Brighton & Hove Albion 1 Derby County 2
By Tim Hodges from the Amex
The Seagulls lost their third game in a row under Oscar Garcia as Coldplay namesake Chris Martin scored a brace for Derby.
The game started rather slowly although it soon became apparent that the Rams had one or two very quick players in their ranks.
Full back Craig Forsyth was testing Albion’s David Lopez and Gordon Greer with his overlapping runs.
No real chances occurred until Albion’s own marauding full back Inigo Calderon whipped in a cross which Albion’s Argentinian forward Leo Ulloa powered home with a superb diving header to put the Seagulls 1-0 up after 17 minutes.
Albion appeared to sit back on their lead a little and just ten minutes later Martin wriggled through the Albion defence, a little like Danny Crow did on Tuesday night for Newport,. The Derby forward poked his shot past a static looking Tomasz Kuszczak for 1-1.
Kuszczak looked a little out of sorts. His kicking was woeful at times and on more than one occasion he had to scrabble around after dropping a cross.
Albion’s best chance of going back in front before half-time came from David Lopez. The midfielder hit a free kick from the edge of the D and the ball appeared to hit Derby captain Richard Keogh square on the arm. Referee Andy D’Urso waved play on, then the ball hit the hapless Essex referee on the back and deflected Rohan Ince’s goal-bound shot into the arms of Derby keeper Lee Grant.
The teams went in all square at half time as new Albion ambassador Alan Mullery was introduced to the Amex crowd.
As the teams emerged for the second half three things were noticeable. Derby came out as one unit and looked prepared. The Albion came out in dribs and drab. And the referee had to wait while the remainder of the players including David Lopez and Kemy Agustien made their way on to the pitch.
As he made his way to the south stand goal Kuszczak dropped his water bottle. Two minutes later he was picking the ball out of his net. Kieron Freeman waltzed past Albion debutant Vitalijs Maksimenko and crossed in for Martin. Kuszczak started to come out but was too slow and Martin steered the ball past him to put Derby 2-1 in front.
Albion took a while to mount a challenge to try to restore parity. The closest that they got was Ulloa’s powerful header from around the penalty spot which hit the inside of the post.
Kazenga LuaLua and Solly March were introduced. Buckley found himself one on one with Grant but, with no support for the Albion midfielder, Grant parried his tight angled shot.
Agustien and Matthew Upson both came close for Albion, Upson’s deft header just dropping wide.
Before the end there was a bizarre moment. The assistant referee Ian Crouch raced on to the pitch to control an incident between Leo Ulloa and Will Hughes. The referee appeared to keep his distance then, after a long conversation with his assistant, D’Urso called both Hughes and Ulloa to him, again consulted his linesman, then just showed Ulloa a yellow card.
Albion continued to press Derby until the end but couldn’t find the breakthrough. The Albion will now travel to Birmingham next Saturday (17 August) in a fixture that proves there is no respite in the Championship.
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