06:00 Wednesday 04 December 2013

Craig Bryson says Derby County's win over Wigan Athletic sent out message to league

Written bySTEVE NICHOLSON

DELS20131109E-064_C.JPG Picture: Lucy Shaw.Derby County v Sheffield Wednesday 3-0.Picture shows Derby County player Craig Bryson DELS20131109E-064_C.JPG Picture: Lucy Shaw.Derby County v Sheffield Wednesday 3-0.Picture shows Derby County player Craig Bryson

CRAIG Bryson believes Derby County made a bold statement to the rest of the Championship with victory over FA Cup holders Wigan Athletic, writes STEVE NICHOLSON.

The Rams beat the Latics 3-1 at the DW Stadium on Sunday, largely thanks to an excellent first-half performance.

The result, Derby’s sixth away win of the league campaign, lifted them into the play-off places.

“Results went for us on Saturday and we knew that if we won, we could go fifth,” said Bryson (pictured right).

“It was talked about before the game, that we could lay down a marker to everyone else in the league and make them have to start taking note of Derby.

“Everybody in the changing room sensed we had a chance, so we were right at it from the first whistle.

“We got an early goal and built on it. I thought we were outstanding.

“We got right at Wigan and didn’t let them settle.

“We wanted to put our stamp on the game and force them back – and I thought we did that.”

The early goal came courtesy of Bryson, who curled in a free kick in only the third minute – the midfielder’s seventh goal of the season.

Simon Dawkins pounced on a defensive mix-up to added a second after 15 minutes and Chris Martin hit a third from the penalty spot just before the half-hour.

“I’ve been practising my free-kicks a lot in training, so I felt if I got a chance, I could get it on target and work the keeper,” said Bryson.

“Luckily for me and the team, I was able to do that.

“I think you have to sense when you’re on top in a game and when you’re on top, you have to score.

“We saw how hard it was in the second half, so those three goals we scored in the first half were absolutely vital.”

Nick Powell got one back for Wigan five minutes after the interval and Derby had to defend resolutely to maintain their two-goal cushion lead.

“When you have such a big advantage after the first half, the second half is never usually the same,” said Bryson.

“The opposition didn’t have anything to lose and threw everything at us but I thought we dealt with it quite well.

“Even after they got the goal back early on, I thought we saw the game out not too badly – and sent the Derby fans home happy.”

Bryson felt Derby’s display in the opening 45 minutes was as good as they have produced all season.

“I think our first-half performance is definitely up there with the best of the season and the second half was good for different reasons,” said the Scottish international.

“When you come to a place like Wigan, you know it’s going to be hard and they will have spells when you have to just defend.

“We did that and deservedly came away with the three points.”

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