HEAD coach Steve McClaren felt the win against Brighton was a victory for Derby County’s squad and not just the 11 players who started the Championship clash.
Substitutes Patrick Bamford, Jeff Hendrick and Conor Sammon all played their part.
Bamford’s strike 14 minutes from time on his home debut was the only goal of a tight contest and Derby’s determination to dig in and grind out a win after three consecutive defeats delighted McClaren.
“We competed for the 90 minutes against a good Brighton team who are difficult to break down and they made it hard for us,” he said.
“Brighton frustrated us and frustrated the crowd but we kept our patience.
“We don’t want to start lumping it forward, playing long balls, we want to play football and at times we are not going to be able to do it like we want to because of the opponent.
“We said at half time it was a game we had to grind out.
“We said we needed to be patient, we needed to keep playing and that will get us the goal, and it did.
“We didn’t play good football. We were a little nervous on the ball but we kept a clean sheet and we’ve got the quality in our team and on the bench to win us games.”
Bamford and Hendrick replaced Simon Dawkins and Will Hughes after an hour.
When right back Andre Wisdom limped off with a tight hamstring after 73 minutes, striker Conor Sammon went on and Hendrick, a midfielder, dropped into Wisdom’s role.
“This is the importance of a squad, the importance of the bench,” said McClaren.
“We have players who can come on in a game that was going nowhere and can turn it around.
“We could have brought on a defender when Wisdom went off.
“Had Patrick Bamford scored from a free kick minutes earlier we might have put Michael Keane on at right back.
“We wanted to win the game and felt we could win the game.
“Jeff Hendrick did a great job at right back and allowed us to bring Conor Sammon on and go 4-2-4 and open things up.
“It’s a squad game. You need players who can come on and help change a game.
“The squad won it, not the team.”