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
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'
filmReview: A week late, Secret Cinema arrives as interactive screening goes Back to the Future
Travel
travel
Arts and Entertainment
Sydney and Melbourne are locked in a row over giant milk crates
artCultural relations between Sydney and Melbourne soured by row over milk crate art instillation
Arts and Entertainment
Adèle Exarchopoulos and Léa Seydoux play teeneage lovers in the French erotic drama 'Blue Is The Warmest Colour' - The survey found four times as many women admitting to same-sex experiences than 20 years ago
filmBlue Is The Warmest Colour, Bojack Horseman and Hobbit on the way
Arts and Entertainment
Preparations begin for Edinburgh Festival 2014
Edinburgh festivalAll the best shows to see at Edinburgh this year
News
Two giraffes pictured on Garsfontein Road, Centurion, South Africa.
i100
News
Kenny Ireland, pictured in 2010.
peopleBenidorm, actor was just 68
Environment
View from the Llanberis Track to the mountain lake Llyn
Du’r Arddu
environmentA large chunk of Mount Snowdon, in north Wales, is up for sale
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
News
Morrissey pictured in 2013
people
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

Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

The dining car makes a comeback

Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

Gallery rage

How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

Eye on the prize

Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

Women's rugby

Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup
Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices