Jones' stunner sinks Owls
Derby 1 Sheffield Wednesday 0
The former Manchester United midfielder swung in a delightful curling 20-yard shot from wide on the right in the 94th minute after substitute Craig Fagan, making his debut for the Rams, was felled by Tommy Spurr.
It was a huge moment that sent the Rams fans into raptures, and was a little unfortunate for Brian Laws` side, who had looked set to extend their unbeaten away run to five games with a dogged display in a game which both defences were on top.
Gary Teale was handed a Derby County debut but he was the only one of the week's three new signings to line up from the start. Teale arrived at the club along with Stephen Pearson and Craig Fagan, who were both on the bench, while Arturo Lupoli kept his place after scoring a hat-trick in the FA Cup win over Wrexham.
Seth Johnson was back in the middle of midfield in place of Bob Malcolm and with Matt Oakley unwell the captain's armband went to Darren Moore, who was in the centre of defence alongside the returning Dean Leacock.
The home side had the better of the chances. Steve Howard went close with three headers, the best came from a teasing cross from Teale on 20 minutes, but Howard could only head it wide of the target. Last weeks hat-trick hero Lupoli also went close but his header was cleared off the line by the alert Kenny Lunt.
But the Rams were almost caught napping after only a few seconds when two ex-players combined well.
It was easy to see how the Owls have won four away games on the spin with their quick counter-attacking football when Marcus Tuday broke free down the right before crossing to another former County player, Deon Burton, but Marc Edworthy, who was outstanding all game, was able to glance the ball away for a corner.
But the Rams side found their feet and began to turn the screw. Scotland international Teale, making his debut following a £600,000 move from Wigan, seemed to be enjoying himself down the right flank, and he was a constant menace for the Owls defence, and his service from the flanks made Howard a constant threat in the air in the box
Again it was Teale`s cross, which coursed problems in the box and the Owls skipper Bullen had to head over his own crossbar from four-yards with Howard ready to pounce.
Wednesday also had chances and, Chris Brunt fired just wide with a low 25-yard drive which fizzed wide of the right post.
Again Howard demonstrated his aerial ability, heading just wide from 10-yards from Jones` inswinging corner, on the half-hour, as the Rams picked up the pace.
But Wednesday hit on a lightning counter-attack and almost made the Rams pay for their missed chances late on when Brunt`s defence-splitting pass caught out the Rams rearguard. Tudgay elected to take the ball first-time on the volley but sent his shot wide, as the score remained goalless at the interval.
It was Wednesday who were again the quickest out of the blocks in the second period when Lunt`s snap shot was saved by Stephen Bywater.
Both defences were on top with Moore and Leacock outstanding for Rams, and the game needed a change, and Davies brought on debutants Fagan and Pearson midway through the second half.
The Rams began to dominate the final stages with Wednesday defending desperately, and it looked like their endeavour had been rewarded. But in a case of deja vu for the Rams, who scored a last-gasp winner through Paul Peschisolido against the Owls earlier in the season, they hit a dramatic late winner.
Fagan earned the free kick from which Jones dramatically claimed the three points to send the home fans home very happy.
Derby: Bywater, Edworthy, Leacock, Moore, Camara, Barnes (Fagan 63), Teale (Bisgaard 72), Jones, Seth Johnson (Pearson 64), Howard, Lupoli.
Subs Not Used: Michael Johnson, Malcolm.
Goals: Jones 90.
Sheff Wed: Crossley, Simek, Bougherra, Bullen, Spurr, Tudgay, Lunt, Whelan, Brunt (Small 69), Burton, MacLean (Graham 90).
Subs Not Used: Adamson, Coughlan, Folly.
Booked: Simek, Crossley, Spurr.
Ref: C Oliver (Northumberland).
Billy Davies revealed Jones` ability from set-pieces was one of the reasons he paid £1million for his services.
He said: ''I wasn`t surprised at all. He does it on the training ground every day. He`s a tremendous young talent, no doubt. We certainly have one or two good free-kick takers and he is one of them.
''He has signed a long-term contract with us and he is part of the rebuilding job ongoing here and I am delighted to have him.``
Jones is one of four new arrivals at Pride Park in what was a busy week for Davies, with Gary Teale, Craig Fagan and Stephen Pearson all making their debuts against Brian Laws` side - and all impressed their new manager.
Davies said: ''One or two have just done medicals on Thursday so it was a lot to ask. I was delighted with Teale, he gives us a threat down the flanks, he causes a problem or two for defences.
''Pearson and Fagan made an impact when they came on. They showed athleticism and can join in in the final third of the field.
''They certainly join in and cause a problem or two. It will take them time to gel, it will take them three or four games to find their feet. They raise that bar of competition, which is what we want to do.``
Davies admitted more transfer activity was likely at the club before the end of the month, with prize asset Giles Barnes a reputed target of a clutch of Barclays Premiership clubs.
''We are rebuilding here. We will make signings again before the transfer window closes. We want to build as strong a squad as possible,`` Davies said.
''It`s inevitable that some players will look for pastures new. We want to keep the lad (Barnes) but what will happen is that, when an exceptional offer for one of our players comes in, we will have to look at it.``
The Rams picked up their first win over the Owls on home soil since 1998, when they met in the top flight - and Davies admitted his players were given a stern test by a side with similar ambitions of promotion.
''I thought we turned the screw in the second half, there was always a possibility they would hit us on the counter with their attacking options, but we should have scored before we did and its a good three points,`` Davies said.
''That`s as good a test as we will get all season. They are a good away side, a tough test, but I don`t think anyone can deny us the three points and it was great to introduce the three players. But 18 games is a long way to go.``
Laws had words of sympathy for young defender Tommy Spurr, who brought down Fagan for the decisive free-kick.
Laws said: ''It was a rash challenge from Tommy Spurr. He`s young, he`s naive, he`s tried to win the ball.``
''I thought that any football that was played was played by Sheffield Wednesday. It was just the last pass in the final third that let us down. Apart from that, we were excellent.``
Laws insisted he is by no means jealous of opposite number Davies, who has spent £3.1million in the space of a week.
He added: ''When you spend money, you have got to spend it for the right reasons.
''They have got to be better than what we have got. It would some player to do better than what we have got at the moment - my players work very hard.``