Busy midweek football programmes tend to mean briefer match reports than at weekends, so the descriptions of the end of Albion’s unbeaten record fortunately did not draw out the agony.
Most reports concentrated on Fulham’s five-goal striker Aleksandar Mitrovic, once – many moons ago – a reported target for the Albion. But they also recognised that Graham Potter’s men had had a lofty goal in their sights at the beginning of the evening.
In The Daily Telegraph, Sam Dean wrote that “for Brighton there was frustration and no shortage of disappointment. It may only be five matches but the prospect of ending the night on top of the table is an alluring one for any group of fans, and you could almost feel the eagerness seeping out of the away end here.
“’I can’t say we deserved anything from the game,’ said Potter. ‘Not our best night. We have had a good run but we have to be honest enough when we have not played at the level.’
“A response from Brighton came through Mac Allister, who converted with power from the penalty spot after Bobby De Cordova-Reid had fouled Pervis Estupinan.
“There was plenty of possession to come from Brighton but, in truth, no real sense that they would find a way through.”
Kieran Gill of The Daily Mail thought that “it is a measure of Brighton’s progress under Graham Potter that they left Craven Cottage angry at failing to move top of the Premier League for the first time in their history.
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“Yet sometimes, all you can do is acknowledge the opposition, and there is an aggression to Fulham this season which was lacking the last time they graced the top-flight.
“Marco Silva’s side are horrible to play against. Led by their snarler-in-chief Aleksandar Mitrovic, they are confrontational and physical, and precious points are being picked up as a result.”
The least said about Fulham’s two goals the better, but he added: “Just as the hosts thought the win was confirmed, Brighton’s Pervis Estupinan dropped down in the box. Play continued but VAR Paul Tierney soon intervened, telling Bramall to visit his pitch-side monitor. Cordova-Reid had kicked the calf of Estupinan and a penalty was awarded.
“Alexis Mac Allister stepped up and, finding the left corner, made it 2-1. It became an end-to-end contest. Brighton attacked, Fulham counter-attacked, rinse, repeat. In the 70th minute, Trossard was denied the leveller for the visitors by a low save by Leno.”
In The Guardian, Nick Ames agreed with Graham Potter that Albion had been below par, “Brighton had it all to gain here, knowing a win would take them temporarily top, but were defeated by a performance that arguably merited a greater margin of victory,” he wrote. “They were a shadow of their best selves, scratchy in defence and generally short of the fluidity that has taken them this far. Although Brighton pushed after Alexis Mac Allister’s penalty, which gave them a lifeline after conceding twice early in the second half, an equaliser would have been flattering.
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“By the 25th minute Graham Potter, mindful that his defenders had been pulled around, changed from a back three to a four. He might have hoped a second-half uptick would propel them to the summit but instead they were put to the sword.”
Isabelle Barker expressed the same sentiments slightly more colourfully in The Sun: “Aleksandar Mitrovic, and a calamitous Lewis Dunk own goal, finally got the Seagulls in a flap,” she wrote. "Brighton had put the champagne on ice [had they?] as a win at newly-promoted Fulham would have seen them lead the Prem for the first time in their history.
“The task seemed more than doable given that they were on a blistering club-record, nine-match unbeaten top-flight run. The squeaky clean South Coasters had also let in just one goal all term before yesterday's tie, on the opening day against Manchester United.
“But first they had to get past lethal Serbian hitman Mitrovic who is on a warpath to prove he can hack it in the top-flight. The striker burst Brighton’s bubble with his 100th time on target in the league before Dunk steered into his own net to put Fulham firmly in the driving seat.
“The hosts survived a late onslaught as Deniz Undav wriggled into the box and rattled the post. He was well offside in the build up and the hosts were left fuming the assistant didn’t raise his flag and instead gave a corner - but they held on.”
Alyson Rudd of The Times noted that “Fulham’s win was not pretty but prettiness was their downfall in their previous two seasons after promotion. This time they are bullish and energetic.
“With Danny Welbeck starting on the bench having failed to recover fully from the knocks he received against Leeds United, Brighton lacked a focal point in attack.
“Robert Sánchez made an early, excellent reaction save from a João Palhinha header as the home side began with near constant frenetic pace. Brighton, though, are not a side likely to become perturbed in a hurry and started to slow down proceedings with measured, often dull passing.
“The second half was quite another matter. Neeskens Kebano crossed to the far side of the penalty area in the 48th minute where Mitrovic loitered with intent for his fifth goal of the season and his 100th for the club.
“Brighton perked up and became more imaginative, but this Fulham are not easily breached.”