Derby County 1 Sheffield Wednesday 1 – Dominic Iorfa’s second half header extends the Owls’ unbeaten run to eight under boss Steve Bruce
Dominic Iorfa's 57th minute header preserved Sheffield Wednesday's unbeaten run under Steve Bruce as they secured a battling draw at promotion-chasing Derby County.
Iorfa, recruited on January transfer deadline day, grabbed his second goal in Owls colours to cancel out Bradley Johnson's early opener.
The results extends Wednesday's unbeaten streak to nine Championship outings, eight since Bruce's appointment. Their last league defeat came at Hull City on January 12.
After losing Steven Fletcher to injury, the Owls showed grit and determination to dig in and grind out a deserved point.
After soaking up some good early pressure from Derby, Wednesday threatened to get their noses in front in the eighth minute after Adam Reach and Steven Fletcher exchanged passes on the edge of the box. Reach surged into the penalty area but his cut back near the byline evaded everyone in the centre.
Moments later, Johnson put the Rams ahead after Reach failed to clear Duane Holmes' corner.
Wednesday, to their credit, responded immediately after good play by Sam Hutchinson. The defensive midfielder won possession back deep inside Derby's half and the ball broke kindly to George Boyd, in for the injured Fernando Forestieri, saw his left foot piledriver acrobatically tipped over by Scott Carson.
There was a big scare in the 16th minute for the visitors when Jayden Bogle's exquisite pass put Martyn Waghorn in the clear but the centre-forward's first touch was heavy and Keiren Westwood dashed off his line to snuff out the chance.
Fletcher then spurned a glorious opportunity to level things up after he dispossessed Rams skipper Richard Keogh only for his fierce half volley to be turned away by Carson. The big Scot should have scored.
Reach collected the first yellow card of the afternoon after bringing down Derby dangerman Harry Wilson as the hosts looked to launch a quick counter attack.
Bruce made a tactical switch, moving Boyd to the right flank and deploying Reach in the number 10 position.
But Derby, who rejigged their forward line after Mason Bennett was forced off with an injury, continued to press for a second and Wilson curled a right foot drive wide after the Owls only partially cleared Holmes' corner.
Fletcher fired over from close range on the stroke of half-time after a dangerous cross by Bannan from the left to add to Wednesday's frustration.
The Owls' suffered yet another injury blow in the 52nd minute when Fletcher was forced off with a foot injury.
But Iorfa restored parity, powering home from inside the six-yard box after a fine Bannan free-kick.
Derby nearly regained the lead just after the hour mark. Left-back Scott Malone's spectacular volley from 30 yards struck the left hand upright and bounced to safety.
Winnall, wearing a protective mask, was introduced to beef up Wednesday's forward options, with the disappointing Boyd making way.
After Reach drilled a shot off target, the nine-goal midfielder then threaded a lovely pass through to Winnall, who was denied a sight at goal after an immaculate challenge by Fikayo Tomori.
Both teams looked lively going forwards and Derby's Jayden Bogle dragged an effort inches wide from the edge of the penalty area.
There was a controversial flashpoing in the 79th minute when Winnall prodded the ball into the net after another sweeping Wednesday attack but referee Keith Stroud chalked it off, claiming Winnall kicked the ball out of Carson's hands. The decision incensed Bruce and his coaching staff.
Westwood came to Wednesday's rescue, producing a superb stop to turn away Bogle's rasping drive.
Derby finished strongly and Johnson came within a whisker of bagging a second. His attempt from long range took a big deflection and flew agonisingly over.
Westwood was called into action again late on, palming away substitute Jack Marriott's stinging volley.
He made another good save in the closing stages as Wednesday held on for a share of the spoils.
Derby: Carson; Bogle, Keogh, Tomori, Malone; Huddlestone, Johnson; Wilson (Nugent 72), Holmes, Bennett (Jozefzoon 35): Waghorn (Marriott 68). Subs: Roos, Wisdom, Cole, Bird.
Owls Westwood; Iorfa, Lees, Hector, Palmer; Reach, Hutchinson, Bannan, Aarons (Fox 90); Boyd (Winnall 62), Fletcher (Nuhiu 52). Substitutes: Dawson, Thorniley, Pelupessy, Matias.
Referee: Keith Stroud (Hampshire)