STEVE McClaren admitted Derby County got past Brighton by the “skin of their teeth” after tonight’s crucial win on the south coast.
The Rams came under intense pressure throughout their Championship play-off semi-final first leg, but take a 2-1 advantage back to Derby on Sunday thanks to a remarkable turnaround.
They struggled to impose themselves for the first half an hour, and were trailing to Jesse Lingard’s deserved opener until Chris Martin levelled from the penalty spot.
Martin then played a huge part in Derby taking the lead as his thunderous shot cannoned off the bar and into the net via luckless Seagulls keeper Tomasz Kuszczak.
“We didn’t start very well but came back and showed great character, playing great football to get ourselves ahead at half-time,” said McClaren.
“We got through it, but by the skin of our teeth – with the help of Lee Grant and some great defending.
“In the second half we defended too deep but defended very well and kept a clean sheet in the second half and kept the result.”
On Sunday’s second leg at the iPro Stadium, he said: “Everybody has got to be on the front foot, so vocal, so positive on Sunday.
“We are in the driving seat and we have to maintain that position.”