Hartlepool United suffered FA Cup heartbreak as Darren Bent’s late winner saw Championship Derby County reach the fourth round.
Pools produced a fine performance and took the lead in the second half through Jake Gray but Jacob Butterfield equalised moments later for the visitors.
Hartlepool looked to have earned a deserved replay but Bent’s goal five minutes from time decided the tie.
Pools started the game on the front foot winning a corner within the opening two minutes. The corner was cut back to Michael Woods in space 10 yards out but the midfielder fired over.
Derby had their first effort on goal in the 19th minute when Darren Bent turned in the area and fired on goal but Trevor Carson saved well.
The Rams handed Hartlepool-born, ex-High Tunstall pupil Jonathan Mitchell his debut and the 21-year-old calmly dealt with a number of early crosses into the box.
The best chance of the half fell to the Championship side three minutes before half-time but Carson pulled off a spectacular save to keep the game goalless.
Derby-debutant Nick Blackman met Ryan Shotton’s cross from the right eight yards out, but Carson showed impressive reactions to save the header.
From the resulting corner, Blackman almost opened the scoring but Jake Carroll blocked his goal bound effort from the edge of the area.
The visitors pressed hard for an opener at the end of the first half, with a number of corners and dangerous balls into the box but Pools held out until the break.
Pools had an early chance to score shortly after the break when Lewis Hawkins broke into the box, cut the ball back to Gray on the penalty spot, but the Crystal Palace loanee mis-kicked when the chance came.
Derby then came inches from taking the lead after 53 minutes when, following a knock down from Darren Bent, Derby new boy Abdoul Camara fired a fierce shot off the cross bar from 20-yards with Carson beaten.
Pools broke quickly downfield following the effort and Jake Carroll crossed from the left hand edge of the penalty area but the ball passed along the six-yard box without a Pools player getting a touch.
Pools got their opener just after the hour mark through GRAY to send a packed Victoria Park wild.
Michael Woods drove into the area from deep in midfield and stood a left footed ball up to the back post where Gray volleyed home into the top right corner.
Derby equalised in the 66th minute through BUTTERFIELD just seconds after coming on as a substitute. The midfielder evaded the Pools defence to find space 20 yards out and drilled a low shot into the bottom corner.
Five minutes later, following a Pools corner, Jordan Richards’ cross was headed over by Adam Jackson with a hopeful Pools appeal for a penalty turned down.
Carson again produced a fine save in the 73rd minute to keep his side level. Camara crossed from the left and found BENT in the six-yard box but the former England international’s header was saved by Carson.
In the 84th minute substitute Brad Walker lifted a cross at the back post where Scott Fenwick just failed to make contact in the goal mouth.
Bent got Derby’s winner in the 86th minute when Camara’s cross from the left was deflected into the striker’s path who made no mistake from eight yards.
Pools: Carson, Richards, Harrison, Jackson, Carroll, Featherstone (Bingham 87), Woods, Gray (Walker 80), Hawkins, Oates, Fenwick.
Unused subs: Bartlett, Jones, Nearney, Oyenuga, Smith,.
Goal: Gray 61
Derby County: Mitchell, Bryson (Butterfield 66), Buxton, Baird, Pearce, Warnock, Hanson (Russell 45), Shotton, Bent, Blackman
(Weimann 76), Camara.
Unused subs: Grant, Christie, Ssewankambo, Bennett.
Goals: Butterfield 66 Bent 86