Preston North End halted Brighton’s 18-match unbeaten run in the Championship as Paul Huntington and Callum Robinson’s goals either side of half time sealed a 2-0 win at Deepdale.
Huntington put Preston ahead on 13 minutes as he got on the end of a Paul Gallagher free-kick and guided the ball into the net.
Robinson doubled the home side’s lead just after half time with a cool finish after latching onto a long through ball from Daryl Horgan.
Brighton’s Tomer Hemed saw his late penalty saved by Chris Maxwell after Glen Murray had been brought down in the area as Chris Hughton’s men fell to only their third defeat in the league this season.
Championship table-toppers, Brighton, arrived at Deepdale in terrific form but it was the home team who started the better as Robinson forced an early chance but his shot was deflected just wide.
The away side started to settle and Anthony Knockaert began to influence the proceedings. He forced Chris Maxwell into a save before his free-kick delivery, on 11 minutes, was headed just over by Shane Duffy from close range.
Just as Brighton were building momentum, Preston took the lead through Huntington. Paul Gallagher’s free-kick was swung into the area and the central defender steered the ball past the helpless David Stockdale to give the home side the lead.
The Seagulls began to stamp their authority on the game after that setback and controlled the play with a large amount of possession. Eventually their pressure led to a great chance but Murray’s effort was palmed away by Maxwell for a corner on 38 minutes.
Murray continued to cause problems for the North End defence and he had another excellent opportunity in added time at the end of the half as he met an Adekugbe cross from the left but he diverted his header wide of the goal.
Preston doubled their lead seven minutes after half time as Horgan, who was making his league debut, lofted a ball over the top of the Brighton defence into the path of Robinson who shrugged off a challenge and calmly slotted the ball past Stockdale.
The game began to become feistier with challenges being thrown in by both sides as Brighton struggled to create any clear-cut opportunities to get back into the game.
Preston captain Tom Clarke had to be at his very best though as he brilliantly cleared a Knockaert cross to stop a certain goal as Brighton looked to get back in the game with 15 minutes to go.
The Lilywhites were still a threat on the counter-attack and Horgan turned beautifully before guiding a curled effort just wide of the post.
It looked like it was going to be one of those days for Brighton as Duffy headed goalward from a corner but Preston’s Marnick Vermijl was on the line to head the ball away with 5 minutes remaining.
Eventually Brighton’s persistence forced a Preston mistake as Maxwell brought down Murray in the box but he made up for his error by diving low to his right to keep out Tomer Hemed’s penalty deep into stoppage time.
Ultimately it was Preston’s day and Simon Grayson’s side deservedly walked away with all three points which keeps them pushing for a play-off place.