Brighton saw their 17-match unbeaten run ended by Preston, who deservedly triumphed 2-0 at Deepdale in Saturday’s Championship clash.
The Seagulls’ first away Championship loss since August, and a first anywhere since September, came courtesy of goals in either half from Paul Huntington and Callum Robinson.
The hosts were worthy victors and maintained their play-off push in some style, Brighton’s afternoon summed up when substitute Tomer Hemed missed a 96th-minute penalty.
Chances were few and far between during what proved to be a scrappy opening 45 minutes.
Preston grabbed the lead with a set-piece effort in the 13th minute when defender Huntington charged in to score his first goal in almost two years. He bundled home Paul Gallagher’s free-kick from close range.
Before that, Robinson went close for the hosts, while the Seagulls responded when Oliver Norwood drove a shot just past the post from 20 yards.
Glenn Murray was heavily involved as the visitors sought to claw their way back into the game in the lead up to the interval.
The 15-goal striker volleyed narrowly wide after racing on to meet Bruno’s knockdown.
Murray then robbed Preston full-back Marnick Vermijl before lashing in a shot which Chris Maxwell saved well.
As the game entered first-half stoppage time, Murray came agonisingly close to an equaliser.
He headed a whisker wide after meeting a neat out-swinging cross from league debutant Sam Adekugbe.
Albion opened the second period with renewed vigour, but Anthony Knockaert wasted a decent chance when he blazed over from the edge of the box.
The Seagulls were punished in the 53rd minute when Preston doubled their lead.
Latching on to a terrific through-ball from Daryl Horgan, front-man Robinson bravely held off a challenge from Bruno before drilling clinically past David Stockdale to register his seventh strike of the season.
The second goal clearly lifted the hosts.
Midfielder Alan Browne twice went close before the hour-mark was up, firstly when his shot was blocked by Huntington, and then when heading over the top from eight yards.
Gradually Brighton began to try and force their way back into the game and Murray must have thought he was going to score in the 73rd minute, only to see the ball clipped off his toe by Preston skipper Tom Clarke two yards from goal.
At the other end, Horgan left three opponents behind him before curling a terrific strike inches past the far post.
Brighton’s Shane Duffy saw a late header hacked off the line by Greg Cunningham.
The final act of the game saw Maxwell keep out Hemed’s spot-kick, after Huntington had fouled the Seagulls substitute.