Not surprisingly, Forest began brimming with confidence.
They looked comfortable in possession, passed the ball crisply in the opening 10 minutes and looked set to dispel the theory that form goes out of the window in local derbies.
A swift breakaway in the opening two minutes almost saw Rob Earnshaw through on goal and the Wales striker then had the first chance of the game but saw his shot blocked by a packed Rams rearguard after a corner was only half-cleared.
But Derby, who had lost their last three home games, quickly recovered from a tentative start and were the better side in a frantic first period.
Stephen Pearson lashed a shot wide after a vicious inswinging corner from Commons and the Rams then took control.
A sustained spell of pressure followed with former Forest playmaker Commons the main creator for the home side.
Centre-backs Wes Morgan and Kelvin Wilson were forced into some desperate defending and when Nigel Clough's men did fashion a chance against a team who had conceded just eight goals in 13 away games, Lee Camp stood firm.
The in-form keeper's best save saw him make a superb diving stop to keep out Barker's towering header.
Forest stepped up the pace after the break and matched their early quality and promise with much more aggression and a greater sense of urgency.
A glorious run by Radoslaw Majewski saw him jink his way past a couple of defenders but his blasted cross led to nothing.
Chris Cohen then delivered a dangerous free-kick that could easily have led to a goal.
And Bywater kept Derby level with a fabulous double save.
The former West Ham keeper made a fine stop to keep out Blackstock's close-ranged header from Chris Gunter's cross and was up in a split-second to block Anderson's follow-up.
But Derby rallied and, after putting Camp under pressure from a couple of corners, they took the lead from a Commons set-piece.
Hulse was the man to profit, when he finally escaped the attention of Morgan and powered the ball past Camp from six yards.
Forest failed to create a chance in the closing stages with the only noteworthy action coming in the form of a predictable melee involving, players and coaching staff from both sides.
But referee Neil Swarbrick quickly restored calm and Derby held on for a much-needed first home league win since Reading were beaten in late November.
Derby coach John Metgod:
"We have got to try to get some sort of consistency going and we have to make sure this is repeated for the rest of the season.
"This is the benchmark for that. We have had it before against big teams and then the next game has been totally different.
"Maybe it is because the players don't feel the pressure as much as people don't expect a win. Whereas playing lower teams people not only expect a win but they want you to win and won't stand for anything else but a win.
"It is not about playing well and playing out of your skin, but about doing everything you can to win a game. If you do that as a team you have a chance of getting success."
Nottingham Forest manager Billy Davies:
"It was a scrappy affair. They did a good job of stopping us play and we never got started.
"We looked a bit more like ourselves at the start of the second half but we didn't get going and that was disappointing.
"Derby coped better with the type of game it was and that is a lesson to these young players. We had too many at five and six out of 10 today.
"But am I going to criticise these players? Not a chance. I am very proud of what they have done so far this season - they have been top class.
Live text and stats
Saturday, 30 January 2010
03 McEveley yellow card
24 Hunt yellow card
10 Commons yellow card (Anderson 87)
16 Pearson yellow card
19 Johnson (Teale 74)
09 Hulse yellow card (Porter 89)
05 Morgan yellow card
16 Gunter yellow card
07 Anderson (Moussi 76)
28 Majewski yellow card (McGugan 81)
10 Earnshaw (Adebola 71)
Ref: SwarbrickAtt: 32,674
Attempts on target
Attempts off target
90:00+5:46 The final whistle goes and the game is over.
90:00+5:01 Free kick awarded for a foul by Dexter Blackstock on Nicky Hunt. Free kick taken by Stephen Bywater.
90:00+4:16 Booking The referee books Chris Gunter for unsporting behaviour.
90:00+4:15 Booking James McEveley shown a yellow card.
90:00+2:36 Shot from outside the box by Gary Teale misses to the left of the target.
89:58 Foul by Dexter Blackstock on Jake Buxton, free kick awarded. Stephen Bywater restarts play with the free kick.
88:21 Substitution Chris Porter joins the action as a substitute, replacing Rob Hulse.
