Derby County 4 Brighton 1 match report: Steve McClaren eyes return to the big time as bold Derby rain on Brighton’s parade
Sunday 11 May 2014
Steve McClaren will probably have to contend with that image of him holding an umbrella, powerless to stop the dreams of the nation dying around him as England lost to Croatia in November 2007, for the rest of his life.
But he will return to Wembley in two weeks for the first time as a manager since that infamous night with his reputation emphatically restored.
He stands on the brink of leading Derby County back to the Premier League after a whirlwind seven months.
Goals from Will Hughes, Chris Martin, George Thorne and Jeff Hendrick completed a performance of such style and verve, the winner of Queen’s Park Rangers and Wigan Athletic will not want to face them. “We look a damn good side,” said McClaren. “We deserve this, we felt we were good enough to get to the final. It was the perfect performance.
“I’ve been back a few times to Wembley in the stands and will be back for the cup final on Saturday. But for the play-off final, I won’t be taking a bloody brolly I know that. It won’t be like it was last time, it will be completely different.”
A sixth straight win on home soil was never in doubt from the moment Hughes opened the scoring with a classy back-heeled finish 35 minutes into this second leg after Derby had ground out a 2-1 win at the Amex Stadium in Thursday’s first leg.
Where they earned their fortune on the south coast, there was no need for it in the East Midlands as they passed poor Brighton off the park.
Hughes’ cheeky effort from Craig Forsyth’s cross settled the nerves and Brighton were never able to respond. Indeed, the second half was a procession.
Martin buried his 25th of the campaign after reacting quicker than the visiting defence, minus Gordon Greer who had picked up a hamstring strain, to meet Jamie Ward’s header down from Johnny Russell’s cross.
Goal number three was to follow on 77 minutes as Thorne, the on-loan West Bromwich midfielder, emphatically volleyed in from the edge of the area after Simon Dawkins’ shot had deflected into his path.
Jeff Hendrick went on to score number four three minutes from the end after starting and finishing a move that also involved Patrick Bamford.
Kazenga LuaLua was to get one back a minute from time finishing from Inigo Calderon’s cross but there was to be no dampening the mood of Derby’s fans who carried off their heroes after invading the pitch at the end as McClaren’s return to the big time gathers pace.
“They were much better than us,” admitted Brighton manager Oscar Garcia. “I don’t want to look for excuses, they deserve to be in the final.
“It has been a fantastic season for us and not many people thought we could reach the play offs.”
Derby County (4-3-3): Grant ; Wisdom , Keogh, Buxton, Forsyth; Hendrick, Thorne, Hughes (Eustace 84); Russell (Bamford 79), Martin Ward (Dawkins 67). Subs not used: Legzdins, Naylor, Sammon, Whitbread. Booked: Hendrick.
Brighton and Hove Albion (4-3-3): Kuszczak; Calderon, Dunk, Greer (Chicksen 24), Ward; Orlandi (Mackail-Smith 58), Andrews, Ince; Buckley (Lua-Lua 57), Ulloa, Lingard. Subs not used: Brezovan, Agustein , Forster-Caskey, March. Booked: Dunk, Chicksen.
Referee: C Pawson.
Latest in Sport
What time does Floyd Mayweather vs Manny Pacquiao begin and what channel is it on?
Floyd Mayweather vs Manny Pacquiao live: Mayweather puts on defensive masterclass to win by unanimous decision
What time does Floyd Mayweather vs Manny Pacquiao begin on Sky Sports Box Office?
Floyd Mayweather vs Manny Pacquiao: What time does the fight start and what channel is it on?
Floyd Mayweather vs Manny Pacquiao: Only 132 pubs in the United Kingdom will show the fight - so where can you watch it?
- 1 Which country would be hardest to invade?
- 3 The man who filmed the Freddie Gray video has been arrested at gunpoint
- 4 How the language you speak changes your view of the world
Over 50,000 families shipped out of London boroughs in the past three years due to welfare cuts and soaring rents
EU asylum policy is 'a direct threat to our civilisation', says Nigel Farage
Indonesia executions live: 'Hysterical' families heard prisoners being shot dead by firing squad
The Rothschild Libel: Why has it taken 200 years for an anti-Semitic slur that emerged from the Battle of Waterloo to be dismissed?
General Election 2015: SNP and its activists 'openly racist' towards the English, Farage says
EU exit would hit UK economy much harder than neighbouring countries, study finds