Brighton 1 Derby County 2 match report: Chris Martin steers Derby step closer to Premier League

Striker has a hand in both goals as Rams take control of Championship play-off semi-final

the amex stadium

Derby County have one foot firmly in the Championship play-off final at Wembley on 24 May after completing a hat-trick of victories this season over Brighton & Hove Albion.

They beat the Seagulls home and away on their way to third place in the table and will be confident of completing the job at the iPro Stadium on Sunday evening.

Steve McClaren's side overcame the shock of conceding an early goal to dominate the opening half of this play-off semi-final first leg with their pace and control on the break.

Chris Martin levelled with his 21st goal of the season – his third against Brighton – from the penalty spot, and it was Martin's shot that deflected in off the unlucky Brighton goalkeeper Tomasz Kuszczak to give Derby the lead.

When Brighton tried to strike back in the second half, Derby goalkeeper Lee Grant kept out everything they could throw at him.

It was Brighton's first defeat in nine games and they will need to produce the sort of performance on Sunday that brought them nine league wins on the road this season, including three-point hauls at champions Leicester and one of the other play-off semi-finalists Wigan.

They had looked dangerous early on whenever Will Buckley was in possession and he opened the way for Brighton to take the lead after 18 minutes when his flick allowed right-back Inigo Calderon to set up Jesse Lingard. The Manchester United loanee's first shot was blocked but he thrashed his second past Grant from 10 yards.

But Derby were level after 28 minutes when one of a number of quick breaks ended with left-back Craig Forsyth charging into the heart of the Brighton defence. Matthew Upson's challenge was nowhere near the ball and Martin, who scored twice in Derby's 2-1 win at the Amex in August, converted the penalty.

This should have been a warning to Brighton that Derby's pace was going to be a danger on the counter-attack, but it seemed to go unheeded. Johnny Russell and Craig Bryson both went close after pouncing on misplaced passes by Brighton players and speeding clear of defenders.

The momentum was now firmly with Derby and it came as no surprise when they took the lead in first-half injury time, although there was an element of fortune about the goal.

A quickfire burst of passing had Brighton chasing shadows, and Martin was unchallenged as he unleashed a fierce rising shot that beat Kuszczak and crashed against the crossbar. However, when the ball came back into play it hit the prone goalkeeper on the back and rebounded into the net.

Brighton needed to regain the initiative, and they introduced winger Kazenga LuaLua at the interval in an attempt to force Derby back, but Calderon put a decent chance into row Z and Leo Ulloa's bouncing, goal-bound shot was fingertipped on to the crossbar and to safety by Grant.

The Derby goalkeeper bettered that 10 minutes from time to touch over Stephen Ward's 20-yarder for a corner seconds after he had pushed aside a long-range effort by Lingard. Brighton need to do better than that on Sunday.

Uwe Rösler refuses to play mind games with QPR

Wigan manager Uwe Rösler is not prepared to engage in "pressure bingo" before his team's meeting with Queen's Park Rangers, as two of last season's relegated sides bid to return to the Premier League.

The Derby manager, Steve McClaren, stressed it was a "must" for two clubs playing in the top flight last year to achieve promotion.

But Rösler, before Friday night's semi-final first leg, said: "What we have now is pressure bingo. I'm not going in that direction. But when [QPR boss] Harry Redknapp says we are the clear favourites for promotion, then I have to smile a little bit.

"Harry said we have the best squad – I think we have a very good squad – but Harry has probably a three times bigger wage budget than we have."

Second leg dates

Sunday Derby v Brighton (5.15)

Monday QPR v Wigan (7.45)

Final Sat 24 May (Wembley)

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
tv
News
Prince Harry is clearing enjoying the Commonwealth Games judging by this photo
people(a real one this time)
News
Gardai wait for the naked man, who had gone for a skinny dip in Belfast Lough
newsTwo skinny dippers threatened with inclusion on sex offenders’ register as naturists criminalised
News
Your picture is everything in the shallow world of online dating
i100
Life and Style
Attractive women on the Internet: not a myth
techOkCupid boasts about Facebook-style experiments on users
Sport
Van Gaal said that his challenge in taking over Bobby Robson's Barcelona team in 1993 has been easier than the task of resurrecting the current United side
football
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them altogether

Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them

Jonathon Porritt sounds the alarm
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on