Derby County 2 : Brighton & Hove Albion 2 – 12th December 2015

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I think at the end of the season this will be seen as a pretty decent result. We just about deserved the draw at the end of the day & you can’t sniff at a point against a team who are still unbeaten & are probably heading for automatic promotion. We got back into the game twice, against the best side we’ve come up against this season, a team who knew how to play against us & frustrate us. We would have collapsed in the face of that last season. We’re still in touching distance of the leaders, have picked up 8 points from 12 from a difficult run of 4 games & have been unbeaten since the Forest debacle. There you go – I’ve been positive.

I’ve been following the usual Twitter debates swirling around since the game ended &, as per normal, they range from the happy-clappy faction to the moaner brigade, each having digs at each other for either being too positive or too negative. I suppose I’m somewhere in the middle of this unimportant discussion. Yes, it was a good result in the circumstances but I reckon we’ve we’ve got to be a bit concerned about our flat performance in that 2nd half. And the general ponderous nature of our midfield trio throughout . We didn’t play to our potential for sure.

The team news, an unchanged side, was no surprise, so the only selection discussion of interest was whether or not Oh Bobby Zamora would be starting for Brighton. He wasn’t, he was on the bench. I think we had enough to worry about with Wilson to be honest.

Let’s not forget the commendable flag show before the game. A fine sight to behold indeed, even though it’s not yet quite yet reached the high standards of The Yellow Wall or ahem… The Rookery End yet. Still, we’ve come a long way. I’m looking forward to seeing everyone waving their free cups of coffee around before the Bristol game.

Anyway, I digress.. How was the game? It wasn’t necessarily end to end stuff but it was evenly matched & very competitive. Brighton looked organised, confident on the ball, pacy & dangerous on the break. We were resilient & pressed Brighton well, if a little ineffective in midfield. Butterfield was more like the player who started his Derby career so hesitantly, Thorne wasn’t completely on his game & Johnson was completely all over the shop. We probably had the better of the game before Wilson (hold on, wasn’t he going to sign on loan for us a few months ago..?) scored from an incisive break.  It sure who to blame for that, Ince lost the ball in midfield, Christie & Thorne were a bit slow to deal with Murphy’s cross. I suppose you have to give Brighton credit for a great goal.

To our credit we didn’t fall apart after that & Johnson powered in a header from a splendid corner from Butterfield. Redemption for Johnson perhaps but apart from a rather languid long range strike shortly after his goal, he continued to be off his game. 1-1 at half time was about right but we had a feeling of positivity for the 2nd half.

We were to be disappointed. The game developed into a slightly tetchy, cautious, tactical stalemate, with Brighton seemingly content with holding out behind those 2 banks of 4 for a draw & Derby struggling to find that control & creativity required in midfield to break down them down. Annoyingly, Brighton began to run through the gamut of timewasting options – players collapsing as if mortally injured (before being resurrected & trotting off as if nothing had happened), languidly taken goal kicks & even a bout of slow motion shoelace tying. It did them no credit.

After the hour we had a reasonable shout for a penalty turned down when Weimann crossed & Dunk handballed it but either the ref didn’t see it or he didn’t think it was deliberate. He was wrong either way & didn’t have the best of games.

Brighton took the lead again after 75 minutes, again demonstrating how potent they were on the break. Johnson lost possession poorly in the centre of the pitch, the ball was moved quickly to La Parra & he finished well.

Again, too our credit, we fought back & pushed for an equaliser. It came a few minutes from the end courtesy of a courageously (& adroitly) taken penalty by our captain. Some have questioned the penalty award as Russell had already crossed the ball before being fouled. But the ref was right this time. A foul is a foul.

So, there you go. A point from a difficult game. I think Clement might want to change things around in central midfield for the Bristol game. I’d expect Hendrick to come in for Butterfield but Johnson probably merits a drop to the bench. Won’t happen though. Maybe Russell will come in for Weimann. Apart from that, I can’t see anyone being rested or rotated, despite what some fans are saying.

Mr Flappy generally had a solid game but he did look a bit dodgy on crosses. No change there then. Let’s hope Carson’s injury heals quickly & Clement has the guts to stick him back in. Warnock had another good game. Keogh & Shackell were immense again. Despite again having a frustrating time on the right (ON HIS WRONG FOOT STILL!!!!!!) Ince worked hard & probably would have scored a couple on a another day. I reckon he’ll score in the Bristol game. It was good to see Martin score, he didn’t have a brilliant game but worked hard & held the ball up well. Like a lot of fans, I was hardly able to watch him strike that penalty. He showed some guts, to be sure. Bent? He looked like a player who’s been stuck on the bench all season.

Anyway, on to the Bristol game & that free cup of coffee.

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