Match ends, Derby County 3, Cardiff City 1.
Derby County 3-1 Cardiff City
Derby County moved back into the play-off places after coming from behind to beat Cardiff City 3-1 at Pride Park.
Cardiff led 1-0 at the break through Callum Paterson's right-footed volley after 30 minutes following a Joe Bennett cross from the left.
But it was former Cardiff City striker Cameron Jerome who made the game's telling impact, scoring either side of Matej Vydra's 20th goal of the season.
Cardiff stay second, one point ahead of Fulham, while Derby move back to sixth.
A win for Warnock's Cardiff would have seen them needing just one win from their final two matches to clinch promotion, but instead they will have to beat Hull and Reading if third-place Fulham pick up maximum points.
For Derby, their play-off hopes are back in their hands after leapfrogging Millwall in to sixth.
Gary Rowett's side still face the difficult task of travelling to fourth-placed Aston Villa on Saturday, but they will have enjoyed getting back to winning ways.
Cardiff's uncharacteristic defensive mishaps
The first big chance of the game fell to Welsh international, and former Cardiff forward, Tom Lawrence but Neil Etheridge was quick off his line to deny him.
Minutes later, Cardiff felt aggrieved not to have been awarded a penalty after Bradley Johnson appeared to move his arm towards the ball in the 18-yard box.
Derby looked dangerous on the break throughout the first half but, as has been the case all season, Cardiff caused their opposition trouble with very little possession.
And it was Warnock's side who opened the scoring just before the half-hour mark, Paterson's right-foot volley beating Scott Carson at the near post.
Bennett's floated cross from the left-hand side went over the heads of a rising Gary Madine and Marcus Olsson, leaving Paterson alone to give the Bluebirds the lead.
Neil Etheridge was on hand once again to deny an on-rushing Andreas Weimann before Joe Ralls blazed over for Cardiff from 20 yards with the last kick of the first half.
Neither manager opted to make a change at half-time, and it was Derby who came out of the dressing rooms on the front foot.
A sloppy challenge from Bruno Ecuele Manga gave Lawrence a shooting opportunity from a free-kick after 50 minutes but his effort was blocked by a sizeable Cardiff wall.
Despite the lack of clear-cut opportunities early in the second half, the intensity on the pitch was cranked up a notch or two, Sol Bamba and Cameron Jerome exchanging words on more than one occasion.
Rowett introduced the Championship's top goalscorer Matej Vydra on the hour mark as Derby's search for an equaliser intensified but the final ball escaped the home side when they needed it.
For all the pressure Cardiff absorbed, the best chance of the second half fell the way of the visitors.
Joe Ralls' burst into the box evaded Derby's defenders before he squared the ball to Madine, who could not make proper contact with the ball when six yards out.
But just as Cardiff were ruing their missed opportunity, Derby struck at the other end through former Cardiff striker Jerome.
Derby's January signing from Norwich used his strength to hold off the attentions of Sean Morrison before rolling the ball past a sliding Bennett and Etheridge to level the score.
The Rams continued to pile on the pressure, searching for their second of the game, which prompted Warnock to ring the changes.
The introduction of Kenneth Zohore and Anthony Pilkington gave Cardiff a foothold in the game for a matter of minutes but it was Derby who struck the hammer blow.
A cross looked to have been dealt with comfortably by Yanic Wildschut but the Norwich loanee took too long on the ball and was dispossessed by Andre Wisdom, who squared the ball for Vydra to power his effort past Etheridge from 12 yards out.
Wildschut had the chance to make amends for his error at the other end but he failed to hit the target from an acute angle after the ball fell kindly to him.
And the game was put to bed minutes later as Jerome once again got the better of the Cardiff defence following a Morrison mistake, and Etheridge could do nothing to stop the Derby striker netting his second of the night.
Cardiff City manager Neil Warnock: "We are disappointed. I thought we should have won the game if we were anything like ourselves.
"Second half we have made defensive errors for every goal and that's not like us at all. We have to regroup now. It's not very often you see us make defensive errors like that.
"We will be sad tonight but that's life. Most clubs would swap positions with us, Derby included."
Derby County manager Gary Rowett: "I think when you look at the statistics in the divisions we have only come back once to win all season and most teams are exactly the same.
"We switched off once in the first half and we were behind and at that point it was deflating but the players stuck at it and second half I thought we were superb."
A weather-made grudge match
Originally scheduled for 18 March, Cardiff failed to capitalise on their game in hand over promotion rivals Fulham and Aston Villa against Derby over a month later.
After the fixture's cancellation last month due to snow, Warnock labelled Derby's decision to call off the game "a disgrace", suggesting Rowett's side did not want to face a then in-form Cardiff outfit.
