Brighton 1 Derby 2 (Report)
8/5/14 - 7:45pm
Brighton will once again have to do it the hard way if we're to make it into the Championship play off final having lost the first leg to Derby at the Amex on Thursday.
All of this after we'd taken the lead but a turnaround saw them win 2-1 in the end.
There wasn't anything cagey about this game, so often the case with a play off semi final.
It all started so well for us when Andrea Orlandi and Will Buckley linked up to put in Inigo Calderon. At the end of his run to the deadball line he cut the ball back to Jesse Lingard and even though it took two attempts he fired in his latest goal to put us ahead.
Albion could have had at least one penalty with both Calderon and Leo Ulloa challenged in the area, which could have been given, but nothing came our way.
Derby then turned the game around just before half time, the second goal literally on half time.
First of all Matt Upson, completely out of character for such a key performer this season, hauled down Craig Forsyth in the penalty area to give Derby the chance to draw level. Chris Martin, the Derby top goalscorer, duly obliged.
Still attacking, looking to restore the lead, Ulloa had a header that forced a good save from Lee Grant.
Tomasz Kuszczak had to be on hand, quite literally, as he palmed away Johnny Russell's cross with Martin preparing to put the finishing touches to it. Craig Bryson then went close with another effort.
Russell and Martin combined for Martin to smash an effort against the frame of the goal but instead of coming away to safety the ball rebounded off the back of Kuszczak and into the back off the net.
The Albion goalkeeper was at fault for Nottingham Forest's goal last weekend but this was one he was faultless with and very unlucky with.
Grant would be the barrier between us and an equaliser in the second half.
Ulloa, denied in the first half, was denied again by Grant as his volley was tipped onto the bar but unlike Derby's goal there was no rebound in off the goalkeeper for us.
Had it not been for Grant we would have gone into the second leg level, at least.
We were thwarted at least twice more by Grant, most notably Manchester United loanee Lingard and then Kazenga LuaLua, who had come off the bench so it was little surprise that Grant was named Man of the Match.
Advantage to Derby going into Sunday's second leg but it's not over.
The attacking ability we have, and can show, gives me encouragement but Derby could score at anytime.
We'll have to be patient at the iPro Stadium but this tie isn't over and we've shown we don't give up so as much as a cleansheet would be enough to put Grant, and Derby through, I'm not giving up on this one yet.
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