Chris Hughton: Reaching FA Cup quarter-finals 'a big thing' for Brighton
Goals from Knockaert and Locadia put Seagulls in control before Cole header sets up nervy finish against Derby
Brighton & Hove Albion moved into the FA Cup quarter-finals for the second successive season as goals from Anthony Knockaert and Jurgen Locadia clinched a 2-1 win over Derby County on Saturday.
Chris Hughton's side have been sucked into relegation danger in the Premier League after six games without a win.
But the Seagulls made the most of a welcome break from the grind of the relegation battle as they saw off Frank Lampard's Championship side at the Amex Stadium.
Derby had claimed the scalps of Manchester United and Southampton in domestic cup competitions this season. But the fifth-round tie was tipped in Brighton's favour by a dominant first-half display.
"Overall I am very happy, but we are through and that is the most important thing," Hughton said.
"We made hard work of it in the end. We were good in the first half and should have made more of those opportunities."
Brighton opened the scoring after 33 minutes when Knockaert bent his first-time shot into the bottom corner of Kelle Roos' net after connecting with Yves Bissouma's cross.
Hughton's team doubled their advantage when Locadia fired home from close-range in first-half stoppage time after Bissouma's effort hit the post.
Former Chelsea and Arsenal defender Ashley Cole set up a tense finish when the Derby defender headed in after 81 minutes.
It was the 38-year-old's first goal in England since 2012 and his first ever in the FA Cup and the landmark strike came in his second game since joining Derby until the end of the season following his release by LA Galaxy.
But, despite Derby's barrage of pressure, Cole's goal wasn't enough to spark a late escape for the Rams.
"You can always dream [about winning the cup]. The reality is it is normally one of the top six that wins the competition," Hughton added. "For the likes of ourselves it is about going as far as we can. To get to quarter-finals is a big thing for the club.
"We are having a difficult time in the Premier League, that has seen us drop a bit from a comfortable position. We need all the positivity from today."
Millwall also booked their place in the quarter-finals after the Championship side secured a 1-0 win over struggling League One club AFC Wimbledon yesterday.
Murray Wallace scored the only goal of the game in the fifth minute, heading home moments after Joe Pigott hit the post for AFC Wimbledon.
Wallace also scored the winning goal in the previous round - in the 94th minute of a 3-2 victory over Premier League club Everton.
AFC Wimbledon, bottom of League One and 28 places below Millwall in English football's standings, produced a battling performance but were unable to replicate their heroics from the previous round when they shocked West Ham United.
"In the FA Cup you need heroes and Murray [Wallace] was it against Everton and he was again today," Millwall manager Neil Harris told the BBC. "We had to stand strong and defend crosses and set-plays and I’m pleased with the character and professionalism.
"I said to the players, cup football suits us because of the way we play. It can be frantic, but there's set-plays. It’s the way we like to play.
"We would love to be at home, there's some good ties left in it and we will think we have half a chance. What an achievement for us to get here."
Updated: February 16, 2019 09:29 PM