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Match Report: Brighton & Hove Albion 2-0 Derby County (Brighton Fan's Perspective)

By Andy
Thursday 22nd March 2012
Brighton were looking to bounce back having lost their unbeaten 2012 run at Blackpool at the weekend, in what was a truly poor performance. The team came out and saw off Derby with ease, with the squad a shadow of the shambles at Bloomfield Road.

Kazenga Lua Lua and Spanish legend Vicente Rodriguez dominated this fixture with stand out performances, with the former Valencia winger setting up both Brighton's goals.

Brighton showed their intent from the word go. 10 minutes into the match they forced a corner after several shots were blocked and Derby failed to clear their lines. Vicente floated in a perfect cross for Inigo Calderon who powered his header in off a static Derby defender. It was Calderon's second goal of the season, a good haul for a full back who has spent most of his time on the bench.

Derby never looked like threatening and couldn't get passed a solid back line which welcomed the return of Lewis Dunk after Adam El-abd was forced not to take part due to illness. Dunk showed his intent to stay in the starting eleven with a brave block with his head to deny Derby an equalizer.

Brighton, rather than push to extend their lead in the first half, decided to retain possession and make Derby work. But it wasn't quite the cutting edge football of the League One title winning campaign last season, and fans were beginning to get frustrated and call for the team to push forward.

Derby's best spell came soon after the start of the second half. Peter Brezovan was called into action after a Derby corner was headed goalwards, but the big Slovakian was equal to it and tipped the shot over the bar. The Rams were then unable to trouble the Albion goal and were instantly on the receiving end of a counter attack. Brezovan plucked the corner from the air and was given the space to launch the ball down field. Lua Lua was the target and he timed his run with the bounce of the ball to perfection, but Derby's defenders just about kept up and were able to put him off enough for his shot to be parried away by Frank Fielding in the Derby goal.

Soon after, Lua Lua had the ball at his feet again and was tormenting the Derby full backs. He skipped passed one defender to give himself enough space to unleash a powerful left footed drive and drew a fingertip save from Fielding.

A second goal could be sensed by the AMEX faithful and it came in the 66th minute. Once again, a mazy run on the left by Lua Lua gave him the space to find Vicentem who bypassed one defender then picked out Ashley Barnes unmarked in the box who accepted the pass and dispatched a well placed left foot shot into the top corner.

In the 80th minute, Vicente found himself with the ball on the half way line and he stormed through the Derby defence to unleashed a powerful left footed drive, only for the ball to smack against the cross bar. It was Vicente's last action of the game and he left the field to the same treatment as Lua Lua had as he left only minutes earlier, a standing ovation from the 18,000 fans.

Brighton, now up to fourth in the Championship table, owe their position to Vicente. Who knows where the Seagulls would be if he had been fit all season.

Gus Poyet's post match reaction mirrored this: "Vicente has started in the last two games and he's getting fitter. I want him to play but I don't want to lose him, we want to keep him fit and if we do that we've got a great chance. Imagine if he had been fit for the whole season. Had he been, we could be 10 or 15 points better off."

Brighton: 01 Brezovan, 02 Mattock, 03 Greer, 05 Dunk, 14 Calderon, 08 Navarro, 15 Vicente (Razak - 83'), 25 LuaLua (Noone - 80'), 26 Bridcutt, 09 Barnes, 24 Vokes (Mackail-Smith - 61').

Derby - 01 Fielding, 03 Roberts, 06 Shackell, 17 Buxton, 31 Naylor, 16 Bailey (Carroll - 66'), 23 Hendrick, 32 Green, 07 S Davies (Ball - 81'), 09 Tyson (B Davies - 69'), 21 Robinson.

Total articles: 27

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