87:03 Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Rob Hulse by James Perch. Gary Teale crosses the ball in from the free kick,
Shaun Barker challenges Kelvin Wilson unfairly and gives away a free kick. Lee Camp takes the free kick.
86:10 Substitution (Derby) makes a substitution, with Russell Anderson coming on for Kris Commons.
85:38 Paul Green takes a shot from 30 yards. Lee Camp makes a save.
84:53 Corner taken left-footed by Kris Commons from the right by-line, clearance made by Kelvin Wilson.
83:59 Dexter Blackstock concedes a free kick for a foul on Shaun Barker. Stephen Bywater takes the free kick.
82:10 Unfair challenge on Kris Commons by Wes Morgan results in a free kick. James McEveley delivers the ball from the free kick
left-footed from left channel, clearance made by Kelvin Wilson. Kris Commons takes a short corner.
80:31 Stephen Bywater takes the direct free kick.
80:31 Substitution Lewis McGugan is brought on as a substitute for Radoslaw Majewski.
80:31 Handball decision goes against Guy Moussi.
77:53 Kris Commons provided the assist for the goal.
77:53 GOAL - Rob Hulse:Derby 1 - 0 Nottm Forest Rob Hulse finds the back of the net with a headed goal from close range. Derby 1-0 Nottm Forest.
77:20 Foul by James Perch on Paul Green, free kick awarded. Kris Commons sends in a cross,
76:38 Foul by Dele Adebola on Shaun Barker, free kick awarded. Free kick taken by Stephen Bywater.
75:29 Direct free kick taken by Kelvin Wilson.
75:29 Substitution Paul Anderson goes off and Guy Moussi comes on.
75:29 Rob Hulse is penalised for handball and concedes a free kick.
74:12 Corner taken by Gary Teale, Lee Camp makes a save. Corner from left by-line taken by Gary Teale.
73:51 Inswinging corner taken by Gary Teale from the left by-line, Wes Morgan manages to make a clearance.
73:29 Substitution Gary Teale on for Lee Johnson.
73:16 Booking Caution for Wes Morgan.
70:09 Free kick crossed left-footed by Chris Cohen from left channel.
70:09 Substitution Dele Adebola on for Robert Earnshaw.
70:09 Booking Nicky Hunt is cautioned by the ref for unsporting behaviour.
69:39 Free kick awarded for a foul by Nicky Hunt on Dexter Blackstock.
68:57 Lee Camp takes the free kick.
68:57 Booking The referee books Kris Commons for dissent.
68:35 Kris Commons challenges James Perch unfairly and gives away a free kick.
67:03 Radoslaw Majewski takes a shot. Blocked by Robbie Savage.
65:43 Inswinging corner taken from the right by-line by Kris Commons. Kris Commons takes a shot. Save by Lee Camp.
65:08 Foul by Kelvin Wilson on Kris Commons, free kick awarded. Free kick taken by James McEveley.
64:22 Paul McKenna fouled by Kris Commons, the ref awards a free kick. Direct free kick taken by Lee Camp.
62:12 Rob Hulse produces a mishit left-footed shot from deep inside the penalty box which goes wide of the left-hand upright.
61:27 Rob Hulse gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Paul McKenna. Lee Camp restarts play with the free kick.
61:05 Radoslaw Majewski is ruled offside. Stephen Bywater takes the indirect free kick.
59:57 Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Robert Earnshaw by Shaun Barker. Direct free kick taken by Chris Cohen.
58:00 James Perch challenges Paul Green unfairly and gives away a free kick. The free kick is swung in right-footed by Nicky Hunt,
save by Lee Camp.
56:37 Dexter Blackstock takes a shot. Save by Stephen Bywater. Inswinging corner taken left-footed by Chris Cohen, Stephen Bywater
makes a save.
55:38 Wes Morgan concedes a free kick for a foul on Rob Hulse. James McEveley delivers the ball from the free kick left-footed from
left wing, save made by Lee Camp.
53:51 Inswinging corner taken left-footed by Chris Cohen played to the near post, Stephen Pearson manages to make a clearance. Chris
Gunter takes a long range shot clearing the crossbar.
53:13 The free kick is swung in left-footed by Chris Cohen, Rob Hulse makes a clearance.
