Derby striker Darren Bent heaped praise on Trevor Carson after the Hartlepool United keeper made him wait for his 200th career goal.
Bent’s late winner, finished expertly with his left foot, made it third time lucky against Carson.
I am sure this one will stick in my mind for a long, long time.
His old Sunderland pal saved a first-half shot and then, even better, made a tremendous point-blank stop from a diving header.
But in the end, Bent had the last laugh in the 2-1 win.
“I’m delighted,” said Bent.
“I am sure this one will stick in my mind for a long, long time because it’s the big one and an achievemment I am really proud of.
“It’s my 200th and the match-winner, although I would have taken someone else scoring if it meant us progressing in the cup.
“Trevor played really well and made some great saves,” he said. “But thankfully, we got into the next round ... but he made me stick on 199 for a few minutes more.
“I know him well from my days at Sunderland.
“He played really well but I for one, was not at all surprised.
“I always knew how good a keeper he was because he saved a few from me in training!
“He made save after save after save. We could have won a lot more comfortably if he hadn’t been in such great form.”
Bent, who scored 32 goals in 58 games for Sunderland before annoying fans by forcing a move to Aston Villa, was thrilled to bring up two centuries of goals in an FA Cup tie and had kinds words for Pools after their great effort.
“That’s seven seasons in a row I have scored in the FA Cup,” he said. “I’m really proud of that as well.
“It’s the best knockout competition in the world. It’s games like today which make it so great. Hartlepool gave us a real game and scored a great goal themselves.”
The perceived gulf in class was evident in County boss Paul Clement’s team selection as he made 10 alterations to the XI that lost 2-0 at Middlesbrough last week.
Clearly scenting an opportunity, Hartlepool began on the front foot and almost took an early lead when Michael Woods curled Rhys Oates’ clever corner just over.
County finally showed their quality towards the end of the first half as £2.5million debutant Nick Blackman’s began to dominate.
The recent recruit from Reading almost opened the scoring on the stroke of half-time when being superbly denied from point-blank range by Carson.
Blackman crafted two more openings before the break as he saw a goal-bound effort headed over by Carroll and hit another strike just wide.
Having been thankful to hear the whistle amid the growing onslaught, Hartlepool were doubtless displeased to see Clement introduce tricky winger Johnny Russell as Derby moved to a 4-4-2.
Yet it was those remaining on the field causing the problems, with Bent nodding down for Abdoul Camara - whose rasping 25-yard half-volley rattled the woodwork.
That close call took on greater importance when Hartlepool scored in lovely fashion, Woods producing a fine run and centre for Jake Gray to unfurl a clever scissor-kick finish.
The lead lasted a mere six minutes as substitute Jacob Butterfield, with his first touches, worked an opening and curled a pin-point 20-yard effort into the corner.
Lewis Hawkins drove narrowly over amid an impressive Hartlepool response, before Bent was denied by Carson’s stunning one-handed stop at the other end.
But the goalkeeper could do little about the former Tottenham striker’s next effort, Bent applying the crucial left-footed finish after Camara’s cross had trickled to the back post.
Hartlepool: Carson, Richards, Harrison, Jackson, Carroll, Featherstone (Bingham 87), Woods, Gray (Walker 80), Hawkins, Oates, Fenwick. Subs Not Used: Oyenuga, Bartlett, Jones, Nearney, Smith. Goals: Gray 61.
Derby: Mitchell, Baird, Pearce, Buxton, Warnock, Bryson (Butterfield 66), Hanson (Russell 46), Shotton, Camara, Bent, Blackman (Weimann 76). Subs Not Used: Bennett, Grant, Christie, Ssewankambo. Goals: Butterfield 67, Bent 85.
Att: 4,860 Ref: Darren Bond (Lancashire).