Chris Martin struck two minutes from time as Derby County fought back on two occasions to secure a 2-2 at home to Brighton & Hove Albion.

Chris Martin struck two minutes from time as Derby County fought back on two occasions to secure a 2-2 at home to Brighton & Hove Albion.

James Wilson broke the deadlock in an entertaining first half at the iPro Stadium, before Bradley Johnson’s header got Paul Clement’s side back on level terms.

In a finely poised encounter, Rajiv van La Parra struck the Seagulls back in front, before Martin converted from the penalty spot to extend their unbeaten run to four games.

The opening stages of this top of the table clash was high octane. Derby pressed Brighton relentlessly off the ball and were equally impressive in their offensive play.

Within 25 seconds the hosts had created their first opening. Chris Martin worked to collect a ball into the box before back-heeling into the path of Tom Ince to strike first time – only for his effort to cannon off a defender and out of play for the first corner of the contest.

Solly March, a nominee for the Sky Bet Championship Player of the Month award for November, shot wide after patient build-up play, but that was the only notable opportunity the visitors carved out in a largely dominated start by the Rams.

Martin flicked a loose ball straight at David Stockdale, before Jason Shackell saw a back post header cleared off the line and Ince hit a sweet volley straight into the arms of the Brighton goalkeeper.

Chris Hughton’s side weathered the storm, though, to take the lead after 22 minutes.

A precise kick by Stockdale, out to the left of Calderon, was played further forward and after the Rams failed to deal with Jamie Murphy’s cross, Wilson, on loan from Manchester United, guided the ball beyond Lee Grant and into the far corner.

It was only the second time since returning from the first international break of the season that Derby had fallen behind in a game.

After March departed prematurely in place of Rajiv van La Parra, Murphy saw a shot saved by Grant in a stronger spell for the visitors, before Clement’s side ended the half stronger.

Johnson saw a long-range drive saved by Stockdale, before Stephen Warnock, celebrating his 34th birthday, saw a teasing ball nearly turned into Stockdale’s goal by Lewis Dunk.

The Rams persisted and got their rewards four minutes before the interval as Johnson rose the highest to direct Jacob Butterfield’s corner into the back of the net.

Shooting towards the South Stand, Derby continued to step on the gas and look the more likely to score.

Ince, particularly, went close twice on two occasions – both efforts flying narrowly wide – but the longer the game went on the closer it became.

Tomer Hemed, the Israeli forward, saw a snap shot from the edge of the box crucially blocked by Warnock and Shackell, but with 15 minutes remaining, Brighton entered delirium.

Wasteful in the middle of the park, Dale Stephens picked up the loose ball, surged forward and after another loose ball was seized upon on the edge of the area, van La Parra collected possession before striking high shot into the roof of the net.

Clement introduced Darren Bent with 10 minutes remaining as the Rams pushed for a late equaliser.

Johnny Russell, another substitute, came close after winning the ball back and surging towards goal, but Stockdale got down low to parry his drive away.

Ince, after a poor pass back, had another effort deflected for a corner, before Lee Mason, the official, awarded the hosts a golden opportunity to equaliser.

Following a scramble in the area, Russell was hauled down and Mason had no hesitation in pointing to the penalty spot. Martin assumed control of the ball and planted the ball into the bottom corner of Stockdale’s goal to end his run of six games without a goal and secure a point for Clement’s side.

Derby County: Grant, Christie, Keogh, Shackell, Warnock; Thorne (Bent, 80), Butterfield (Hendrick, 74), Johnson; Ince, Weimann (Russell, 63), Martin

Substitutes not used: Mitchell, Baird, Pearce, Shotton

Brighton & Hove Albion: Stockdale, Bruno, Dunk, Greer, Calderon; March (van La Parra, 27), Kayal, Stephens, Murphy; Wilson (Zamora, 82), Hemed (Ince, 82)

Substitutes not used: Maenpaa (GK), Chicksen, Hunemeier, Manu

Attendance: 30,537

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