A late Stern John strike salvaged a point for Crystal Palace to claim a draw against Derby.
First goal in three years for County scorer
A late strike from Stern John salvaged a point for Crystal Palace against Derby in a nervy bottom-of-the-table encounter.
The Eagles boosted their chances of avoiding the drop after the 33-year-old forward slotted home with five minutes to spare after a host of earlier chances.
County had the early advantage from an unlikely source when Russell Anderson netted his first goal in three years and powered the Rams towards a win which would have made them mathematically safe from the drop.
However after John's late show, Derby now have to rely on a Sheffield Wednesday slip-up in their Steel City derby game tomorrow against United to ensure safety.
With just six minutes gone Derby cancelled out Palace's earlier possession when Rams skipper Robbie Savage delivered an inviting free-kick and centre-back Anderson headed in from close range.
The home side looked dangerous from set-pieces and Shaun Barker almost made it two but saw his header turned away for a corner.
Former Blackburn Rovers full-back Jay McEveley tried a long range effort but his strike failed to test shot-stopper Julian Speroni.
On-loan striker Tomasz Cywka surged forward to set up David Martin but the winger could not get enough power behind his shot to trouble Speroni.
The Polish midfielder was lively throughout the match and forced a save out of Palace's No.1 on the stroke of half-time.
Eagles boss Paul Hart looked to his veteran striker John to come on from the bench and galvanise his side into getting the equaliser, however Derby were relentless in possession and shut up shop.
The hard-working Savage should have done better when he stepped up to take a free-kick from a dangerous position, however the Welshman's effort sailed tamely over the bar.
Neil Danns could then have brought Palace level before the hour mark from a Sean Scannell cross but the midfielder headed wide from six yards out.
The Eagles were more threatening after the break and the experienced John flashed a shot wide from 12 yards out.
Michael Tonge saw his 25 yard free-kick go narrowly wide for Derby and Palace also came close when Johannes Ertl's long-range strike was just off-target.
County were handed another warning when Danny Butterfield picked out John but the Trinidad and Tobago forward headed straight at Bywater.
Bywater produced a fine double save to first deny Darren Ambrose and then John following up as Palace pressed for the equaliser.
With eight minutes remaining John thought he had brought the tie to 1-1 when his shot beat Bywater but struck the bar.
John's goal finally came five minutes from time when he slotted home from 12 yards to claim a much-deserved point.