It was the home side that started the better and they had a penalty shout turned down after seven minutes when Jake Buxton appeared to handle inside the area, but no decision was forthcoming.
Derby had a half-chance to take the lead after 12 minutes when Connor Sammon advanced into the Forest box, but his effort was always rising over the crossbar.
It took until 14 minutes for the first real effort on goal, when Chris Cohen tested the palms of Frank Fielding from outside the penalty area. Meanwhile, the match started to become scrappy as the half advanced with a host of dangerous challenges raising the temperature.
Chances remained few and far between in the latter stages of the half as the two sides entered the break level.