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Catching the dragon: Derby 1-2 Forest

What an unspeakably magnificent day. Nick Miller was there, and he keeps discovering new bruises on his legs from the celebrations...

Scott Heavey/Getty Images

It's a bit of a cliché to talk about football as a drug, as something you can't give up despite common sense pointing that way. But, like most clichés, within lies truth. Like drug addicts we're chasing the dragon, looking to repeat that elusive high, the euphoria of the that one incredible hit, but rather than importing chemicals we're trying to awaken ones already in our body.

Going to Forest v Derby games has, over the last few years, provided many, many more moments of pain and disappointment than euphoric ones, but I go to every one in the hope of repeating my favourite moment of recent times, Robbie Earnshaw's goal and the 1-0 win back in 2011, a game which seemed to build perfectly to that one moment, producing a moment of phenomenal catharsis that I hadn't felt since. That elusive high again.

This was better. Sorry Earnie, Benny Osborn is now No.1, with a bullet. If there's a more perfect moment in football than beating a hated rival having come from behind with an injury-time goal from a youth team product, when that rival are just objectively better than you, and with an embattled club hero as manager who may well have been handed his cards had there been a repeat of last season's repulsive calamity...well, there isn't, so stop thinking.

We'll talk about what this result means in a wider context and to the season in general in the near future I'm sure, about how this could galvanise the squad and inspire something more tangible, but for the moment let's just savour this

The first-half was almost what we – or I, at least – feared, Derby playing the sort of neat football that has made them among the best, if not the best, in the division for over a year now. Will Hughes and Johnny Russell and Jamie Ward looked as if they were toying with Forest at some stages, with flicks and passes and runs that a team devoid of confidence and anything close to certainty simply couldn't deal with. Henri Lansbury looked like a calamity happening rather than merely waiting to happen, the decision to play Robert Tesche as an attacking midfielder appeared to be another Stuart Pearce brainwave gone absolutely awry, while Kelvin Wilson resembled a drunk foal. Such was Derby's dominance that it was a significant boost that we were only 1-0 down at half-time.

This is where the comments of Danny Mills that we've all enjoyed over the last 24 hours come in, of course. If Pearce really can't motivate a side, then it would be interesting to hear Danny's thoughts on the second-half performance, which was the perfect example of a team playing while still very aware of a massive boot mark in their behinds left by a very cross manager. Mills might well have a point and few will argue that Pearce is Bela Gutmann, but some say his comments have more than a little to do with Pearce dropping him like a hot anvil while at Manchester City. You may very well think that, but I couldn't possibly comment.

Talk of heart and gumption and simple commitment is unfashionable in this age of stats and tactics and cold analysis, but while all of that has its place, there can rarely have been a more perfect example of a team fuelled by such old time things as Forest in the second-half.

We were technically better, of course, with Britt Assombalonga managing to hold the ball up more effectively and Osborn becoming increasingly influential from the left, but that doesn't explain fully the swing in the game. This improvement, along with Forest's increased mental faculties, and with an inexplicable Derby bottle-job thrown in, meant that the game built and built towards its glorious conclusion.

Both goals were massively enjoyable in their own way. Assombalonga's was entertainingly scrappy, forced home after a brief scramble in a crowded penalty area, after which I earned a healthy bruise when the Drunkest Man In Derbyshire next to me (who, incidentally, spent much of the first-half swaying and yelling "FEED THEM TO THE GOATS!" for reasons unclear) bundled me half into the row in front during the celebrations. More a trophy than a bruise, now.

And then Benny. Wee Benny Osborn, whatever you wish, I shall do. As he advanced on goal there seemed to be better options left and right, but he continued on what looked like an arrow-straight run from outside to in and eventually mullered the ball past a grasping Lee Grant. Cue chaos, catharsis, the Drunkest Man In Derbyshire just disappearing to I don't know where, unintelligible screaming and hugging the nearest person to you. Fortunately, in the interests of social etiquette, in my case it was my dad.

I've slept for a few hours since the game and now upon waking, head rather fuzzy, it sort of feels I wasted a few hours that I could've spent watching the goal, and perhaps more importantly the celebrations, on loop. Pearce and Lascelles on the sidelines, Cohen, Reid and Fawaz in the stands, us lot becoming an undulating mass of joy.

The reaction of the opposition fans is always wonderful in these situations. For a start, the number of their lot that got up and left as soon as Osborn's shot hit the net was astonishing: not a significant proportion of the crowd, but certainly enough to notice once I peeled myself off the floor. There were still at least three minutes remaining of probably the biggest game of the season - think of how good it would've felt for their fans had they equalised. Obviously this sort of thing happens everywhere, but everyone whose instant reaction to that goal was to think 'Ah, I'll beat the rush then' should take themselves outside and thrash themselves silly with a wet slipper.

Also, the clattering berk of a Derby fan who ran onto the pitch after the final whistle to swing at Wilson will have some trickier than usual job applications in his near future. Hope nearly thumping a Forest player because you lost was worth it, fella. Waiting at the station after the game, I heard a Derby fan say: "Never mind. It's only a game." When you can make them resort to nonsense like that, you know it's been a good day.

My old man hasn't been very well recently. He's better now, but if it was possible to make a moment and a win like that better, being there with him did. Of the hundreds, perhaps thousands of Forest games I've gone to in the last 26 years, maybe only a dozen or so have been without him, and it's not the same when he isn't there. I hugged him a little tighter at the final whistle.

So thanks Stuart. Even if it all goes wrong again from here, we'll always have this.