Full-time: Jamie Ward strike earns Derby County 1-1 draw with Nottingham Forest
JAMIE Ward's second-half strike earned Derby County a 1-1 draw with arch rivals Nottingham Forest.
Chris Cohen gave Forest the lead at a packed Pride Park Stadium just after the half-hour.
But Ward grabbed an equaliser in the 52nd minute to ensure the match ended all square.
Ward and Craig Bryson both made their return to the Derby starting line-up.
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Ward was making his first start since the end of September, when he suffered a torn hamstring - coincidentally against Forest at the City Ground.
Bryson, meanwhile, had missing the previous four games due to a knee injury.
As a result of the two changes, Ben Davies and Kieron Freeman dropped to the bench.
Will Hughes was passed fit to play after being forced out of last weekend's 2-1 defeat at Brighton with a back problem.
John Brayford, who was deployed in midfield against Brighton, reverted to his regular position of right-back.
Forest boss Alex McLeish made one change to his side, with defender Danny Collins returning from suspension in place of Dan Harding.
Derby started brightly and put the visitors under some early pressure.
Bryson fired a speculative effort wide and when the midfielder was fouled just outside the area, Ward's free kick was deflected, off the wall, just past the post.
Forest responded by carving out two good chances.
The first, in the 14th minute, stemmed from Richard Keogh misjudging a high ball down the middle and ended with Simon Cox smashing a shot against the crossbar, with Mark O'Brien eventually clearing the danger.
Moments later, Cox was released on the right and his cut-back found the advancing full-back, Gonzalo Jara Reyes, who blazed over from a promising position.
At the other end, Forest keeper Karl Darlow had to beat away a deflected Gareth Roberts cross as Conor Sammon prepared to pounce.
Then, on the half-hour, Paul Coutts fired wide from a difficult angle after combining with Sammon down the right.
Forest went ahead in the 31st minute.
Billy Sharp's cross from the right reached Cohen, whose initial volley was miscued but fell kindly for him to side-foot past Adam Legzdins from eight yards.
In search of an equaliser, Brayford surged forward and drove a shot wide from outside the box.
And just before the interval, Ward curled a 20-yard effort narrowly wide after exchanging passes with Sammon.
Derby were level seven minutes into the second half.
Sammon won the ball well midway inside the Forest half and picked out Ward, who coolly finished first-time from 12 yards out.
The goal lifted the home side and they almost took the lead immediately when Jeff Hendrick's dipping shot was tipped over by Darlow.
Next, O'Brien headed over from a Coutts corner.
Forest still looked a threat, though, with Henri Lansbury dragging a shot wide before Cox pulled the ball across the face of goal.
With 20 minutes to go, substitute Dexter Blackstock found himself free from a corner but his downward header bounced up and over the bar.
As the clock ticked down, the visitors looked the more likely to nick a winner.
Derby were indebted to skipper Keogh for a vital clearance from Cohen's dangerous cross.
And with six minutes to go, Sharp span on the edge of the area and drilled a low shot inches wide, with Legzdins rooted to the spot.
GOALS: Cohen (31) 0-1; Ward (52) 1-1.
DERBY COUNTY: Legzdins, Brayford, Keogh, O'Brien, Roberts, Coutts, Hughes, Hendrick, Bryson (Jacobs, 75), J Ward (Robinson, 67), Sammon. Subs: Fielding (gk), O'Connor, Freeman, Davies, Bennett.
NOTTINGHAM FOREST: Darlow, Jara, E Ward, Collins, Halford, Gillett (Moussi, 69), Lansbury, Majewski (Blackstock, 63), Cohen, Cox, Sharp. Subs: Evtimov (gk), Moloney, Harding, Greening, McGugan.
REFEREE: M Clattenburg (Tyne & Wear).
BOOKINGS: Forest - E Ward (60) foul on Hendrick. Rams - none.