For all the festering fear of losing their place in the top flight, Brighton can at least take some optimism from an FA Cup run that may well turn into a genuine adventure. These have been a troubling few weeks on the south coast, where the club’s Premier League future has come under serious threat, but the cup has so far provided a welcome distraction and a much-needed shot of positivity.
Brighton were largely dominant here, showing few signs of the inhibitions that have dogged their league form until a worryingly nervy final few minutes. Derby County are a good side under Frank Lampard, defeating two Premier League opponents already this season, but they waited too long to put Brighton under any sustained pressure after a lifeless opening hour at the Amex.
Ashley Cole’s header, his first goal for the club since joining in January, gave Derby hope in the final few minutes, when the mental and physical strains of the past few weeks finally showed for Brighton. It was too late, though, and few could claim that Brighton were not deserving of their victory.
Anthony Knockaert and Yves Bissouma were the main protagonists for Chris Hughton’s side, providing a first-half demonstration of physical power and creative thinking. Knockaert scored the first before Jurgen Locadia made it two just before the half-time break, tapping in after more terrific work by Bissouma.