A superb home debut goal from on-loan Chelsea forward, Patrick Bamford, was the deciding factor in this clash between two of the Sky Bet Championship’s Play-Off hopefuls, giving Derby their first league win in three games.
The striker came off the bench to score the only goal of the game, a curling effort from the edge of the area, to give the Rams their first home win over Brighton in a decade.
It was a tale of two very well-organised defences in the first-half, with plenty of end to end football, but very few scoring opportunities for either side.
The back and forth continued after half-time, with both teams passing the ball around midfield well, but struggling to break down their other side’s back four.
It was a finely balanced encounter, which looked like one moment of magic could mean victory and that proved to be the case when Bamford took his chance superbly in the 76th minute to secure maximum points for his new club.
The opening 20 minutes of the first half passed by fairly uneventfully, with the only significant chance coming from Brighton midfielder, Keith Andrews, but his effort from 20-yards did not force a save from Derby ‘keeper Lee Grant who watched the ball go wide.
The visitors then tested Derby’s resolve once more when Andrea Orlandi’s well taken corner was met by Matthew Upson who powered a header at goal to bring a fantastic reaction save from Grant.
Derby began to come into the game more, playing some good passing football in Brighton’s half and getting into good positions, but they could not carve out a clear opportunity to score, and at half time the game remained goalless.
Derby started the second half the brighter of the two teams but were still unable to break the visitors down and create opportunities to break the deadlock.
Brighton began to have more of the play as the half wore on but were also unable to create a clear cut chance in the final third, as the Rams’ well-organised back four kept them at arm’s length with the visitors restricted to shots from distance.
The visitors’ pressure almost proved fruitful when a good cross from the left wing found David Lopez at the far post, but the midfielder’s shot failed to find the target.
But it was Derby who would strike the first blow with the Rams’ recent loan signing, Bamford, scoring with a spectacular, curling effort that beat Tomasz Kuszczak at his far post.
Minutes after the restart, Martin tried to make it 2-0 with an effort from the edge of the Brighton area, but his shot was straight at the away side’s ‘keeper.
Brighton then broke away at the other end of the pitch and when Leonardo Ulloa found himself in space in the Derby box, Grant had to be at his best to keep the Seagulls forward out.
And moments later, Andrews tried his luck from long range, but his shot was high and wide of Grant’s goal.
Brighton piled on the pressure in the remaining ten minutes, but Derby’s defence were resolute and held out for a deserved win and a valuable three points.
Derby County: Grant (GK), Wisdom (Sammon 73'), Buxton, Keogh, Forsyth, Eustace, Hughes (Hendrick 60'), Bryson, Ward, Martin, Dawkins (Bamford 60').
Subs not used: Legzdins (GK), Bennett, Whitbread, Keane.
Brighton & Hove Albion: Kuszczak (GK), Bruno, Ward, Andrews, Greer, Upson, Forster–Caskey (Obika 79'), Ince, Ulloa, Lopez (Agustien 82'), Orlandi (March 66').
Subs not used: Brezovan (GK), Dunk, Calderon, Chicksen.