We already knew it was going to the last game of the season, but we now know that only a Brighton win would be good enough to secure promotion to the top flight of English football, for the first time since 1983. It was after a stoppage time equaliser from James Wilson salvaged a point against a resilient Derby side, who were determined not to lose the game, setting them in bad stead for the upcoming play-off games with Hull. With Burnley winning yesterday evening and securing a return the Premier League at the first time of asking, it’s a straight out dog fight between Middlesbrough and Brighton for the remaining promotion place, with Middlesbrough going up with a win or draw, and Brighton going up with a win only.
Beram Kayal was first to have a chance in the game, when he picked up a loose ball from Johnny Russell, his deflected shot whistled just wide of Scott Carson’s post. Carson was at the centre of the next chance, when his quick releasing ball sent Craig Bryson away down the wing, and after hitting a first time cross-pitch pass to Tom Ince, the latter hit his shot into the side netting. Anthony Knockaert was lively, and had an absolute glorious chance to give Albion the lead, when his curling free-kick was blocked on the line by Jason Shackell, who had tracked back from the wall; Carson was rooted to the spot. As half-time approached, Lewis Dunk had a header deflected wide from a Jiri Skalak corner, which looked certain to nestle in the corner of the net. After little chances in the opening 25 minutes of the second half, it sprung into life when sub Andreas Weimann struck for the Rams no less than 2 minutes after coming on. Will Hughes lobbed the ball over Connor Goldson, and sent Weimann through, although his initial effort was saved by David Stockdale, the rebound fell kindly for him and tucked it away in the corner; it was no more than what they deserved to be honest, they looked far more dangerous than Brighton did in the second half. Things went from bad to worse for the Seagulls, when Dunk was given his marching orders after receiving a second yellow for a reckless challenge on Bryson. It was his second red of the season after being sent off at QPR in December. Just like that game, he will not be avaliable for the Middlesbrough game which follows. However, it wasn’t all drab as sub Wilson popped up in the Derby box in the 95th minute to volley home an equaliser, after a corner wasn’t cleared properly by Derby. The goal itself doesn’t matter, as it still means Brighton must win to go up, but it gives the players a confidence boost with them knowing they won’t give up until the end.
Stockdale (6); No real saves to make, couldn’t react in time to save Weimann’s follow-up which he maybe dissapointed in.
Bruno (6); Tough game for the captain, who looks set to relinquish the armband on Saturday. Not much joy on the offensive side, and had to work hard to stop Russell getting the better of him.
Goldson (7); One of the best players on the pitch; looked confident and handled Chris Martin well (can’t recall him having a shot)
Dunk (5); He knows he has screwed up big time, but it’s most certainly not the time to be criticizing anyone. He look relatively untroubled for most of the afternoon, but two poor challenges has brough back ther Dunk from 5 months ago.
Rosenior (6); Like Bruno, he rarely had the chance to go forward, especially when marking a tricky customer like Ince.
Knockaert (7); A certain goal saved on the line, and numerous half-chances prove that he is a Premier League player in waiting, if not with us then with someone else, as he it far too good to be playing Championship football next season.
Kayal (6); Hard battles in midfield when playing against 3 centre midfielders, but did well enough to not let them settle into the game.
Stephens (6); Seemed to struggle at the start of the game, but grew into it and made it difficult for Derby to have time on the ball.
Skalak (6); A quiet game for him; rarely had the ball and when he did he couldn’t make the magic happen.
Baldock/ Hemed (5); Hard to mark the strikers down when they haven’t had anything to do, but they whole idea of playing 2 upfront if for them to work together, which they didn’t. When 1 was in the game the other was out of it, and it made it difficult for supporting midfielders to contribute to the attacks.
Wilson (6); Cahnged the dynamic of the game when he came on, work across with Hemed, which Baldock didn’t and got the late equaliser.
LuaLua (5); Not much for him to do, had a couple good dribbles but nothing to really excite the crowd.
BHAFC - DCFC; Wilson (90+5); Weimann (71);
Att; 30,292 (New AMEX Record)