Narrow home win will see Derby play-off job done against Albion
Derby County are in a commanding position as 5/4 favourites to win the Championship play-offs after their first leg victory over Brighton and Hove Albion at the Amex.
Oscar Garcia’s Seagulls have seen their odds drift out to a rank outside price of 11/1 to earn Premier League promotion. It looks like Albion, now 9/2 chances to reach Wembley, will endure semi-final heartbreak in this lethal lottery for the second successive season.
Rams top scorer Chris Martin did the damage, albeit with a little slice of luck – literally off the back of Brighton keeper Tomasz Kuszczak – in turning this tie around. He is 6/5 to add yet another goal to his tally, which will further sink the Seagulls here.
Albion, who are 7/2 to win the second leg during normal time, were very cautious in their approach at home, apart from an early flurry. Morale seemed sapped by winger Will Buckley’s half-time departure. Jesse Lingard continued his hot end of season form, however, by netting the opener. He is 15/2 to score first at Pride Park.
Steve McClaren, who is odds-on at 10/11 for another win in 90 minutes here, saw his charges put together a consummate counter-attacking performance in the first leg, with County responding yet again to falling behind. A repeat of the 1-0 victory they recorded over Brighton at home during the regular season will do nicely at 5/1.
Derby number one Lee Grant pulled off a string of fine saves to make the Seagulls rue failing to swoop. Back the home side stopper to keep a clean sheet at 27/20, or the Rams to win to nil at 2/1. A second leg draw is 12/5.
Brighton right back Inigo Calderon may be wary of more counter-attacks from County, but his preaching of patience in the wake of the first leg defeat is not what fans want to hear. Garcia is a continental coach, so Albion do play with a slower tempo, but that simply will not help them win this tie in 90 minutes.
McClaren clearly has his Seagulls counterpart’s number in the tactical battle. Patrick Bamford may be involved after being benched for the first leg. He netted the only goal as Derby defeated Brighton in January, so back him to score laat at 11/2.