Derby 1-1 Sheffield Wednesday: Darren Bent grabs draw for Derby
By Charlotte Marsh
Last Updated: 23/04/16 3:16pm
Darren Bent scored with his first touch to grab a 1-1 draw for Derby against fellow play-off rivals Sheffield Wednesday.
The former England international took just a minute to get the hosts level (82) as the points were shared in an entertaining Sky Bet Championship encounter.
Barry Bannan had put Sheffield Wednesday ahead with 21 minutes to play at the iPro Stadium, but the Owls ultimately had to settle for a draw in an even match-up.
The Rams are already assured of a play-off place and move up to fourth above Hull ahead of the 3pm kick-offs while Sheffield Wednesday still await their confirmation in the final six with Cardiff yet to play as they sit in the last spot on 71 points.
It was a fast-paced first half with end-to-end chances as Chris Martin fired an effort into the arms of Keiren Westwood after some good work from Craig Bryson before Scott Carson was also called into action as Daniel Pudil attempted to find Gary Hooper - but the goalkeeper got there ahead of the striker.
Hooper was then involved again as a Kieran Lee cross just evaded him, before Jacob Butterfield tested Westwood again after working himself into space at the top of the box, but his effort was held well by the Owls stopper.
The game was ultimately a display of defences as the Derby back line again showed their prowess, as an unmarked Bannan fired towards goal from the left with Carson saving the initial shot and Jason Shackell there to clear the danger ahead of the waiting Hooper.
Derby came the closest to scoring for the remainder of the half with Bryson smashed an effort from 20 yards out that Westwood was forced to tip over the bar, before Johnny Russell's cross just evaded Martin at the mouth of an open goal and Ince curled a free kick over the bar in the last minute of injury time.
It was Sheffield Wednesday who started the stronger in the second half, with Forestieri producing a fine effort. He fired towards goal from just inside the area that produced a fine leaping save from Carson as his shot look destined for the top corner.
But the power was quick to shift, and Derby came close to breaking the deadlock in the 56th minute, as Cyrus Christie crossed for Bryson but Westwood save his effort from point blank range.
There was no doubting Derby should have been ahead just seconds later as Russell had his shot saved in a packed box before Ince hooked the ball to Martin in the top right corner who could only hit over the top bar.
But it was Wednesday who took the lead just before the 70 minute mark with a brilliant effort from Bannan who played some lovely one-two passing with Hooper - who flicked the ball into his path at the top of the box - allowing the Scotsman to chip the ball over Carson and into the back of the net.
Darren Wassall made his first changes in the 81st minute, and one of his new introductions scored the equaliser 60 seconds later as Russell's cross from the left found Bent at the back post and he headed home with his first touch to get the hosts level.
The Rams came closest to nicking the winner in the final minutes, with Russell firing a free kick into the arms of Westwood and an unmarked Nick Blackman taking too long with his shot that let the goalkeeper make an easy save to see the game end level.