Derby County stretched their unbeaten home run to nine games on Wednesday night as they pilfered a point from their encounter with Sheffield Wednesday.
The Rams were poor for the vast majority of this game and were it not for another spirited late showing they would have taken nothing from it.
But, coupled with Wednesday failing to match their strong first-half display, the hosts did enough to take a share of the spoils thanks to Chris Martin’s late penalty.
That will paper over many a crack, however, as the first-half in particular saw Derby fail to make any impression, being poor in possession and lacking the desire and work-rate that might have left their fans more satisfied.
The second-half was better in that the Rams had more quality ball and a lot more vigour about them, but it had to be seen as a chance missed for Phillip Cocu’s men to bounce back from another poor away day at Blackburn on Saturday.
Wednesday opened by far the stronger, two crucial defensive interventions by Craig Forsyth and then Curtis Davies denying what looked certain goals in the first ten minutes as Steven Fletcher hovered intent on scoring.
But the Scot did get the opener on 23 minutes, albeit the Rams handed it to the visitors on a plate. Forsyth’s poor pass out from the back went straight to Barry Bannan and he in turn fed Fletcher who placed a fine effort into the corner of the net from the edge of the penalty area.
Chances were few and far between but the Rams’ lack of effort and desire was doing them no favours, Jason Knight with their first serious shot on goal in the 44th minute but it flew over the bar to the frustration of the home support.
Adam Reach flicked on a Bannan corner in stoppage time and saw the ball clip the top of the bar on its way to safety, half-time arriving with the Rams perhaps fortunate that the deficit was so narrow.
That nearly changed in the opening moments of the second-half as Duane Holmes’ cross was headed just over the top by Martin in the first moment of real promise the Rams all game.
More sleepiness at the back from the Rams was then nearly punished by Fletcher who headed over the top, but Derby were at least now awakened from their slumber and making more of a game of it.
Knight dragged a shot wide from 25 yards on 57 minutes, then Fletcher turned and fired straight into Ben Hamer’s arms at the other end.
Neither side were seriously looking like scoring though and only half chances were being created, Holmes with the next but shooting straight at Cameron Dawson from 25 yards.
But the Rams’ moment came on 82 minutes and it was from the penalty spot. Sub Jack Marriott was wrestled to the ground by Moses Odubajo as he battled for possession, ref Stephen Martin showing no hesitation in pointing to the spot.
Up stepped Martin and slotted the penalty home to Dawson’s left.
Odubajo’s bad night continued into stoppage time as, having been booked earlier in the game, picked up another yellow card after dragging down Scott Malone.
Marriott then saw a header from a Tom Lawrence corner deflected just over the top as the Rams rallied, but a point would be all they’d muster.
Derby: Hamer, Forsyth, Lawrence, Evans, Martin, Holmes, Davies ©, Bogle, Knight (Marriott 69), Malone, Whittaker (Waghorn 69)
Subs not used: Roos (GK), Wisdom, Dowell, Lowe, Bird
Sheff Wed: Dawson, Fox, Rhodes (Nuhiu 72), Harris (Murphy 61), Fletcher (Luongo 78), Bannan, Lees ©, Reach, Odubajo, Hutchinson, Iorfa
Subs not used: Jones (GK), Lee, Pelupessy, Borner