over the bar.
Martyn Waghorn could have made it 2-0 but fluffed his lines when given the ball in space 12 yards out, his control letting him down and keeper Westwood able to gather.
Johnson, seemingly intent on helping to cancel out his own opener, then gifted another chance to the visitors when he this time gave possession straight to Fletcher but the Scot's half volley from just outside the penalty area was a good height for Carson who pushed the ball away to safety.
The Rams then lost Mason Bennett to injury ten minutes before the break, Harry Wilson soon curling wide of the post after the Owls had only partially cleared a Holmes corner. It was to be one of few bright moments from Wilson who was largely ineffective.
Wednesday were still plugging away and Barry Bannan's cross found Fletcher six yards out but, under pressure from Richard Keogh, his effort on the volley went high over the bar and half-time arrived with the Rams ahead.
But that changed 12 minutes into the second-half. A soft foul given away by Holmes out on the left led to Bannan swinging a fine delivery to the back post where defender Iorfa was able to ghost in and head home from a few yards out.
Scott Malone then volleyed an effort against the woodwork at the other end as Derby responded well, his dipping shot from 25 yards beating Westwood but not the far post.
Reach had a crack from a similar distance but was well wide on 66 minutes, while at the other end Jayden Bogle was also wide of the target from just outside the penalty area.
Wednesday were then left unhappy with referee Keith Stroud after he disallowed a Sam Winnall goal 11 minutes from time, the ball having been kicked out of Carson's hands and into the goal as he gathered it on the ground following some lax Derby defending.
A fine Rams attack then nearly had them in front as a swift one touch move ended with Bogle breaking into the penalty area and his low shot being pushed over by Westwood.
Johnson's deflected effort from distance three minutes from time dropped just wide as the Rams ended the game strongly, sub Jack Marriott's volley then parried by Westwood and gathered at the second attempt.
Westwood was again called into action in stoppage time as Holmes cut in and curled an effort which the keeper pushed past the post, before he then gathered Florian Jozefzoon's shot that was straight at him not long before the final whistle blew.
Derby: Carson, Tomori, Keogh (c), Wilson (Nugent 72), Waghorn (Marriott 68), Johnson, Bennett (Jozefzoon 35), Holmes, Bogle, Huddlestone, Malone
Subs not used: Roos (GK), Wisdom, Cole, Bird
Sheff Wed: Westwood, Palmer, Fletcher (Nuhiu 52), Bannan, Lees (c), Reach, Boyd (Winnall 63), Hutchinson, Iorfa, Hector, Aarons (Fox 90+3)
Subs not used: Dawson, Pelupessy, Thorniley, Matias
Ref: Keith Stroud
Star Ram: Jayden Bogle
Derby - Johnson 10
Sheff Wed - Iorfa 57