Derby 4-1 Brighton (6-2 over two legs)
Sunday was a day to remember. At the beginning of the day, Wembley was within touching distance and, as if there were ever any doubts, the Rams booked a play-off final place in ruthless form. Perfect.
As the team news filtered through, I was disappointed to hear about Bryson and, for the first time, slightly worried about the outcome – there was no need. Hughes, Bryson’s replacement, was outstanding. His finish was exquisite. On first viewing, I didn’t know how cheeky it was. It took a replay for me to really appreciate how well the youngster had done to divert the ball goalwards. Young Will can take a bow. The goal eased any nerves.
Hughes has created a real dilemma for the final. How on earth do you drop someone after such a good, polished man of the match performance? Bryson, Hendrick and Hughes – all in good form – how do you combine them? For me, it’d be bring Bryso back for Hughes. Changing the system or Thorne would be mad to accommodate all three.
Derby bossed the whole thing from beginning to end. It was a proper team performance, topped off with some great team goals. Quick to latch on to every ball, the Rams attacked with such vigour and a high intensity. They sprayed the ball around wonderfully.
Just before the break, Grant made a vital save for the hosts. It seems pretty insignificant now, however it was vital at the time. Lingaard’s lofted pass eluded the Derby defence, fortunately the ‘keeper was alert to the recipient of the pass, Ulloa.
Goals flooded in the second 45. The first one optimised another good shift from Martin, who showed more desire and strength than the Brighton defenders to score the second. Home and dry. Once again, Martin was magnificent for the Rams. Ward was key in the goal and I thought he was tremendous for the Rams.
Twenty minutes later, Thorne hit an absolute beauty of a volley. Like his goal at Doncaster, the loanee showed remarkable technique to score.
Almost all game, the place was bouncing in every corner of the ground. The scarf waving prior to kick-off made for a great spectacle. Wouldn’t it be good to see a 30,000+ strong crowd each game next season?
For the final goal, it was Hendrick’s run at the Albion defence that began it all, he slid in sub Bamford, who intelligently rolled it back for Jeff to smash the ball home. Rampant is an understatement.
With the outcome already decided, Lua Lua pulled one back for the away side. From just outside the box, he placed his shot to perfection. In any other game, he would’ve got huge credit for it. This day belonged to the Rams.
Down on the pitch, I could just make out the players emerging from the directors’ box, some with their children. Keogh took to the mic and said something, I couldn’t understand it over the tannoy, but it sounded worthy of a good applause!
QPR are the opponents in the play-off final. Austin, Krancjar, Morrison, whoever…I say bring it on! Derby are in outstanding form and seem to be able to beat anyone.
I’m sure we are firmly the people’s choice to win too because of the clubs’ differing approaches.
Bring on Wembley! COME ON YOU RAMS!