REPORT: PRESTON 2 ALBION 0
- Paul Huntington and Callum Robinson’s goals give Preston victory
- Sam Adekugbe makes his Albion league debut
- Tomer Hemed's penalty is saved in stoppage time
- Brighton drop down to second
Brighton & Hove Albion were beaten for only the third time in the league this season after succumbing to a 2-0 defeat against Preston North End at Deepdale.
Goals from Paul Huntington and Callum Robinson earned the Lilywhites all three points, while Tomer Hemed missed a penalty deep into injury time.
The result ended Albion's highly-impressive 18-match unbeaten run in the league and saw them drop down to second, following Newcastle United’s 2-1 victory at Brentford.
Chris Hughton made eight changes to the side that beat MK Dons in the FA Cup last week, as Connor Goldson and Steve Sidwell retained their places in the starting line-up, while Sam Adekugbe remained at full-back to make his league debut.
Robinson had the first clear-cut opportunity of the game for Preston when his low strike deflected narrowly past the right-hand post.
Anthony Knockaert weaved his way into the area and almost picked out Sam Baldock at the near post, before Oliver Norwood fired a long-range shot just wide.
The Frenchman was involved in the thick of the action again moments later, when his in-swinging free-kick found Shane Duffy at the far post, but the latter’s header went just over the bar.
But Preston took the lead in the 23rd minute when Huntington rose highest inside the box and nodded the ball home at the near post.
Adekugbe attempted to bring Albion level just a minute later, only to see his volley deflected wide.
Jordan Hugill ended a quick counter-attack for Preston with his shot that deflected wide of David Stockdale’s near post.
Preston defended stoutly for the remainder of the first half, but Glenn Murray showed good tenacity to take advantage of some space on the edge of the box and forced a save from Chris Maxwell.
Adekugbe broke forward down the left flank and picked out Murray in the box, but he couldn’t divert his header on target in almost the last action of the first half.
Knockaert had Albion’s first opportunity after the re-start when he unleashed a shot from the edge of the box, but it was too high to trouble Maxwell.
But despite making a positive start to the second half, it was Preston that doubled their advantage in the 53rd minute, when Robinson latched on to a long ball over the defence and clinically fired past Stockdale.
Hughton freshened up his attack in a bid to gain a foothold in the game, as Jamie Murphy replaced Jiri Skalak.
The Scotsman almost had an immediate impact when his driving run down the left picked out Sidwell, whose effort took a deflection before going behind.
Knockaert created arguably Albion’s best chance of the match when he got past his marker down the left and nearly picked out the onrushing Murray, but Preston cleared the danger.
Duffy came within inches of halving the deficit with six minutes left on the clock after a flick-on by Connor Goldson.
Albion had a chance to score a late consolation when Murphy was brought down by Maxwell inside the box and Hemed saw his penalty saved to sum up a frustrating afternoon.