In an Emirates FA Cup tie that had ‘everything in it’, Martyn Waghorn praised the strength of Derby County’s character to defeat Premier League side Southampton on penalties - following a 2-2 draw - and move on to the Fourth Round of the competition.
The forward was amongst all the action as his assisted Craig Bryson’s disallowed goal in the first-half, scored the equaliser in the second-half and stepped up first to bury his penalty in the shoot-out, which Derby won 5-3.
After VAR ruled Waghorn as offside in the goal that would have given the Rams the lead, the Saints went 2-0 ahead in a space of two minutes in the second-half.
Harry Wilson then pulled one back from a free-kick before providing Waghorn with the leveller late on.
No more goals came in extra time to send the match to penalties which, for the second time this season saw Derby hold their nerve to defeat Premier League opposition and set up a Fourth Round tie at Accrington Stanley next Saturday,
“It had everything in it,” Waghorn told RamsTV.
“To be honest when we come up against these Premier League sides we just go into them with no fear. We are a young side, we are hungry, and we want to go as far as we can in the cup and I think that showed.
“Obviously, it is about the quality and weathering the storm a couple of times, but it shows the character that we have in the team with the young lads and the boys coming on. It was a typical FA Cup night.”
Six minutes after Wilson pulled a goal back, Waghorn powered in his fifth goal of the season.
The 28-year-old summer signing from Ipswich Town said he was delighted to help the team.
“’Nuge’ made a good run then Harry cut back and I saw a little bit of a gap opening between the defender and full back and just managed to get my head on it,” he explained.
“It was nice. A striker prides himself on scoring goals and to help the boys get the comeback on was brilliant.”
The frontman then was elected as the first player to step up to the penalty spot, but the pressure is what Waghorn says he thrives on.
He tucked away his effort, as did David Nugent, Mason Mount, Tom Lawrence and Richard Keogh.
Added to the eight perfect penalties against Manchester United in the Carabao Cup in September, Derby have scored all 13 penalties in their two shoot outs against Premier League opposition this season.
“It really doesn’t bother me going first. I love the pressure,” Waghorn said.
“As a striker with a free shot on goal and a chance to score another goal. It doesn’t bother me – I’ve took them before and missed them, I’ve took them before and scored them, it’s one of those things. I just enjoy scoring goals!”
He added: “We have a 100 percent record scoring penalties, it gives us confidence going up there.
“I’ve always been told to stick to your guns, know where you are going and just be confident and hit it true. We have got great quality in the squad and again that shows in taking penalties.”
Despite being a league below the Rams, Waghorn is under no illusion that a trip to Accrington Stanley will be a tough test.
He said: “It’s going to be fun and another classic FA Cup tie. We have got to go there with the right mentality and be switched on.
"It’s going to be a difficult game, completely different to tonight and we have always got to be ready for any challenge coming.
"It’s important we go there knowing it is going to be a tough game. We will go there, do what we do and hopefully get an early goal to take the game away from them.”
Before that however, the Rams will return their focus to the Sky Bet Championship and have two days to prepare for the clash against Reading at Pride Park Stadium on Saturday.
“We have got a good lot of fixtures coming up with teams in the lower half,” Waghorn said.
“No disrespect to them at all, but we need to capitalise on that. We need to build on this tonight, not take our foot off the gas and build some form in the league now.”