He may have only needed two games for Ireland to net for the first time but Cyrus Christie’s wait for a maiden goal for Derby was a far longer one.
Nineteen months and 62 games into his time at the club, Christie, whose goal for Ireland came in the 4-0 win over Gibraltar last September, got off the mark from close range for his club, as the Rams struck three times in the final 10 minutes to beat Brentford 3-1 in Saturday’s Championship action.
The full-back’s intervention was a timely one too, coming just four minutes after Ireland team-mate Jeff Hendrick had cancelled out a superb solo goal from another Irishman in Brentford’s Alan Judge.
“It was great for me to score because it has been a long time coming,” Christie conceded. “I have had a few chances this season and it never quite fell for me, but today it did. I think you can see from the reaction that I really enjoyed it. I will take a tap in all day.”
But while relieved to have ended his goal drought, Christie cited Hendrick’s equaliser as the game’s turning-point.
“Moments like Jeff’s goal can change a game,” Christie said. “As soon as Jeff scored we were straight on the front foot and we knew we could pick up all three points.”
Elsewhere, Anthony Pilkington provided further evidence he is growing into his new role as the focal point of Cardiff City’s attack. He scored a goal and won a penalty as the Bluebirds boosted their play-off prospects with a 4-1 win over Chris Hughton’s Brighton.
Pilkington’s goal was his third in five games, since he was moved from the wing to a central role, and earned him praise from his manager.
“People say he might be makeshift. I do not think he is,” said Russell Slade.
“If anything, he is very unfortunate not to score more goals. He is a real attacking fulcrum for us and brings others into play.”
Should the goals continue to flow between now and the end of the season Pilkington might just emerge as an unlikely contender to start upfront in the Euros come the summer.
For his part, Hughton had no difficulty in identifying the root cause of his side’s demise.
“It is simple, if you concede three goals in that manner it is very difficult to win any football match,” he said.
In the FA Cup, a towering header from Paul McShane sparked a comeback that secured a 3-1 win for Reading over West Brom and with it a place in the quarter-finals. The Royals reached the semi-final stage last season and McShane is dreaming of going all the way.
“You never know, hopefully we can go a step further and get to the final. I was in the final with Hull City and it was a great occasion, although the only way you can enjoy the occasion is if you win the cup. Stranger things have happened.”
In League One, Connor Dimaio scored one and made one as Chesterfield beat Crewe 3-1, while Paddy Madden struck in Scunthorpe’s 2-1 defeat at Fleetwood.
League Two saw Rory Gaffney cancel out a James Devitt penalty as Bristol Rovers came from behind to beat Morecambe 2-1.
Elsewhere, a goal from Shamir Fenelon earned Crawley Town a 1-1 draw at home to Plymouth, while James Berrett netted in York City’s 3-1 defeat to Cambridge.
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