Derby County came from 2-0 down at half-time to earn a deserved draw with Championship high fliers Brentford.
After 27-goal Championship top scorer Ivan Toney’s eighth-minute penalty and a low shot from Sergi Canos, Lee Gregory got one back before fellow half-time substitute Louie Sibley’s stunning left-foot curler just four minutes from time.
Brentford, who now trail second-placed Watford by five points, looked on course for a fourth win in five games.
But Derby boss Wayne Rooney shook things up with a three-man half-time substitution.
And it paid off as the Rams hit back to earn only their second point in five matches in March – and edge eight points clear of danger.
Derby had previously endured a miserable month, having picked up just one point and drawn four successive blanks in front of goal.
It looked bad for the Rams when Bryan Mbeumo was brought down by Lee Buchanan and Toney converted from the spot.
Then Canos cut in from left on 23 minutes to drill a low right-foot shot which beat keeper Kelle Roos at his near right post to seemingly put the Bees on course for another win.
But Gregory was one of three half-time substitutes and the on-loan Stoke City striker, who replaced Louie Watson, scored within two minutes of coming on.
He steered home Nathan Byrne’s low cross from close range for only his second goal for the Rams since arriving on the final day of the transfer window last month.
That gave the Rams the confidence to look for more and they got their point when Sibley came up with his first goal in almost eight months – since the 3-1 win at Birmingham last July.
Another of Derby’s subs Patrick Roberts, who had only just come on, slipped a pass to his left inside and Sibley neatly feinted to give himself the space he needed to send a superb 20-yard shot arcing beyond the reach of David Raya.
Derby boss Wayne Rooney:
“The first half was everything we didn’t want. We looked a bit nervous and if you leave teams like Brentford that space they’ll hurt you so I had to make changes at half-time.
“We showed great energy and great character and fully deserved a point in the end. We came out at half-time and played with no fear.
“I know sometimes it’s difficult to do that but that’s what we have to do. We have to believe we are a good team.
“If we play on the front foot, are aggressive, take chances and are not scared of the consequences then we’ll do well. The second half was very good. We had Brentford on the back foot.”
Brentford head coach Thomas Frank:
“Definitely a game of two halves. We were absolutely excellent first half, maybe one of the best we’ve played so far in the season, totally in control on and off the ball.
“We could have been up by more than two and we talked at half-time of needing to up the tempo, as we knew they would come flying out.
“They changed three players so we knew something would happen. Then they got that goal so now it’s a master-stroke by Wayne and his coaching staff and was well deserved.
“Definitely they deserve some respect because they did what they did to change things. But we need to do better. We simply didn’t keep the ball well enough.”
- 2WisdomSubstituted forRobertsat 86′minutes
- 8BirdSubstituted forMengiat 45′minutes
- 7JozwiakSubstituted forSibleyat 45′minutes
- 40WatsonSubstituted forGregoryat 45′minutes
- 13Kazim-RichardsSubstituted forLawrenceat 78′minutes
- 29Bech Sørensen
- 8JensenSubstituted forGhoddosat 71′minutes
- 6NørgaardSubstituted forForssat 89′minutes
- 19MbeumoSubstituted forRasmussenat 85′minutes
- 7CanósSubstituted forFosu-Henryat 71′minutes
Match ends, Derby County 2, Brentford 2.
Second Half ends, Derby County 2, Brentford 2.
Foul by Marcus Forss (Brentford).
Matthew Clarke (Derby County) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Attempt missed. Tom Lawrence (Derby County) right footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses to the right. Assisted by Lee Gregory.
Foul by Mads Rasmussen (Brentford).
Graeme Shinnie (Derby County) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Winston Reid (Brentford) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Lee Gregory (Derby County).
Substitution, Brentford. Marcus Forss replaces Christian Nørgaard.
Goal! Derby County 2, Brentford 2. Louie Sibley (Derby County) left footed shot from outside the box to the top left corner. Assisted by Patrick Roberts.
Substitution, Derby County. Patrick Roberts replaces Andre Wisdom.
Substitution, Brentford. Mads Rasmussen replaces Bryan Mbeumo.
Foul by Bryan Mbeumo (Brentford).
Louie Sibley (Derby County) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Attempt saved. Jason Knight (Derby County) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the centre of the goal.
Foul by Vitaly Janelt (Brentford).
Jason Knight (Derby County) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Attempt blocked. Ivan Toney (Brentford) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Saman Ghoddos.
Foul by Saman Ghoddos (Brentford).