NEW boss Mark Warburton was put through the wringer in his first Nottingham Forest game, but admitted the Reds’ last-minute draw with East Midlands rivals Derby taught him plenty about his players.
Both Warburton and new Derby boss Gary Rowett took charge of their respective teams only in midweek, and it was Forest who drew first blood when Zach Clough gave them a halftime lead.
Rowett tweaked his tactics in response, and looked like he would be celebrating a debut win when Matej Vydra and David Nugent scored to turn the game on its head.
But Daniel Panillos’ header, in the last-minute of stoppage time, ensured a share of the spoils – and former Brentford and Rangers boss Warburton says Forest’s character merited the point.
He said: “You do learn more of your players.
“You ask if the players have the belief and desire to take the game by the scruff of the neck and push on, and they did.
“We showed some real tempo, and desire and quality on the ball in the first-half, which was really pleasing. The truth is we were sloppy at the start of the secondhalf.
“But most pleasing was the character the players’ showed to get control of the game again, and to get the rewards so late was great for the players.
“We would have been very upset not to get something out of the game. But they showed great character, came back, got the late reward and I thought we fully deserved it.”
It took just four minutes for Forest to take the lead, when Clough took advantage of some sloppy Derby defending to meet Pinillos’ cross unmarked and slot in first time.
Tom Ince could have levelled on 26 minutes, when Danny Fox was caught in possession playing out of defence, but failed to hit the target when well-placed.
But a slight tactical tweak at half-time paid immediate dividends for Rowett, as Johnny Russell crossed for Vydra to turn in the equaliser on 47 minutes.
HEADS UP: Nottingham Forest’s Daniel Pinillos scores a late equaliser and, inset, Derby's Matej Vydra scores their first goal