Derby boss Rowett responded to Warnock's comments, saying he "didn't actually realise he's also a qualified health and safety inspector".
After both managers had their say on the matter and the controversy surrounding the postponement appeared to have faded, a video surfaced of Cardiff captain Sean Morrison using offensive language aimed at Derby players.
Morrison apologised for the video which only added to the build-up to Tuesday night's fixture, despite Cardiff boss Warnock insisting there was no bad blood ahead of kick-off.
- 29OlssonSubstituted forVydraat 60'minutes
- 19WeimannSubstituted forPearceat 88'minutes
- 10LawrenceSubstituted forHansonat 88'minutes
- 32JeromeBooked at 90mins
- 5Ecuele MangaBooked at 53mins
- 3BennettBooked at 66mins
- 18PatersonBooked at 11mins
- 8RallsBooked at 70mins
- 29WardSubstituted forWildschutat 74'minutes
- 33HoilettSubstituted forPilkingtonat 74'minutes
- 44MadineSubstituted forZohoreat 67'minutes
- Andy Madley
- Shots on Target
Second Half ends, Derby County 3, Cardiff City 1.
Attempt missed. Sol Bamba (Cardiff City) right footed shot from outside the box is too high. Assisted by Aron Gunnarsson.
Foul by Bradley Johnson (Derby County).
Kenneth Zohore (Cardiff City) wins a free kick on the right wing.
Cameron Jerome (Derby County) is shown the yellow card for excessive celebration.
Goal! Derby County 3, Cardiff City 1. Cameron Jerome (Derby County) right footed shot from the centre of the box to the bottom left corner. Assisted by Andre Wisdom.
Substitution, Derby County. Jamie Hanson replaces Tom Lawrence.
Substitution, Derby County. Alex Pearce replaces Andreas Weimann.
Corner, Cardiff City. Conceded by Richard Keogh.
Attempt saved. Sean Morrison (Cardiff City) left footed shot from the left side of the six yard box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Sol Bamba with a headed pass.
Corner, Cardiff City. Conceded by Curtis Davies.
Attempt missed. Kenneth Zohore (Cardiff City) header from the right side of the six yard box misses to the left. Assisted by Callum Paterson with a cross.
Attempt blocked. Craig Forsyth (Derby County) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Bradley Johnson.
Goal! Derby County 2, Cardiff City 1. Matej Vydra (Derby County) right footed shot from the centre of the box to the bottom right corner. Assisted by Andre Wisdom.
Attempt missed. Bradley Johnson (Derby County) left footed shot from outside the box misses to the right. Assisted by Tom Huddlestone.
Corner, Derby County. Conceded by Sol Bamba.
Attempt missed. Kenneth Zohore (Cardiff City) left footed shot from the right side of the box is high and wide to the left.
Attempt missed. Sol Bamba (Cardiff City) right footed shot from the centre of the box is high and wide to the right following a corner.
Corner, Cardiff City. Conceded by Craig Forsyth.
Substitution, Cardiff City. Anthony Pilkington replaces David Junior Hoilett.
Substitution, Cardiff City. Yanic Wildschut replaces Jamie Ward.
Foul by Richard Keogh (Derby County).
Neil Etheridge (Cardiff City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Corner, Derby County. Conceded by Sol Bamba.
Attempt blocked. Tom Lawrence (Derby County) right footed shot from the right side of the six yard box is blocked. Assisted by Andre Wisdom with a cross.
Corner, Derby County. Conceded by Bruno Ecuele Manga.
Joe Ralls (Cardiff City) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Matej Vydra (Derby County) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Joe Ralls (Cardiff City).
Goal! Derby County 1, Cardiff City 1. Cameron Jerome (Derby County) right footed shot from the centre of the box to the centre of the goal. Assisted by Richard Keogh with a headed pass.
Attempt missed. Curtis Davies (Derby County) right footed shot from outside the box misses to the right following a corner.
Attempt blocked. Curtis Davies (Derby County) header from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Tom Lawrence with a cross.
Corner, Derby County. Conceded by Jamie Ward.
Substitution, Cardiff City. Kenneth Zohore replaces Gary Madine.
Attempt missed. Curtis Davies (Derby County) header from the centre of the box is close, but misses the top left corner. Assisted by Craig Forsyth following a set piece situation.
Joe Bennett (Cardiff City) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Matej Vydra (Derby County) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Foul by Joe Bennett (Cardiff City).
Attempt missed. Gary Madine (Cardiff City) left footed shot from the centre of the box misses to the right. Assisted by Joe Ralls.