Three and easy for McClaren

The Football League Paper - - CHAMPIONSHIP - By John Brind­ley

TWO-GOAL Chris Martin high­lighted Derby’s claim to the Christ­mas num­ber one slot – although Steve McClaren isn’t un­wrap­ping his presents just yet.

A blis­ter­ing open­ing 20 min­utes vir­tu­ally set­tled the out­come as the strug­gling vis­i­tors con­ceded three times to foot­ball that was on a dif­fer­ent, quick-think­ing wave­length.

And the Rams boss de­clared him­self ‘very sat­is­fied’ with his team’s re­ac­tion to last week­end’s maul­ing at Leeds but warned: “We are still a long way off the best this side can be­come. The boys are tak­ing more re­spon­si­bil­ity and ma­tur­ing and we when we get it right – as we did here – we can beat any­body.

“We were fo­cused and wanted to start well, press them back and not let them back into it. We lost a bit of con­trol in the last 20 min­utes of the first half but I was pleased with our sec­ond half. Not con­ced­ing and get­ting back our con­trol was more im­por­tant to me than a fourth goal.

“Chris Martin is our fo­cal point. He is not just about scor­ing goals but his all-round game is tremen­dous.”

Teams who lined up on an equal foot­ing in the play-offs barely six months ago with a Pre- mier League spot in sight now look light-years apart.

Brighton hadn’t got into Derby’s half be­fore they fell be­hind after ten min­utes, Jeff Hen­drick and Johnny Rus­sell were in­volved and Martin left David Stock­dale a spec­ta­tor with a low left footer from 15 yards.

Rus­sell calmly clipped a sec­ond over Stock­dale five min­utes later and when a de­li­cious right-wing cross by Cyrus Christie was pow­er­fully headed home at the far post by Martin, it was almost all over be­fore it be­gan.

Derby took their foot off the pedal for the re­main­der of the half but, save for a Dar­ren Bent header ruled out for off­side be­tween the sec­ond and third goals, Lee Grant re­mained un­trou­bled. The home side went back through the gears and could eas­ily have added another three in the first 20 min­utes after the break.

Stock­dale spilled a Craig Bryson shot onto a post, Hen­drick saw a shot saved, then Bryson shot nar­rowly wide.

The Brighton goal­keeper then foiled Martin’s side footer and a pow­er­ful blast from sub­sti­tute Jor­don Ibe.

Martin reigned supreme for Derby with his sub­lime touch, well sup­ported by the power and pace of Si­mon Dawkins and the guile of Rus­sell and a goal­hun­gry mid­field.

Down­beat Seag­ulls boss Sami Hyypia re­fused to spec­u­late about his own fu­ture but said:“If I didn’t think I could turn it around, I would walk away. And I in­tend to be in train­ing on Mon­day morn­ing.

“It’s dif­fi­cult enough with­out con­ced­ing three early goals. We gave our­selves too big a moun­tain to climb and had to for­get the game plan.We couldn’t get on the ball as we would have liked.

“It’s very dif­fi­cult to stay pos­i­tive after that but mir­a­cles do hap­pen some­times in foot­ball as I dis­cov­ered back in 2005.

“We worked on our de­fen­sive side in mid­week but the bet­ter team won here.

“They are a very good side with very good play­ers. We pressed them after go­ing three down but they had the courage to play through us. I am so down, it is dif­fi­cult to think about what things were pos­i­tive.”

EYES ON THE PRIZE: Derby’s Chris Martin scores their first

PIC­TURES: Ac­tion Images

COOL: Derby’s Johnny

Rus­sell scores

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.