Sheffield Wednesday’s lingering hopes of a top-six finish were dealt another blow when they were held 1-1 by play-off-chasing Derby at Pride Park.
Steve Bruce’s side came from behind to claim a deserved point but a second draw in a week does little for their chances while Derby were frustrated to see a second victory in five days slip away despite moving back into sixth.
Bradley Johnson put Derby ahead but Wednesday wasted good chances before Dominic Iorfa headed in a free-kick early in the second half.
Sam Winnall had a goal ruled out on his return to Derby and Kieren Westwood made several late saves as the Rams pressed for a winner.
Winnall was on the Wednesday bench for the first time in 13 months following his knee injury last February while on loan at Derby but he saw his side fall behind after a promising start.
Wednesday had a great chance in the eighth minute when Steven Fletcher’s pass put Adam Reach through but with George Boyd waiting in the six-yard box, he floated a shot wide.
It was a costly miss because two minutes later, Duane Holmes won a corner which was flicked on by Reach at the near post and Johnson headed in from eight yards.
Boyd forced Scott Carson to tip over a shot from just outside the area before Derby had a great chance to increase their led when Jayden Bogle found Martyn Waghorn unmarked 12 yards out but his first touch was heavy allowing Westwood to save.
Wednesday should have equalised in the 25th minute when Johnson’s mistake presented Fletcher with a clear opening but his shot from 15 yards was too high and Carson pushed it away.
Derby lost Mason Bennett with an injury in the 35th minute and Wednesday had a half-chance in the 45th minute when Fletcher could not connect properly with a cross under pressure from Fikayo Tomori.
Fletcher was injured in a challenge by Richard Keogh and replaced in the 51st minute but Wednesday equalised six minutes later when Barry Bannan’s free-kick was headed in from six yards by Iorfa.
Derby almost regained the lead when Scott Malone’s 20-yard shot struck the outside of a post but Wednesday had a goal disallowed in the 79th minute when Winnall was ruled to have kicked the ball out of Carson’s hands.
Westwood turned behind a Bogle drive two minutes later and Johnson’s shot was deflected just over in the 87th minute before Derby went close again.
Jack Marriott’s low shot from the edge of the box was pushed away by Westwood, who dropped on the rebound, and the keeper made another vital save in stoppage time to parry a Holmes drive.