Hughton: We can’t win them all
BRIGHTON boss Chris Hughton held his hands up after his Championship high-fliers saw their 18-match unbeaten run halted by Preston.
Newcastle’s win at Brentford meant the Seagulls were usurped at the top of the table, and Hughton admitted North End deserved the victory.
The former Newcastle boss said: “I can’t complain about the result. We were beaten by the better side on the day.
“The timing of the first goal was bad news for us. From that point on we were chasing the game.
“We should have done better defending the early goal, but having said that we know how dangerous Paul Gallagher can be at set-pieces. He’s probably the best in the Championship in that kind of situation.
“Once we go two-nil down it’s an uphill battle from then on. It’s not often we’ve been in this situfirst-half ation of course, but the result was fair. Preston are really strong here and we’re not going to win all our games.
“I know very well how tough this division is.”
North End enjoyed the better of a niggly first period and deserved their lead at the break.
They went in front after 13 minutes when centre-back Paul Huntington darted in to head home his first goal in almost two years, meeting Gallagher’s cross purposefully.
Oliver Norwood had gone close for the Seagulls by that point, but the hosts defended stoutly. Glenn Murray came agonisingly close to a leveller in stoppage-time. The 15goal striker raced in to meet league debutant Sam Adekugbe’s pinpoint cross only to head a whisker wide.
A superbly-taken strike from Callum Robinson doubled North End’s advantage in the 53rd minute. Latching on to a terrific through-ball from Daryl Horgan, Robinson held off a challenge from Bruno before drilling clinically past David Stockdale to register his seventh strike of the season.
The visitors went in search of a breakthrough but struggled to find any meaningful rhythm. Shane Duffy was unlucky when he saw a powerful header hacked off the line by Greg Cunningham, and to pile on the agony they even missed a penalty seconds before the final whistle. After Tomer Hemed had been felled in a goalmouth scramble, the substitute looked on in horror as his spot-kick was saved by Chris Maxwell.
North End boss Simon Grayson was proud of his team, who moved up to ninth in the table, just six points shy of the play-off positions.
“It was a complete victory, a very well-deserved win against a really strong team,” he said.
“It’s looking like Brighton will end up in the top two this season or even win the league, so for us to beat them so convincingly says a lot about this team.
“We looked strong throughout, but this result has been coming for quite a while now.
“We’ve been putting in some strong performances lately, but not really getting the results we’ve deserved.
“In the first half it was pretty even-stevens, and we were competing well.
“We were still competing in the second half and to be honest I expected us to go on and win in the end.
“There was a slight blip when we gave away the penalty but we didn’t even concede from that, so it’s been a good day all round.”
DIGGING DEEP: Paul Huntington celebrates scoring his team’s first goal at Deepdale. Inset, Tomer Hemed misses a Brighton penalty