Derby manager Paul Jewell hailed his side's Carling Cup quarter-final win over Stoke as "another step forward" in the club's rebuilding process.
"We had to fight, we had to scrap," said Jewell after Nathan Ellington's injury-time penalty secured victory.
"The lads showed courage and guts and that's what got us through.
"Stoke don't get enough credit for the quality of players they've got. They're a good team and we had to match them physically and mentally."
Ellington coolly rolled the ball beyond Steve Simonsen after Stoke's Andy Griffin handled Przemyslaw Kazmierczak's cross to leave referee Rob Styles with little option but to award the spot-kick.
Jewell, who was celebrating Derby first victory over Premier League opposition in 25 attempts since he took charge, admitted Ellington's nonchalance from the spot "nearly gave him a heart attack".
"People may have expected Nathan to blast a penalty in the last minute of a cup tie, but that is the way he takes penalties," said the Rams boss, whose team were relegated last season with the lowest number of points in Premier League history.
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