Brighton and Hove Albion 1 - 2 Derby County

Match info: Championship at Amex Stadium

Date: 08/05/2014 KO: 19:45 Ref: Att: 27,118

Home team/scorers Scores Away team/scorers

Brighton

Jesse Lingard 18

1
vs
2

Derby

Chris Martin 29 (pen)
Tomasz Kuszczak 45+2 (og)

FT (ht: 1-2)

  • Last Updated: May 8 2014, 22:49 BST

Post-match reaction to Derby's 2-1 victory over Brighton.

McClaren saw his players show plenty of character at Brighton
McClaren saw his players show plenty of character at Brighton

Steve McClaren was grateful for big performances from both ends of the pitch after his Derby side beat Brighton 2-1 in the first leg of their Championship play-off final.

The Rams were trailing to Jesse Lingard's early strike but top scorer Chris Martin levelled from the penalty spot for his 24th goal of the season.

The striker then saw his long-range effort come back off the crossbar and bounce in off the back of luckless Seagulls goalkeeper Tomasz Kuszczak in first-half stoppage time.

Brighton pushed hard for an equaliser in the second half but Rams keeper Lee Grant stepped up to the plate with stunning saves from Leonardo Ulloa and Stephen Ward to ensure County take a slender lead back to the iPro for the second leg on Sunday.

It means McClaren is now 90 minutes from a return to Wembley for the first time since his tenure as England manager came to a sad and soggy end under an umbrella in 2007.

The Rams boss said: "That game had everything. You saw every side of Derby.

"We started badly, they started well, but we showed great character to come back and could have had a couple more.

"Chris is our top scorer, he's vital to our build-up and our football. He was very effective, he scored the penalty and then hit a great strike to put us ahead.

"But then we allowed them to put too much pressure on and we are indebted to our defence and our goalkeeper.

"Defining moments come at one end or the other and Granty has been fantastic, making important saves all season."

Seagulls chief Oscar Garcia had no complaints about Derby's penalty, awarded after a clumsy foul by former England defender Matt Upson on Craig Forsyth.

But he was unhappy with referee Roger East's decision not to award his side at least one spot-kick after Inigo Calderon and Ulloa were both sent tumbling in the area.

"It was totally unfair result," said the Spaniard. "We were better than them in all areas apart from the most important area, in front of goal.

"If the referee had given us the penalty it would have been an even better start for us, and then another in the second half. But the referee didn't give them and that's it.

"It's difficult to play the third best team in the league and the top scorers in the league. They are a very good side, so I'm really happy with the performance."