Brighton boss Chris Hughton insisted missing out on the Sky Bet Championship title to Newcastle on Sunday must not overshadow the Seagulls’ promotion.
Goalkeeper David Stockdale’s error handed Jack Grealish an 89th-minute equaliser as Brighton – who came into the game top – drew 1-1 at Aston Villa to gift the league to Newcastle.
Glenn Murray’s second-half penalty almost gave the Seagulls the victory they needed after Nathan Baker was sent off for fouling Sam Baldock.
But they lost the title and finished second when Stockdale allowed Grealish’s late 25-yard effort to creep in, although Hughton refused to be downbeat with Brighton ending a 34-year top-flight exile.
“Today is a negative day, it’s difficult, but there are far more pluses. What these lads have achieved this season has been magnificent,” Hughton said, with the Seagulls having clinched promotion last month.
“David has been excellent for us all season and he had made two very good saves from free-kicks before. There’s never any portion of blame. We have to accept it as a team.
“For us the season is finished and we have achieved our goal. We’re playing in a division where there are some very big teams, who have spent big money, and we have managed to come in the top two.”
And Hughton, who distanced himself from speculation linking Brighton with John Terry, knows the club must spend to compete in the top flight.
“We’re very conscious of that but you can’t make wholesale changes. We have to get the right types in who aren’t going to take too much away from what we’ve already got,” he added.
Brighton lacked tempo for long spells, with Henri Lansbury missing a glorious chance for Villa and Stockdale twice denying Conor Hourihane.
Murray scored his 23rd goal of the season after Baker walked for fouling Baldock before Grealish’s late intervention.
The draw meant Villa finished 13th following relegation from the Premier League last year.
Boss Steve Bruce said: “We’re 31 points behind Brighton and that’s unacceptable. I’ve got to have a squad of players who can mount a challenge otherwise I won’t be sitting here (next season).
“We’ve finished 13th and that’s the lowest I’ve finished in my career.
“The draw put a bit of a dampener on it (for Brighton) but they have got promoted. For us to be 31 points behind them shows the work I’ve got and we’re as jealous as hell.”