Brighton looked to be in complete control after taking a 2-0 lead at halftime, with Anthony Knockaert and Jurgen Locadia scoring for the Premier League side. But Derby threatened to make a comeback after veteran left-back Ashley Cole — a seven-time FA Cup winner with Arsenal and Chelsea — scored his first goal in the competition in the 81st. That made for a nervy last 10 minutes for the hosts, but Harry Wilson and Fikayo Tomori both shot wide for Derby to scupper any hopes of a comeback.
Knockaert opened the scoring in the 33rd minute by meeting a low cross in the area and sweeping a shot inside the near post, before Locadia doubled the lead on the stroke of halftime by firing in from close range after Yves Bissouma’s effort had hit the post.
Cole responded with his first goal in English football in six years after Florian Jozefzoon went down under a challenge from Bernardo and the ball was cleared into the path of the former England defender. While his teammates appealed for a penalty, Cole calmly headed home.
The 38-year-old Cole signed with Derby in January after leaving the Los Angeles Galaxy. The Championship side is managed by Cole’s former Chelsea teammate Frank Lampard and was looking for another upset after knocking Manchester United out of the League Cup this season and beating Southampton in the FA Cup’s third round — both times on penalties.
Later Saturday, Wimbledon hosted Millwall and Manchester City traveled to fourth-tier Newport.