Seagulls Swoop to Punish Rams
Pride Park Stadium
Tuesday night at Pride Park saw Derby County taking on Brighton & Hove Albion in a match between two of the Championship`s early season pacesetters, both of whom have slipped down the table in recent weeks. Derby, in particular, have been on a very poor run, winning just one of their nine games before the Brighton clash.
A lively start by the home side saw on-loan striker Tamas Priskin trouble the Seagulls` defence on more than one occasion in the first ten minutes, but, true to recent form, The Rams soon contrived to concede a sloppy goal when there should have been little danger, Gareth Roberts getting caught out of position, enabling a right-wing attack to develop quickly from the half-way line. Although the cross was half cleared, the ball fell conveniently to Brighton`s top scorer Craig Mackail-Smith, who crashed it home from the edge of the box.
Derby continued to press, and a number of goalmouth scrambles followed, with Priskin and Craig Bryson both being unlucky not to get on the end of dangerous crosses, and the Hungarian striker having a shot cleared off the line. Brighton, however, showed little ambition going forward, contenting themselves with soaking up pressure and indulging in some crafty time-wasting tactics from a very early stage, much to the fury of most of those in a rather disappointing crowd, which barely exceeded the 22 000 mark.
Half Time - Derby 0:1 Brighton.
The second half continued in much the same vein, with Derby making increasingly frenzied attempts to find the equalising goal and avoid a depressing fifth consecutive defeat. Although the away side did manage to carve out one great chance, which their striker wasted by sending a wild shot out for a throw in on the far side, it was generally The Rams who were creating, and missing, the chances.
Some ominous rumblings came from the crowd with twenty minutes left, apparently questioning the wisdom of taking off Priskin and replacing him with Callum Ball. To be honest, however, the on-loan Ipswich man was clearly tiring, and Ball, together with youngster Mason Bennett - who joined him up front minutes later, replacing a very quiet Ben Davies - posed considerable problems for the Brighton defenders, being unfortunate not to send Derby level with a goalbound effort which hit a defender on the line. Bennett , who otherwise continued to contribute at a level far beyond his tender years, had a couple of decent chances which he failed to convert, and Ball then fired into the side netting, as Derby finally ran out of time.
Overall, The Rams can be pleased with their performance, if not the result, sentiments which manager Nigel Clough was keen to emphasise in his post-match comments, while supporters were pleased to see Shaun Barker, James Bailey and Paul Green continue on their respective comeback trails. Nevertheless, with five defeats in a row and only six points gained out of the last possible thirty, Clough`s side desperately need a win. Three points at Crystal Palace on Friday night would be a most welcome early Christmas present.
Full time - Derby 0:1 Brighton.
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