Leeds United head coach Uwe Rosler bemoaned his luck as Brighton substitute Bobby Zamora chipped an 89th-minute winner against the Elland Road side’s 10 men.
Leeds had used all three substitutes when defender Liam Cooper went down clutching his knee in the 84th minute, leaving his team a man short for the rest of the game. Until then Leeds seemed destined for a point against the table-toppers, Cooper’s header quickly cancelling out Solly March’s 14th-minute opener.
It was Brighton’s first win in October for four years as Leeds completed a club record 11 home games without a victory.
Rosler said: “Things are just not going for us at the moment. There were three key moments in the game. They scored from their first attack and I feared the worst but we showed terrific character and got a quick equaliser.
“The second key moment was when Chris Wood didn’t take his unbelievable opportunity. The game looked like ending 1-1 so we brought on Mirco Antenucci and Will Buckley to try and win it but the third key moment was Liam Cooper’s injury, leaving us with 10 men.
“Having said all that, we can’t feel sorry for ourselves. There are a lot of people far worse off than us so we have to pick ourselves up and go again. I feel a bit sorry for the players, supporters and owner. When you invest as much as the players do in training and get so little back it’s disappointing.”
Delighted Brighton manager Chris Hughton said: “We deserve to be where we are at the moment. We were probably not at our best today but we showed a willingness to fight to the end and get the right result. Bobby Zamora came on and scored about ten minutes later and I am delighted for him.
“We know what he gives us but it was a team effort at that stage of a game that seemed to be petering out into a draw. Bobby wasn’t up to speed in pre-season, so we knew it would take time, but we have been able to use him at the right times. He gave us exactly what we needed when he came on. The players very much wanted to win the game and it showed.”
March opened the scoring when he cut in from the left and found a gap between keeper Marco Silvestri and the near post.
The Seagulls’ lead lasted just eight minutes. Lewis Dunk brought down Chris Wood on the right and from Alex Mowatt’s left-footed free-kick, Cooper scored with a glancing far post header to register his first goal for 11 months.
Wood should have headed Leeds in front but somehow missed the target from a few yards out and the miss proved costly.
Seagulls keeper David Stockdale was a mightily relieved man when his clearance kick rebounded off Mowatt and sped just outside the keeper’s right post. Yet it was Leeds’ turn to breathe a sigh of relief in the 64th minute when March drifted in from the right and saw his powerful shot thud back off the bar. When Leeds lost Cooper with six minutes left Brighton took full advantage. Gaetan Bong played the ball through to Zamora who finished superbly with a chip over Silvestri.