Nigel Clough: John Brayford switch designed to help Derby close down Seagulls' playmaker Bridcutt
JOHN Brayford's surprise role against Brighton & Hove Albion was designed to inject energy into the midfield and close down the Seagulls' play-maker, Liam Bridcutt.
The decision to switch Brayford from right-back to central midfield was explained after the 2-0 defeat.
"It was to give us something similar to what Craig Bryson gives us," said manager Nigel Clough.
"We wanted to support striker Conor Sammon and get close to Bridcutt, who makes Brighton tick at times.
"John's played in there before at a lower level and he looked OK in there.
"You can play one of two ways when you go to Brighton. You can sit back and let them control the game or you try and get on the front foot and close them down.
"We wanted to try and close them down, which is the reason we put John in there."
Kieron Freeman started at right-back in what was only the 20-year-old's second start since he signed from Nottingham Forest in the summer.
"We wanted to give Kieron another chance because he did ever so well against Middlesbrough," said Clough.
Brayford reverted to right-back just after the hour when Freeman was replaced by Michael Jacobs.
Derby were two down at the time and Jeff Hendrick pulled a goal back after 70 minutes.
"It was a strange game because we never felt we were out of it at 2-0," said Clough.
"We thought if we could get one back, they might get a little bit nervous and then you just need something to drop for you in the penalty area.
"It didn't quite happen for us but it was a very spirited effort.
"Once we got a goal back, we really got on top and we had a right go at them in the later stages but we just didn't have enough to get something from the game."
Goals from Ashley Barnes and Andrea Orlandi put Brighton two up after 25 minutes.
"In the first 45 minutes, they had two shots and scored two goals, so they weren't exactly peppering us with chances," said Clough.
"But our final ball wasn't quite up to scratch, whether it be from set plays or open play, so that was a disappointment.
"It was one of those where it could have gone three, four or five nil but it didn't.
"We stuck at it. You have to give credit to the players for not letting their heads drop and forcing their way back into the game.
"It finished 2-1 with them hanging on at the end.
"Despite the defeat, we'll take encouragement."
Brighton boss Gus Poyet said the first goal was crucial.
"The early goal made the difference in the game," he added.
"That goal gave us the calmness that you need to play at home and we relaxed.
"Then our second shot on target was another goal which was even better.
"It was a good result.
"Unfortunately, it was a nervy finish in the end but that was our own doing. We knew that it would have been over with the third goal."