Derby County were held to a goalless draw by arch rivals Nottingham Forest in the Championship at Pride Park on Monday evening, in the latest instalment of the East Midlands derby.
It was a game of very few clear cut chances for either side, with both coming away feeling that they could have nicked all three points with a bit more luck on the day.
With both teams seemingly in the race for promotion to the Premier League this season, the fixture carried more significance than it had in recent years. For this reason, it is easy to see why both sides will come away relatively satisfied with a point to build on heading into the crucial festive period.
Forest's makeshift defence stands firm
One of the main concerns heading into this game for Forest boss Aitor Karanka would have been his lack of defensive options due to injuries and suspensions. Both Danny Fox and Michael Dawson had been ruled out of the game through injury, whilst Tobias Figueiredo was set to serve out the final game of his suspension following his sending off against Aston Villa a couple of weeks ago.
This forced Karanka into naming an unfamiliar centre-back partnership of Michael Hefele and Jack Robinson, with Tendayi Darikwa continuing at right-back at Saidy Janko filling in at left-back. Considering Janko is primarily a right-back and has not featured for the Reds in the Championship since the beginning of October, he produced an outstanding performance to help Forest keep their tenth clean sheet of the season.
Karanka was keen to point out that not having the likes of Fox, Dawson and Figueiredo on the pitch, not only meant that Forest's defensive options were weakened, but also meant that they missed big characters on the pitch. Dawson has been Forest' captain throughout the majority of the season and his leadership would have been extremely valuable in this fixture.
But despite naming an arguably makeshift back four, the Reds limited Derby's attacking talent of Harry Wilson, Jack Marriott and Tom Lawrence to very few opportunities, with Wilson's volley in the second-half being the only time Costel Pantilimon was forced into making a notable save.
Lampard unhappy with penalty decision
Derby boss Frank Lampard was left fuming with referee Keith Stroud's failure to award the Rams a penalty in the first-half. Darikwa's high challenge looked to have caught Lawrence inside the area with just under 20 minutes played, but Stroud decided that it was not enough to award a penalty.
Lampard felt that this was a poor decision and prevented his side from having an opportunity to break the deadlock. He told Sky Sports: "The only person who I thought had a bad night was the referee, because he missed a blatant penalty that would have put us in the lead and changed a tight game.
He added: "I defend referees big time because I understand the pace of the game, but that was the most simple penalty you can give and he got it wrong."
Despite Lampard's frustration over Stroud's performance, Forest could also have been left feeling hard done by with Jayden Bogle and Fikayo Tomori both lucky to have escaped a red card following poor challenges. Had either of them been sent off, the Reds could have perhaps pushed even more to win the game in the final exchanges.
What next for both?
Both sides return to Championship action this weekend with winnable home games in the final match day before Christmas. Steve McClaren's Queens Park Rangers travel to the City Ground to take on Forest, whilst Derby face an inconsistent Bristol City side at Pride Park.