Derby County produced a determined comeback to record an invaluable away victory over Brighton and Hove Albion in the first-leg of their Championship play-off semi-final.
The hosts took an early lead after a dominant opening 20 minutes when Jesse Lingard fired his side in front from 10 yards.
And on the stroke of half-time Derby edged in front with more than a hint of good fortune when Martin struck a powerful shot from the edge of the box which canoned off the crossbar and struck Tomasz Kuszczak on the back and into the net.
Brighton threw men forward in attack in the second-half in search of an equaliser but Derby held strong to take a vital one goal lead into the second-leg.
9’ - PENALTY APPEAL! But the referee waves play on and rightly so. Calderon falls under a tackle and the Brighton faithful are sure that's a foul. It's a tough call but the referee has made the correct decision.
16' - FREE-KICK? Another big decision for the referee to make as Lingard falls under Hendrick at the edge of the area but play is waved on.
18’ - GOAL! (Brighton and Hove Albion 1-0 Derby): The home side have a deserved goal! Lingard latches onto a squared Calderon pass, his first shot is blocked but the ball falls kindly to him and he makes the most of the opportunity, smashing into the back of the net!
19' - CHANCE! Derby almost make an instant comeback as Russell delivers a wonderful free-kick towards the back post but Upson just cannot get his head onto the ball!
27' - PENALTY TO DERBY! Forsyth is hauled down by a clumsy, silly tackle by Upson. Nowhere near the ball, stonewall penalty.
29’ - GOAL! (Brighton and Hove Albion 1-1 Derby): Martin scores his 21st goal of the season with a cool, cool penalty. Game on!
45+2’ - GOAL! (Brighton and Hove Albion 1-2 Derby): Derby have the lead! Oh, so cruel! Hendrick's attempted shot falls at the feet of Russell who lays on Martin who fires the ball at goal from the edge of the area, the ball smacks off the crossbar and then off the back of Kuszczak and into the net!
61' - WHAT A SAVE! Orlandi produces a wonderful cross, the ball falls to Ulloa who mis-hits his shot but still manages to get the ball on target and Grant makes a terrific stop to push the ball onto the crossbar!
79' - DOUBLE SAVE! Lingard is given tons of space in the middle of the park, he unleashes a well struck shot straight at Grant who makes a decent save, the rebound falls to Ward who strikes from outside the box but Grant recovers well to make another stop!
Derby County have now recorded three victories over Brighton and Hove Albion this season.
Chris Martin scored his 21st goal of the season with a cool first-half penalty.
Derby County have now scored 86 goals in the Championship this season.
Brighton and Hove Albion suffered their first defeat in eight games.
Will Brighton pay for their missed opportunities? The home side would have wanted a positive result to bring to Derby's home patch in the second-leg. They now face an uphill challenge against a strong and dangerous Steve McClaren side.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Chris Martin (Derby County): The striker has caused so many teams problems throughout the season and he always looked dangerous tonight. He coolly put away his penalty to level the scores and had a big part to play in his team's second goal.
Brighton and Hove Albion: Kuszczak 6, Calderon 7, Greer 6, Upson 5, Ward 5, Andrews 6, Forster-Caskey 5, Lingard 7, Orland 5i, Ulloa 6, Buckley 6. Substitutes: March 7, LuaLua 8, Mackail-Smith 6.
Derby County: Grant 8, Wisdom 7, Keogh 7, Buxton 6, Forsyth 7, Thorne 6, Bryson 6, Hendric 7, Russell 8, Ward 8, Martin 9. Substitutes: Hughes 6, Dawkins 6, Sammon 7.
MATCH IN A TWEET
- Sports & Recreation
- Derby County
- Brighton and Hove Albion
- Chris Martin
- Jesse Lingard