Everyone rise to the newest record holders of The Championship. Brighton’s 20 games unbeaten at the start of a season has set a new record, eclipsing Tuesday opponents QPR’s previous record of 19, whilst extending their unbeaten run to 21 overall. They had to dig deep in an away game where they have had little joy in recent times, which have included 3-0 and 4-1 defeats in the previous 2 visits.
Brighton could of found themselves 1-0 down inside the 1st minute after some slick play from Chris Martin and Tom Ince allowed the former to have a shot at goal, although it was off target, it was a very early warning sign that Derby weren’t going to back off easily. A few minutes later Derby had a glorious chance to take the lead, when a Jacob Butterfield free-kick was whipped into the box and found the head of George Thorne; his header certain to go in if only a acrobatic clearance from Tomer Hemed hadn’t of intervened. The next big chance was taken, although it was against the run of play; Inigo Calderon picked the pocket of Ince and found Jamie Murphy free down the left wing, and his delightful cross to the box was met with a flying volley by loanee James Wilson, who wheeled away in celebration. Solly March was taken off just 5 minutes later after injuring his knee, where earlier in the game he had landed on it quite awkwardly. Derby threatened to grab an equaliser before the break; a long range goal-bound effort from Thorne was saved by Stockdale at full stretch, before being cleared away by the defence. They did get the equaliser though when another Butterfield cross, this time from a corner, was met by the head of Bradley Johnson, who powered home the header to give Stockdale no chance of saving it. Johnson had a wonderful chance to give Derby the lead just before the whistle too, when a great one-two with Martin allowed him to have a shot on the edge of the box, but he couldn’t find the target as it drifted wide. After some half-chances in the second half from Derby they were made to pay, when Brighton regained the lead; Beram Kayal won the ball in the centre of the pitch, and set Wilson onwards, his pass to Hemed wasn’t the greatest but it somehow managed to find it’s way to Dale Stephens, who put Rajiv van La Parra through on goal and took his chance superbly, when he rocketed his shot into the roof of Lee Grant’s net. Johnny Russell had the next chance for the Rams, when some bad defending from Gordon Greer allowed him to burst towards the Albion goal, but his shot was well saved by Stockdale and tipped behind for a corner. Another chance for Derby late on when a dreadful backpass from Rohan Ince allowed Martin through on goal, he managed to beat Stockdale but Tom Ince, on the follow up after Martin had been decked, couldn’t find the target as Lewis Dunk intervened at the crucial moment to send his goal-bound shot over the bar and out for a corner. From thew resulting corner, the ball had been partially cleared from a Stockdale punch, but only as far as Russell, and as he drove into the box, a flying slide tackle from Greer fouled his fellow Scotsman and referee Lee Mason pointed to the spot. It was debatable, some referee’s wouldn’t of given it, but some would; either way Martin dispatched the spot kick to the right of Stockdale to equalise for the second time in the game and share the spoils.
Stockdale (7); Was kept busy throughout the game, but other than Johnson’s long range effort and Russell’s chance nothing bothered him too much. No chance stopping Johnson’s header, and very unlucky not to get to Martin’s penalty.
Bruno (7); The ever-present defender had a good game, did well when defending against Tom Ince and Andreas Weimann, but also caused some problems for Stephen Warnock when attacking.
Greer (6); Some feel it was harsh, but some feel it was the correct decision, but no matter the opinion, an experienced defender such as himself should know better than to slide in wildly in the box late on in a game. Other than that wild moment, he had had a pretty sturdy game.
Dunk (7); Some great defending from the young centre-back, especially as he has been given stick in the last few games. Didn’t let Martin have his own way for most of the match and his sliding tackle on Ince should of been a game winning tackle, but was all in vain.
Calderon (7); Picked Ince’s pocket to send Murphy down the wing to set up the 1st goal. Was required to do more defending than attacking, especially in the 2nd half, but contained Ince and Weimann well.
Murphy (7); An excellent cross from the Scotsman to Wilson. Was required to do more defensive work than attacking, which restricted his motive to go attacking Cyruis Christie, especially as he had him beat a majority of the time.
Kayal (7); It seemed like for the first time this season, him and Stephens looked beat in the middle of the park, whether it’s because Derby had 3 good central midfielders and overpowered them, or they just had an off day.
Stephens (7); As above, looked beat in the middle of the pitch, but he did provide the assist to La Parra.
March (6); Landed awkwardly on his knee inside the first 10 minutes, and never fully recovered; taken off after 27 mins
Hemed (7); Is slowly starting to become the player we saw at the start of the season, his off the ball movement was brilliant, and although there was a fair bit of luck in the pass, the ball to Stephens helped set up the 2nd goal.
Wilson (8); Can see him becoming a fan favourite, if he isn’t already. 2 goals in 3 games can only be a good thing, and I suspect there is more to come from him, if Manchester United don’t decide to re-call him early.
La Parra (8); First Albion goal after replacing March. Warnock did struggle with the winger during the first half, but got the better of him in the second, although he did leave La Parra open for him to receive the ball from Stephens.
Zamora (6); He was hoping to add more misery to Derby faces, and almost did when a chance he had was blocked by a Richard Keogh and out for a corner.
Ince (3); It might be harsh to give him such a low score, given he hasn’t had too much playing time, but the back pass was totally horrific, and ended up costing us 3 points. Not what you want from your sub who is there to see out the game
Derby - Brighton; Johnson (41), Martin (88 pen); Wilson (22), La Parra (75)
Att; 30,537 (1311 Brighton)