Last Updated: Sat, 19 Jan 2013 15:17
Jamie Ward marked his long-awaited return to the Derby starting line-up with the equalising goal in a 1-1 draw against east midlands rivals Nottingham Forest.
Ward had been struggling with a hamstring injury since limping off in the reverse fixture against Forest at the City Ground on September 30.
After a couple of substitute appearances and a run-out for the reserves, the diminutive forward was named in Nigel Clough's XI for the derby and netted his sixth goal of the season early in the second half to earn Derby a point. Chris Cohen had put Forest in front just after the half hour mark.
Derby, cheered on by the majority of a full house at Pride Park, started brightly. Craig Bryson, also back in the side, narrowly missed the target with a 20-yard effort before Ward went close with a free-kick.
Forest weathered the early storm and settled into the game, with Simon Cox striking the crossbar with a shot from the edge of the area after 14 minutes and Gonzalo Jara Reyes going close shortly afterwards.
But the Rams were soon in the ascendancy again, piling on the pressure but without actually testing young goalkeeper Karl Darlow.
It was against the run of play when Forest went ahead in the 31st minute. After good build-up play from Radoslaw Majewski and Billy Sharp, the ball fell to Cohen at the far post. He needed two bites of the cherry, scuffing his first effort, but guided a shot past Adam Legzdins from 10 yards out.
Ward brought the hosts level after 52 minutes. Simon Gillett turned into trouble in the middle of the park and was tackled by Conor Sammon, who slid a pass through to his strike partner to finish neatly underneath Darlow.
Forest boss Alex McLeish brought on Dexter Blackstock for Majewski just after the hour mark and went with three up front in an attempt to win the game and the tactical switch caused Derby problems as Forest finished strongly. Cox and Cohen went close with long-range efforts either side of the midway point of the second half and Sharp saw a couple of efforts go narrowly wide inside the final 10 minutes.
But the Rams, who had won the last three matches against their east midlands rivals, held on for a point and Forest will feel they missed an opportunity to move within touching distance of the teams in the play-off places ahead of the 3pm kick-offs.
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