Brighton moved level on points with Newcastle thanks to a comfortable 3-0 win over Steve McClaren’s Derby County.

Brighton Starting X11

Stockdale; Bruno, Hunemeier, Dunk, Rosenior; Knockaert, Stephens, Kayal, Skalak; Murray, Baldock

Brighton Substitutes

Walton, March, Sidwell, Tomori, Akpom, Norwood, Hemed

Derby Starting X11

Carson; Christie, Baird, Pearce, Olsson; Ince, De Sart, Butterfield; Vydra, Nugent, Bent

Derby Substitutes

Mitchell, Bryson, Anya, Hughes, Russell, Lowe, Bennett

First Half

After being forced into rotating half of his first choice back line, Brighton manager Chris Hughton will have hoped that his side would’ve gotten off to a quick start prior to this game, and they certainly did so.

Mercurial winger Anthony Knockaert produced a silky piece of footwork on the edge of the area to beat his man before picking out the bottom corner from 25 yards out to give the hosts the lead inside 5 minutes.

Darren Bent had an excellent chance to level for Derby minutes later but spooned his effort over the bar. Glenn Murray and Lewis Dunk both had chances to double the home side’s advantage but failed to score.

Brighton were the dominant side throughout the opening 45 minutes, and Derby failed to register a single shot on target in the entire half.

Sam Baldock finally doubled the Seagulls’ lead just before half-time, steadying himself before calmly slotting past Scott Carson to put the hosts 2-0 up going into half-time.

Second Half

The second period was a scrappy one for the large part, with neither side enjoying a clear spell of possession. Matej Vydra came close to halving the deficit, but his header rebounded off the crossbar.

Neither side got a foothold in the game, and Glenn Murray took advantage of some sloppy defending to put Brighton out of sight and cruising to 3 points.

Brighton nearly added a fourth when Sam Baldock broke and tried to play in substitute Tomer Hemed, but Baldock’s pass was cut out before it reached the Isreali.

Chris Hughton will welcome these 3 points after another outstanding performance from one of the most efficient sides in the Championship, and with the Seagulls going level on points with Newcastle at the top, you wouldn’t rule them out of making a title challenge.

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Sports journalist and editor. Southend-based Reading FC fan. Can sometimes catch me editing for In Bed With Maradona. Find me on Twitter @HarrySmithRFC