53:13 Booking Stephen Pearson receives a caution for unsporting behaviour.
53:04 Chris Gunter fouled by Stephen Pearson, the ref awards a free kick.
51:57 Inswinging corner taken from the right by-line by Chris Cohen, clearance by Shaun Barker.
51:20 Free kick taken by Stephen Bywater.
51:20 Booking Radoslaw Majewski receives a caution.
51:11 The referee blows for offside.
49:23 Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Robbie Savage by Radoslaw Majewski. Nicky Hunt takes the direct free kick.
47:37 Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Chris Gunter by Stephen Pearson. Direct free kick taken by Lee Camp.
46:20 Stephen Pearson concedes a free kick for a foul on Chris Gunter. Lee Camp restarts play with the free kick.
45:34 Inswinging corner taken left-footed by Kris Commons played to the near post, clearance by Paul Anderson.
45:01 The referee gets the second half started.
45:00+2:06 The first half comes to an end.
45:00+0:54 Lee Johnson challenges James Perch unfairly and gives away a free kick. James Perch takes the direct free kick.
42:32 Direct free kick taken by Kelvin Wilson.
42:32 Booking Booking for Rob Hulse for unsporting behaviour.
42:01 Rob Hulse gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on James Perch.
41:29 Robert Earnshaw has an effort at goal from outside the box which misses left.
37:49 Outswinging corner taken right-footed by Lee Johnson from the right by-line, Wes Morgan makes a clearance.
34:10 Nicky Hunt fouled by Chris Cohen, the ref awards a free kick. Free kick taken by Stephen Bywater.
33:26 Unfair challenge on Paul Anderson by Nicky Hunt results in a free kick. Lee Camp takes the direct free kick.
28:44 Free kick awarded for a foul by Robbie Savage on Chris Gunter. The ball is delivered by Chris Cohen, Headed effort from deep
inside the area by Dexter Blackstock misses to the right of the goal.
27:51 Rob Hulse concedes a free kick for a foul on Wes Morgan. Free kick taken by Lee Camp.
25:57 Rob Hulse is flagged offside by the assistant referee. Free kick taken by Lee Camp.
25:20 Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Shaun Barker by Paul Anderson. Stephen Bywater takes the direct free kick.
24:29 Corner taken by Lee Johnson from the left by-line to the near post, Chris Gunter makes a clearance.
23:59 Inswinging corner taken by Lee Johnson from the left by-line, Shaun Barker takes a shot. Save made by Lee Camp.
22:35 Kris Commons takes a corner.
21:55 Inswinging corner taken by Kris Commons from the right by-line, Jake Buxton takes a shot. Save by Lee Camp.
21:07 Dexter Blackstock gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Robbie Savage. The free kick is delivered left-footed
by Kris Commons from left channel, clearance by Wes Morgan.
19:25 Kris Commons delivers the ball, save made by Lee Camp. Corner taken by Lee Johnson from the right by-line, clearance made
by Wes Morgan.
18:33 Kris Commons decides to take the corner short. Corner taken left-footed by Kris Commons, Paul McKenna makes a clearance.
16:23 Robbie Savage gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Radoslaw Majewski. Chris Cohen crosses the ball, Close range
headed effort by Wes Morgan misses to the right of the target.
15:02 Corner taken right-footed by Radoslaw Majewski from the left by-line to the near post, Stephen Pearson makes a clearance.
10:09 Corner taken left-footed by Kris Commons from the right by-line, Effort from inside the area by Stephen Pearson misses to
the right of the goal.
8:36 Dexter Blackstock gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Nicky Hunt. Direct free kick taken by Nicky Hunt.
7:58 Rob Hulse is flagged offside by the assistant referee. Wes Morgan takes the indirect free kick.
4:15 Corner taken left-footed by Chris Cohen from the right by-line, Robert Earnshaw takes a shot. Jake Buxton makes a clearance.
Corner taken short by Radoslaw Majewski.
0:33 Unfair challenge on Robbie Savage by Paul McKenna results in a free kick. James McEveley takes the direct free kick.
0:00 The match gets underway.
Live text and data provided by The Press Association.
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