Harry Chapman hit a brace as Rovers Under-23s signed off 2020 in style against 10-man Derby County Under-23s
It was a barnstorming encounter at the Loughborough University Stadium, with Brad Lyons continuing his superb form in front of goal by putting Rovers ahead early on for his sixth goal in as many games.
Derby hit back though, with Louie Sibley, who was later sent off, thumping home the equaliser soon after.
Although the sides went in 1-1, the real madness started at the beginning of the second half.
Chapman's well struck strike put Rovers back in command before Sibley's deflected effort looped beyond Antonis Stergiakis to make it 2-2 on 50 minutes.
The turning point in the game came on the hour, with Sibley involved again as he received his second yellow card for a foul on Lewis Thompson.
Whilst many would have expected Rovers to take control from there on in, County took the lead for the first time in the game from the spot, with Jahmal Hector-Ingram stepping up to emphatically fire beyond Stergiakis.
But Rovers weren't worried and went straight down the other end to level things up for 3-3 through Chapman just seconds later.
The goals continued to arrive though, with trialist Joe Nolan slotting home from close range with 20 minutes remaining.
Tyrhys Dolan made the game safe with five minutes remaining with another terrific strike, with the cherry on top of the cake being the fact that Bradley Dack came through 45 minutes unscathed in his first competitive action almost a year to the day since suffering his knee injury against Wigan Athletic.
Elsewhere, the fellow first team trio of Dolan, Jacob Davenport and Hayden Carter all gained valuable minutes.
With their first team game postponed at the weekend, Derby also included a number of their senior players in the team.
Max Bird and Sibley started for the Rams when Rovers thumped Derby 4-0 at Pride Park at the beginning of the season, and they were named in the XI in Loughborough.
The likes of George Evans, Morgan Whittaker and Jahmal Hector-Ingram were all in the County squad back in that emphatic win in September, and they also started in front of the watchful gaze of interim first team manager Wayne Rooney.
It didn't take long for the returning Dack to have an impact on the contest, with the talisman involved in a superb team move as the visitors opened the scoring after just nine minutes.
The playmaker fed Dolan on the right flank, and after his low cross was flicked on by Butterworth, Lyons confidently swept into the bottom corner from just inside the box.
Derby responded well though and worked an equaliser just eight minutes later.
It was one of the first teamers who got it, with Sibley getting on the end of a pass from the left and lashing past Stergiakis, despite the Greek getting a touch on the effort.
Rovers ended the first half the stronger, with Chapman's volley being well held by George Sykes-Kenworthy with only a few minutes remaining.
A double substitution saw Dack and Butterworth replaced by Connor McBride and trialist Nolan.
And both sides came flying out of the traps early into the second half, with a goal apiece coming inside the opening five minutes.
With the first attack after the break, Chapman cut in from the left before unleashing a low drive that flew into the bottom corner on 48 minutes.
However, the hosts raced up the other end to equalise for the second time in the game, with Sibley completing his brace with a deflected attempt that gave Stergiakis no chance.
Sibley was the man in the spotlight for the Rams on the hour, with a second yellow card, and subsequent red, denying the youngster of a chance for a hat-trick.
Following another challenge on Thompson, the match referee had no choice but to hand the playmaker his marching orders on the hour mark.
But more drama was to come seven minutes later when the hosts were awarded a penalty.
It looked harsh, with Davenport adjudged to have fouled a County player in the box, and up stepped Hector-Ingram to thump the spot kick into the roof of the net.
That goal put Rovers 3-2 down, but Billy Barr's boys were level once again just seconds later through Chapman's second of the night.
Played through almost straight from the kick-off, the winger cut in from the left again to confidently slot under Sykes-Kenworthy and in.
The action didn't stop there though, as Nolan scored from close range to turn the score around and put Rovers back in command with 20 minutes remaining.
Rovers calmed things down for the remainder of the game, but were thankful to Stergiakis late on to beat away a strike and ensure the final few minutes weren't as nervy as they could have been.
The result moves Rovers up to second place in Premier League 2 Division 1, just one point behind league leaders Chelsea.
Derby County Under-23s: Sykes-Kenworthy, McDonald (Bateman, 69), Brown, Bird (c), Evans, Brown, Whittaker, Watson, Hector-Ingram, Sibley, Ibe (Duncan, 74).
Unused substitutes: Yates, Wilson, Hutchinson.
Goals: Sibley, 17, 50, Hector-Ingram pen, 67.
Booked: Sibley, 20, 60, Brown, 30, Watson, 58
Sent off: Sibley, 60.
Rovers Under-23s: Stergiakis, Whitehall (Pike, 57), Carter, Annesley, Thompson, Davenport, Lyons, Dack (Nolan, 46), Chapman, Dolan, Butterworth (McBride, 46).
Unused substitutes: Hilton, Burns.
Goals: Lyons, 9, Chapman, 48, 68, Nolan, 70, Dolan, 85.
Booked: Butterworth, 10.