Tom Ince nets dramatic winner for Derby at Birmingham
Tom Ince secured Derby a dramatic 2-1 win over Birmingham as Gary Rowett's side won on his first return to St Andrew's.
It was a cruel blow for Birmingham as they had dominated long spells with a battling performance only to be thwarted by Ince and they remain on the fringes of the Sky Bet Championship relegation zone.
Rowett, dismissed by Birmingham and replaced by Gianfranco Zola, has steered his new side to four games unbeaten and Derby claimed an early lead against his old club.
Jacob Butterfield's shot came back off the post and the ball went in off goalkeeper Tomasz Kuszczak.
Battling Birmingham hit back with a fully deserved 63rd minute equaliser from Che Adams but they suffered a late blow as Ince netted the winner in injury time.
Birmingham recalled Paul Robinson, Lukas Jutkiewicz and David Davis following the 3-1 midweek defeat at Brighton but they made a disastrous start and were trailing after only two minutes and 45 seconds.
Ince claimed possession on the byline and pulled a low ball into the path of Butterfield who crashed in a drive against the post but it rebounded onto the back of Kuszczak and into the net.
Jutkiewicz, who was always a problem for the Derby defence, gave an indication of Birmingham's determination when he attempted a scissors kick only to see his effort blocked by Chris Baird.
Birmingham tried unsuccessfully to get back on level terms with Jutkiewicz's clever angled chip posing a problem for Scott Carson who desperately fingered the cross away for a corner.
Jutkiewicz forced the ball into the net from the corner but the goal was disallowed for a foul on Carson.
Kuszczak then had to distinguish himself with another excellent save to keep out a David Nugent effort that had been set up with great skill by Butterfield.
The Birmingham keeper then did well to keep out an effort from Johnny Russell.
Birmingham's persistence paid off when they finally equalised in the 63rd minute. They were on top for long spells and a Craig Gardner corner could not be cleared by Derby and Adams was on hand to force the ball home.
With Birmingham seeking the winning goal a long clearance from Carson was picked up by the talented Ince who clipped the ball into the net to secure a dramatic victory for Derby.