By Liam Dawes
A goalkeeping howler by Casper Ankergren gave Middlesbrough a 1-0 victory at the Riverside Stadium.
The Dane spilled a routine cross to gift Scott McDonald the only goal and end the Seagulls three match winning streak.
Kazenga LuaLua – making his first start since signing permanently from Newcastle – hit the post as the Seagulls tried to force themselves back into the game, but the home defence held firm to secure the points.
Commenting after the game, Albion manager Gus Poyet said: “The difference was the one goal, and that was a mistake, but that’s football.
“The action was the difference between the two teams but we cannot talk about that because these things happen.”
Middlesbrough had the better of the early exchanges, with Merouane Zemmana having two early efforts thwarted, the second of which was blocked by centre-half Lewis Dunk.
At the opposite end, Craig Noone cut inside and fired a powerful shot towards goal which just shaved the outside of Jason Steele’s post.
It was the home side made the breakthrough on 21 minutes though – Ankergren failed to catch Joe Bennett’s simple cross, and presented McDonald with the simplest of tasks from four yards.
The ever industrious Craig Mackail-Smith fired a 30 yard effort over Steele’s bar just before the break, but it wasn’t to be the Scottish internationals day.
Just after the re-start, Seagulls captain Gordon Greer had a brilliant chance to level the scores.
LuaLua delivered a perfect cross, but the defender couldn’t direct his header on target.
Poyet introduced strikers Ashley Barnes and Billy Paynter on 74 minutes as Albion tried everything to snatch a point, and it was the former who had a golden opportunity in stoppage time.
Will Buckley sent in a cross from the left, but Barnes sent his effort over in front of the 679 hardy Albion fans that had made the 630 mile round trip to Teesside.
Despite the setback, Albion remain seventh in the Championship ahead of next week’s visit of Burnley.
Middlesbrough: Steele, Zemmama (Martin 33), Bates, McMahon, R Williams, Bennett, Bailey,Robson (Thompson 78), Arca, McDonald, Emnes (Ogbeche 73). Subs not used: Hoyte, Thomson, Haroun.
Brighton: Ankergren, Jara Reyes, Greer, Dunk, Taricco, Bridcutt, Sparrow (Buckley 62), Vincelot, Noone (Paynter 74), Mackail-Smith (Barnes 74), LuaLua. Subs not used: Brezovan, El-Abd.