Brighton & Hove Albion boss Chris Hughton tonight praised his squad's endeavours over the past week as they preserved their unbeaten start to the season with a 0-0 draw against Preston North End.
After late wins against Leeds United and Bristol City, the Seagulls couldn't repeat the feat today and had to work hard for their point against an industrious Preston side.
Hughton was not too disheartened and praised his team's work ethic as they ended the game with ten men, after Gaetan Bong was forced off late on and all three substitutions had been made.
He said, "We didn't reach the heights we have done at home this season, but every team who comes here presents a different challenge.
"On the balance of play I thought we were the better side - particularly for 80 minutes when it was eleven v eleven - but they defended well and made it difficult for us.
"Our better periods were in the first half, but we were up against a side who were on the back of a very good away win at Charlton and that probably showed, and they had a system which made it difficult for us.
"But I can't fault the lads' application. It's been three games in a week, and it wasn't our day today; it's been a good week, and we can have a week's break now."
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Hughton had called on his squad to be ready for action, and with Dale Stephens injured and Beram Kayal serving a one-match suspension, Jamie Murphy, Rohan Ince and Andrew Crofts all came into the starting line-up, while Danny Holla saw his first league action from the bench.
"We had to make some changes and that can throw the balance a bit, but sometimes you come away and say that's not a bad point.
"Losing Dale was a big blow - especially with Beram suspended. He has a very slight thigh strain, we are hoping it won't keep him out too long.
"That gave Rohan and Crofty an opportunity, and given that they haven't played much football, it was great to see them both play 90 minutes.
"They are two players who have plenty of experience at this level, so I had no qualms about them coming in and overall I was delighted with their contribution."
Albion will assess the damage to Bong in the next few days, but will hope to have him, Stephens, Kazenga LuaLua and Gordon Greer back fit for next week's trip to Reading.
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