Nottingham Forest and Derby County shared the points in the East Midlands derby after a well-contested 1-1 draw at the City Ground.
Martyn Waghorn gave the Rams the lead in the first-half on his return to the Derby team with a fantastic free-kick, but the Reds replied after the break courtesy of striker Lyle Taylor’s first goal for the club.
The result extends Forest’s unbeaten run against their bitter rivals to seven matches, and Chris Hughton is still yet to be defeated as Reds boss.
On the other hand, Derby should be relatively satisfied to have collected a point from the game, which lifts them out of the relegation zone.
Story of the match
Forest looked fairly lively in the early stages of the game, and had a decent chance to open the scoring after just three minutes. Former Derby full-back Cyrus Christie found space on the right flank and cut the ball back for Lyle Taylor, whose shot was tipped wide by Rams goalkeeper David Marshall.
A lot of the Reds’ forward play involved Sammy Ameobi, who forced Marshall into another save after cutting inside and shooting at goal with his right foot. Then, in the 26th minute, the Newcastle-born winger’s cross from the left was glanced wide of the post by Ryan Yates.
Derby grew into the contest as the half progressed and forced Forest keeper Brice Samba into a decent save moments after Yates’ missed header. Central midfielder Graham Shinnie picked the ball up around 25 yards from goal and sent a curling effort towards the top corner, but Samba got across well to tip it wide.
On the half-hour mark, Waghorn put the Rams in front with a brilliantly-struck free-kick from 30 yards out. The former Ipswich Town man’s shot found the net via the crossbar, and evaded Samba after he had taken a step in the wrong direction when the referee’s whistle was blown.
Shinnie had an excellent chance to double Derby’s advantage before the break when Nathan Byrne found him in space in the area, but his low effort was well held by Samba.
Reds boss Hughton introduced Anthony Knockaert from the bench at the interval to try and pull his side back into the match. The half’s early exchanges were cagey but after the hour mark, the substitute started to turn the screw.
In the 63rd minute, Ameobi connected with Knockaert’s whipped cross from the right at the back post, but the ball was diverted wide. From the resulting corner (which was swung in nicely by Knockaert), the ball bounced off the head of Yates after Derby’s Matt Clarke tried to clear it, and Taylor pounced in the six-yard box to fire it through the legs of Marshall and into the net.
The goal was Taylor’s first for Forest, and six minutes later he went close to grabbing a second as he got his head to Nicholas Ioannou’s cross, but the ball missed the target.
Despite being on the back foot for the majority of the second period, Derby thought they had retaken the lead with 13 minutes to spare when Kamil Jozwiak slid the ball into the bottom corner from just inside the box. However, the Polish international’s strike was ruled out by the linesman, as Waghorn was standing in the goalkeeper’s eyeline whilst in an offside position.
In the final stages of the game, Derby pushed for a winner, with Lee Buchanan firing wide from long range, but Hughton’s side stood firm to hold out for a point.
Knockaert will flourish for Forest
As Chris Hughton was appointed as Forest manager with only a few days of the transfer window remaining, he only had time to bring one player through the door, with Knockaert joining on loan from Fulham.
He made his Reds debut from the bench against Derby, and showed clear signs of the quality he possesses. The Frenchman has had success with Hughton in the past, so if he is utilised properly across the season, he should prove to be a key asset for Forest.
Rams should keep faith in Cocu, for now
A lot of speculation has surrounded Cocu’s position as Derby manager in recent weeks following the Rams’ poor start to the season, but chairman Mel Morris has so far kept faith in the Dutchman.
Against their close rivals, Cocu’s side produced one of their strongest performances of the campaign to earn a draw, and could have quite easily won the match on another day. Derby have leaked goals in previous weeks, but they limited Forest to a small number of clear-cut opportunities.
Three of the Rams’ next four matches are to be played on home turf, and on the basis of their performance at the City Ground, Cocu should be given the chance to collect more points.
Man of the Match: Martyn Waghorn (Derby County)
Derby have been seriously lacking an out-and-out striker since Chris Martin left the club in the summer, and it is no surprise that they have struggled to collect many points as a result.
Waghorn has played in different offensive roles for the Rams in the past, but against Forest he was used in a central position where he flourished. Making his first start of the campaign, he led the line well and showed his quality with a brilliant free-kick to open the scoring.