REPORT: DERBY 2 ALBION 2
- James Wilson and Rajiv van La Parra on target for Albion
- Former Seagulls loanee Bradley Johnson and Chris Martin score equalisers for Derby
- Brighton remain two points clear at the top of the Championship
- The Seagulls extend their unbeaten league run to 21 matches
Brighton & Hove Albion were held to a frustrating 2-2 draw after twice being pegged back by Derby County in a top-of-the table clash at the iPro Stadium.
James Wilson and Rajiv van La Parra scored for the Albion, but their goals were cancelled out by a Bradley Johnson header and Chris Martin’s late penalty.
The result maintains Brighton’s two-point lead at the top of the Championship, after second placed Middlesbrough were held to a goalless draw by Birmingham City.
Albion created their first opening inside five minutes when some excellent work down the right by Bruno set up a chance for Tomer Hemed. He then teed up Solly March with a strike that went wide.
Former Seagulls loanee Johnson launched a speculative attempt from distance, but fired his effort well wide.
The Rams had a golden opportunity to take the lead moments later when Jacob Butterfield’s dangerous delivery was met by Jason Shackell in the box, but Hemed cleared the latter’s header off the line.
Inigo Calderon was forced off to receive treatment for a facial wound after tangling with Thomas Ince, but was able to continue.
Albion took the lead with 22 minutes on the clock after Jamie Murphy whipped in an excellent cross towards Wilson and the Manchester United loanee scored with a superb first-time strike past Rams keeper Lee Grant.
After taking the lead, Brighton were dealt a further injury blow when March was forced off injured, after failing to shake off a knock he picked up earlier in the game. The 21-year-old had to be stretchered off the pitch and was replaced by van La Parra.
The hosts always looked threatening on the break as Johnson launched another attempt from distance, which David Stockdale pushed away from the top left-hand corner.
Johnson got himself on the scoresheet in the 41st minute, as he rose highest in the area to meet Butterfield’s corner - his header flying past Stockdale to level the scores.
The threatening midfielder was then teed up with a strike on the edge of the box, but fired wide of the right post.
Wilson could have regained Brighton’s lead in first-half stoppage time after being set up by Hemed, but despite making a decent connection with the ball, his shot went well wide of the target.
Ince came close to giving Derby the lead shortly after the restart, as he cut inside the Albion defence but saw his swerving effort go narrowly wide of the far post.
Hemed had a chance to score Albion’s second, when Wilson chested the ball down following a cracking cross by Murphy, but Derby’s two centre-backs threw themselves at the ball to prevent the attempt going goalwards.
Van La Parra regained the lead for Hughton’s men with a thumping angled strike in the 75th minute, after being cleverly teed up by Dale Stephens.
Stockdale kept Albion’s lead intact when a mistake by Gordon Greer allowed substitute Johnny Russell through on goal, but the Yorkshireman comfortably tipped away the subsequent shot to safety.
There was a moment of panic in the Brighton defence just moments later, after a sloppy backpass from Rohan Ince forced Stockdale out of his goal, but Lewis Dunk made a terrific block to deny Derby’s Ince a strike on goal.
Just as Albion looked to be heading for three points, Russell was fouled inside the box and referee Lee Mason had no hesitation in awarding Derby a penalty.
Martin stepped up and fired the spot-kick beyond an outstretched Stockdale to earn Derby a share of the spoils.